Further Strengthening the COVID-19 vaccine rollout through primary care in Australia
Victoria starts vaccination for those in age group 40-49 yrs from Thursday 27 May. According to available reports, the Covid variant that’s afflicted people in India has also entered Australia and the State of Victoria is now on 7 day full lockdown.
Community pharmacies in selected rural and regional areas will be activated to support Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout out. Read more
The die has been cast. The World is getting divided. There are enough signs of a no-holds barred economic war between nations wedded to democracy on one side and expansionist China with countries inextricably tied to it due to the economic stranglehold on the other. After the Indian Army pushed back China in the Galwan Valley and banned its money spinning apps, and challenged both its military might and sway in digital technologies, trade and commerce, we now have a scenario where China is against the wall due to so many factors. And this, despite its position as world’s leading economic power. China is now hyper active on the world stage to counter the Quad.
At the Quad meeting between the US, India, Japan and Australia, earlier this month, US President Joe Biden renewed commitment to ensure that the Indo-Pacific region is governed by international law, committed to upholding universal values, free from coercion and also announced the launch of an “ambitious new joint partnership” to boost vaccine manufacturing, for the global benefit and strengthen vaccinations to benefit the entire Indo-Pacific region. He also underscored the Quad is going to be a vital arena for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stamped the moment by reiterating that the Quad will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison joined the discussion by asserting that together the Quad nations will create a different future. It is the Indo-Pacific that will now shape the destiny of our world in the 21st century, he asserted.
The Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga echoed the same sentiment by stating that Japan-Australia-India-U.S. leaders working together will help in realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Days later, addressing his first press conference after his swearing-in, the US president had underscored “a stiff competition with China, while pointing to China’s overall goal to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world, and the most powerful country in the world. Biden also used this important interaction with the media to categorically drive home the message that it is not going to happen during his presidency and the United States are going to continue to grow and expand.
Picking China in no uncertain terms, Biden also informed media-persons at this press meet that he has already told Jinping in straight terms: “as long as you and your country continues to so blatantly violate human rights, we’re going to continue, in an unrelenting way, to call to the attention of the world and make it clear what’s happening to the Uighurs, what’s happening in Hong Kong”.
Besides the message delivered through the Quad, China also has been facing the heat on the issue of forced labour in China’s Xinjiang region and the call for boycott of goods produced through blatant violation of human rights.
Expansionist China Expansionist China, which has a long standing territorial dispute with India and Japan, is also locked in South China Sea disputes over maritime and island claims with Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. The strategic importance of South China Sea can be gauged from the fact that a third of the global maritime trade and close to 40 per cent of China’s total trade passes through the South China Sea shipping lanes.
To ensure strategic balance in the South China Sea, U.S. warships and aircraft have frequently been moving into that area in a “show of force” and carrying out exercises in the disputed waters.
Then there is the Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure development strategy, a brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping adopted in 2013 to invest in close to 70 countries to build economic land and rail transportation routes through Central Asia. China describes the Belt and Road Initiative, which has 2049 as the deadline for completion, as “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future.”
Significantly, India, a major regional power, has refused to join China’s Belt and Road project. India has point blank declined to join the BRI because the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is integral to the BRI, passes through Pak occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Notwithstanding the fact that China is Australia’s largest trading partner and also their interdependence economically – China needs raw matrial from Australia, while Australia ships almost a quarter of its exports to China – the situation has reached such a pass that Australia is now thinking in terms of diverting much of its shipment to other countries.
China-Iran: Comprehensive Partnership During Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s six-nation tour to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Oman, Bahrain and the UAE, China and Iran on Saturday 27 March 2021 signed what has been described by a section of the media as a 25-year “Political Strategic and Economic Treaty”.
The treaty was signed by Wang Yi and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. From China’s point of view, the pact with Iran is significant especially due to the Belt and Road Initiative in the region.
During his meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhan, who has hailed the Iran-China strategic partnership as ‘major step’, the Chinese Foreign Minister reiterated that China’s willingness to develop the China-Iran relations will not change.
In Riyadh Wang batted for a five-point initiative to achieve security and stability in the Middle East. The fine-tuning of the objectives of Wang’s West Asia tour obviously points to an attempt by China to counter the takeaway and the deep message conveyed to the entire world by Biden, Modi, Morrison and Suga when they went on a virtual platform for the Quad Summit.
Wang spoke of mutual respect, upholding equity and justice, achieving non-proliferation, collective security, and accelerating development cooperation in Riyadh.
