The leaders of the US, Japan, India, and Australia met in Tokyo on Tuesday and announced a new maritime security initiative and pledged $50 billion for new infrastructure projects as part of their effort to counter China in the region.
The four nations make up the informal alliance known as the Quad that the US is working to strengthen as part of its anti-China strategy in the Asia Pacific. The Quad summit was part of President Biden’s trip to the region, which concluded on Tuesday.
In a joint statement, the Quad leaders said the maritime initiative, known as the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA), will work “with regional partners to respond to humanitarian and natural disasters, and combat illegal fishing.”
“IPMDA will support and work in consultation with Indo-Pacific nations and regional information fusion centers in the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands by providing technology and training to support enhanced, shared maritime domain awareness to promote stability and prosperity in our seas and oceans,” the statement said.
The Quad leaders said they were committed to working with regional partners to drive “public and private investment” in infrastructure projects. “To achieve this, Quad will seek to extend more than 50 billion USD of infrastructure assistance and investment in the Indo-Pacific, over the next five years,” the statement said.
The statement didn’t mention China by name but called for upholding the so-called “rules-based order,” which means the US-led order that Washington believes is being threatened by Beijing. The statement also made a clear reference to Chinese maritime activity in the disputed South China Sea.
While much focus is on Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Biden administration still maintains that China is its foreign policy priority. Strengthening the Quad and other regional partnerships is key to the US strategy against Beijing as outlined by the US Indo-Pacific Strategy, which also calls for a greater US military and diplomatic presence in the Asia Pacific.