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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday espoused a free and open Indo-Pacific at the Quad Summit, in a pointed reference to China amid its growing assertiveness in the region, without naming the country. The leader mentioned his aspirations for the Indo-Pacific region five times in his speech at the summit.
“We are liberal democracies that believe in a world order that favors freedom. And we believe in a free and open Indo-Pacific because we know that’s what delivers a strong, stable, and prosperous region so our citizens, our peoples can realize their hopes and dreams for their futures in a liberal and free society,” Morrison said at the summit attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japan PM Yoshihide Suga, hosted by US President Joe Biden.
The Australian PM said the “Quad is about demonstrating how democracies such as ours, as you said, Mr. President (Joe Biden), can get things done that can deal with the big challenges that we face in a very complex and changing world.”
He added that there was no part of the world more dynamic than the Indo-Pacific at the time — a region that has extraordinary opportunity, wide diversity, great wealth, but many challenges that must be overcome.
“And we see the role of our nations. We see our home in the Indo-Pacific as the place that we wish to focus on to ensure that our peoples can realize everything they would have for themselves,” Morrison said.
The leader expressed hope for the future and said a lot had been accomplished in just six months from the group’s last meeting. Listing these, Morrison said: “six hundred and seventy million, at least, safe and effective doses of vaccines already out there. A billion is our goal, Mr. President, and we will add more to that today, using our national strengths collectively to manufacture and distribute these vaccines, to have the doses but also to ensure they go that last mile to ensure they are administered in all parts of the region.”
“We’re working together on low-emissions technologies that will indeed change the world and take the world to a net-zero economy — a new energy economy,” he said.
He added that the group was working to make cyberspace and emerging and critical technologies trusted and secure in open societies, solving problems, and addressing the supply chain challenges that in many ways hold the keys to security and prosperity and environment in the 21st century.
“So we stand here together in the Indo-Pacific region, a region that we wish to be always free from coercion, where the sovereign rights of all nations are respected and where disputes are settled peacefully in accordance with international law,” he said.
The leader said the Quad comes together in collective strength with mutual respect, transparently, and, importantly, as one.
In his ending remarks, the Australian PM said he was in no doubt that together the four nations multiply many times over the forces of hope for a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific.