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What is the Quad?

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited the U.S. White House, where he met with the ‘Quad’ to participate in a face-to-face meeting. But who and what exactly is the Quad? 

What is the Quad? 

Officially known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Quad is a strategic dialogue between the United States, India, Japan and Australia, and officially formed in 2007. Amid protests from China, the group disbanded months after forming, but saw a revival in 2017 and has continued ever since. 

The Quad is not a formal military alliance underpinned by a treaty, but rather, according to Professor Ian Hall from Griffith University, is a “diplomatic forum for the members to share their concerns about regional issues.” 

In March 2020, the group branched out with a “Quad plus” conference that involved New Zealand, South Korea, and Vietnam as well as the original four existing nations. 

What does the group generally discuss? 

While a range of topics are covered, the group often meets to discuss growing concerns over China. Hall describes, “fundamentally, the Quad is still driven by mutual concerns about China”. After the Quad group was revived in 2017, it focused on four key issues: maritime security, connectivity (which according to Hall, was due to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative), counter-terrorism and North Korea’s nuclear weapons. As years progressed, other topics were introduced and discussed, including cyber security, disinformation, economic growth and development and the pandemic. 

What did they speak about this time? 

During this meeting, the group covered a range of topics including COVID-19 and global health, ​​the Indo-Pacific, vaccines, infrastructure and climate. With each topic or issue, there are generally commitments and goals that the group works towards. The White House released a ‘Fact Sheet’ detailing what was discussed, and what commitments were made, here.

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