CUTS Washington Monthly Brief
#36, March 2021
Buttressing the Spirit of the Quad in the Indo-Pacific
Leaders of the Quadrilateral Framework (Quad) - Joe Biden, President of the United States; Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India; Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia; and Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Japan met virtually on March 12, 2021 at the first-ever Quad leaders’ summit.
Looking back, at his historic ‘Confluence of the Two Seas’ speech at the Indian Parliament in 2007, the then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had envisioned a “dynamic coupling of the Pacific and the Indian Oceans as seas of freedom and of prosperity”. Although it took substantial time to build this consensus, the revived Quad has been shaping it actively at the working and ministerial levels since 2017.
Other than freedom of navigation and over flight, inclusions of areas such as Covid-19, climate change, emerging technologies at the summit are emerging drivers of a unity of vision and purpose. The joint statement “The Spirit of the Quad” exhibits that.
Such diversification of subjects will help the grouping in not just acting as a counterweight to hegemonic belligerence in the region, but also in becoming a strong financial and economic bloc. With a plethora of rising challenges being faced at the national and regional level, it is imperative for the Quad to adapt, in providing mutually cooperative solutions for the security and development of the Indo-Pacific region.
The proposed steps such as funding production technologies and development projects to reduce dependence on China-produced rare earth and dramatically increase the supply of COVID-19 vaccines by one billion doses in 2022 to meet the shortages in Southeast Asia evince that.
Similarly, the grouping proved to be more resilient than the prediction of critics - surviving under the leadership of the Trump administration, the departure of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and a sharp increase in tensions that Australia and India have faced with China.
With that resolve and resilience, perhaps the 2021 Quad summit can prove to be a turning point in realising what Prime Minister Abe had envisioned in the year 2007.
Pradeep S. Mehta

PS: What would the potential consequences to peace and security be, in case American troops do not withdraw from Afghanistan within the mentioned time frame?

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The Complexities Of China’s CPTPP Entry
Chinese President Xi Jinping made global headlines at the APEC summit on 20 November 2020 by announcing that China was considering joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which came into effect in December 2018. The news came amid a likely reconfiguration of the Asia Pacific trade landscape due to unabated trade tensions between the United States and China and the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) five days prior.

Sanctions row threatens EU-China investment deal
The EU’s trade policy chief has warned that China’s decision to escalate a sanctions row risks imperilling a market-access deal meant to be the cornerstone of future relations between Brussels and Beijing. Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU’s trade commissioner, said that the fate of the freshly negotiated EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment — or CAI — was tied up with the diplomatic dispute, which erupted this week.
India envoy urges corporates to help realise full potential of ties with U.S.
India's Ambassador to the U.S. Taranjit Singh Sandhu said this will create value for companies and jobs for people. "If there is one message that I have for all of you today that is please help us realise the full potential of this relationship," Sandhu said in his address at the annual full board of directors meeting of the U.S.-India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF).
Kamala Harris speaks with WTO Director-General on reforms
"I spoke with WTO Director-General Dr. Okonjo-Iweala. We agreed to advancing international trade for recovery and equitable economic growth. We discussed human rights, investing in the environment, health, and technology to spur development and prosperity for the American people," Harris said in a tweet.


U.S. becomes India's second biggest oil supplier, Saudi plunges to No. 4
The United States overtook Saudi Arabia as India's second biggest oil supplier after Iraq last month, as refiners boosted cheaper U.S. crude purchases to record levels to offset OPEC+ supply cuts, data from trade sources showed. The switch in supplies, triggered by lower U.S. crude demand, coincided with Saudi Arabia's voluntary extra 1 million barrel per day (bpd) output cut, on top of an agreement by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) to maintain lower production.

India Has Ambitious Plan For Developing More Renewable Energy, But Needs To Aim Higher
India, with its rapidly developing economy and a population of more than 1.3 billion, epitomizes this trend. The country finds itself at a crossroads regarding its energy future: Small decisions today will resound in the coming years. In their latest report, the Indian government set a target of 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030. For comparison, the country’s total energy generation capacity today is about 380 gigawatts, out of which 90 gigawatts are of renewable energy, not including large hydropower stations. How this plan shapes up will dictate how many fossil-fuel power plants they can avoid building.
The Politicization Of Energy Policy Needs To Stop
Understanding the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate modeling is another point of contention distorting proper energy policies in the U.S. and globally. These models have repeatedly overestimated the amount of anthropogenic warming. The gap is far and wide between what is understood about the climate and the modeled outcomes.

Amidst heightened border tension, Chinese hackers targeted India’s power through malware: U.S. firm
Recorded Future, a Massachusetts-based company which studies the use of the internet by state actors, in its recent report details the campaign conducted by a China-linked threat activity group RedEcho targeting the Indian power sector. The activity was identified through a combination of large-scale automated network traffic analytics and expert analysis.


India and South Korea agree to go for joint production, export of military hardware
In a significant move, India and South Korea have agreed to go for joint production and export of military hardware, enhance intelligence sharing and boost cooperation in cyber and space domains as part of overall expansion of defence and security ties, official sources said. The decisions were taken during delegation-level talks between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his South Korean counterpart Suh Wook on Friday, March 26, with both sides resolving to give a major push to ramp up ties in strategically key areas, they said.

India’s policy U-turn: Huawei unlikely to be in “trusted” vendors list for 5G over security concerns
India’s highest cyber security office is working on a plan to force out Huawei and its dreams of a 5G foray in India. Highly-placed sources privy to the development confirmed to ET Prime that India is unlikely to give a green signal to Huawei for 5G given that it won’t qualify as a “trusted” vendor in the country. Another top diplomatic source, citing the government’s plan that is due to come into force in June, pointed out that the Chinese company Huawei would not be seen favourably.
India may invite top Russian ministers
After hosting the U.S. Defence Secretary, India is expected to soon invite the Russian foreign minister and deputy prime minister with an eye on expanding partnership on multilateral fora as well as in the Indo-Pacific region, with a special focus on ASEAN and East Asia. During these visits, the two sides would also explore plans to boost maritime connectivity links. These will be the first high-level visits of the Russian ministers since the viral outbreak in India last year.
India must curtail ties with China in 3 key areas: Study
India should reduce its engagement with China in three main areas, but dispense with “myopic jingoism”, a new report will say on how India can meet the China challenge in the wake of Galwan and Chinese invasion in eastern Ladakh. “Strategic Patience and flexible policies” a study authored by former ambassador to China, Gautam Bambawale, former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar, former chief of CSIR R. Mashelkar, economists Ajit Ranade and Ajay Shah of the Pune International Centre, will be released later this week.


Bill introduced in U.S. Congress to scrap 'one-China' policy
Two top Republican lawmakers have introduced a legislation in the House of Representatives calling for the U.S. to resume formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan and end the outdated and counter-productive “one-China" policy. Introduced by Congressmen Tom Tiffany and Scott Perry, the bill directs the Biden administration to support Taiwan's membership in international organisations, and to initiate negotiations with Taipei on crafting a U.S.-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement.
Need double peace, inside and around Afghanistan: Jaishankar
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that “for a durable peace in Afghanistan, what we need is a genuine ‘double peace’, that is, peace within Afghanistan and peace around Afghanistan,” and this “requires harmonising the interests of all, both within and around that country”. He made these remarks at the ninth ministerial conference of Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process on Afghanistan in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was also present, along with representatives of 30 other countries and a dozen regional and international organisations.

U.S. Has Delhi in a ‘Dilemma’: Former Indian PM's Advisor on U.S. Threat of Sanctions over S-400 Deal
This is a dilemma for India, not just because of U.S. sanctions but also because China has decided to acquire the same. On the other hand, given the capability of the S-400 missile system, India would benefit unless the U.S. can offer an equally good or better system on the same terms that Russia is offering. We have to wait and see what happens.
Indo-U.S. Cooperation on Global Tech and AI Governance
India has been seeing a formidable amount of growth in developing its digital footprint. The Indian government has been encouraging various departments, institutes and sectors affiliated to technology and its usage in adapting to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to adapt to the changing world. Considered nascent, the Indian AI sector can face the challenge of becoming a global partner by imbibing the technology in our daily lives. This edition of the ONW reflects upon developments in this front among other developments in Global Tech and AI Governance space while underpinning the potential for the Indo-U.S. cooperation.