China also is in an overdrive mode to counter sanctions over the “Xinjiang forced labour” narrative. In a latest move, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has responded to unilateral sanctions on Chinese officials over Xinjiang by announcing sanctions against two US individuals, one Canadian politician and entity on Saturday. China has also sanctioned nine UK individuals and four entities following what it has decried as “their provocative statements”.
The Chinese mouthpiece Global Times said in a report Sunday that the “West has forced companies including H&M, Nike to politicize the Xinjiang cotton supply chain issue and pushed them to offend Chinese consumers and the market. It is inevitable that they will be punished by the market”.
The Global Times report goes on add “Foreign brands may see their total enterprise value, in perspective of growth prospects, reduced by about 50 percent in five years, due to their groundless vilification over cotton…”
Chinese Minister of Defense Wei Fenghe, on Friday during a visit to the site of Chinese Embassy in former Yugoslavia, said: “The Chinese military will never allow history to repeat itself as China is capable and determined to defend its national interests,” Wei Fenghe was there to pay tribute to martyrs in Belgrade, where the Chinese Embassy in former Yugoslavia was bombed by NATO in 1999.
Chinese Foreign Ministry also said on Friday that the US-led NATO, owes a debt to the Chinese people, in the backdrop of the condemnation of NATO by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Serbia’s nation-wide commemoration of the deaths of thousands of innocent people by NATO.
On March 25, China and Turkey kept the Quad Summit in perspective when they agreed to oppose what they described as “attempt by some countries to politicize the COVID-19 vaccine cooperation” and pledged to continue their cooperation in fighting the pandemic.
A day earlier, Hungarian President Janos Ader had also said that Hungary and China will continue to strengthen cooperation on anti-pandemic, economy, trade, tourism and military affairs, and would promote in-depth development of the Hungary-China comprehensive strategic partnership.
These are not merely utterances. In fact, the die has been cast. The world is getting divided and there are enough signs of a no-holds barred economic war between nations wedded to democracy on one side and expansionist China with countries inextricably tied to it due to the economic stranglehold on the other. After the Indian Army pushed back China in the Galwan Valley and banned its money spinning apps, and thereby challenged both its military prowess and sway in digital technologies, trade and commerce, we now have a scenario where China is against the wall due to so many factors. And this, despite its position as world’s leading economic power. China is now hyper active on the world stage to counter the Quad by embracing allies or by trying to build new alliances in West Asia, and with countries of Central and Eastern Europe to retain its stranglehold on national economies.
New Delhi/Washington/Canberra/Tokyo: Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga came together for the first Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework held virtually on 12 March 2021.
We are reproducing below the transcript of the proceedings:
US President Joe Biden: Hello, everyone. I wish we were able to do this in person, but it’s wonderful to gather with friends even — even in this virtual format. We’re reminded that we’re in the midst of a global crisis, but we’re going to overcome that as well.
The Quad group is — was created in the wake of, as you just — everyone just saw on that short film — in the wake of a crisis under my predecessor, George W. Bush, on the 204 — the 2004 tsunami.
I remember later, Mr. Prime Minister, in Japan, going and visiting that — the aftermath of that. It was devastating what you all went through.
And for the first time, we’re convening this group as — at a leader level. And I want to thank my counterparts for joining me today: Prime Minister Morrison and Modi and Suga. You — it’s good to have you all. Like I said, I wish we were doing this together.
The — it’s also the first multilateral summit that I’ve had the opportunity to host as President. And on this — and on this moment, it’s a purpose that I think we all are concerned about: a free and open Indo-Pacific is essential to each of our futures, our countries.
The United States is committed to working with you, our partners, and all our allies in the region to achieve stability. And this is a group of — particularly important because it’s dedicated to the practical solutions and concrete results.
And, my counterparts, if you’ll forgive me, I’d like to give one example of why it matters. There are many examples, but, yesterday, I signed in law the American Rescue Plan to get the American people through this pandemic and kick start our economy and our economic recovery. It’s a bill that will get meaningful help into the hands of people in our country who need it the most.
Consequently, this week, the OECD revised up its expected rate of growth for the United States this year as a consequence of that legislation. In fact, it doubled it from 3.2 percent to 6.5 percent; the fastest rate in one-year economic growth since 1984. And it’s critical because the OECD also predicted that the United States economic growth, fueled by the ARP and increased vaccinations, will be a key driver in global growth this year and our trade partners benefiting around the world as a consequence.
But to get this right, we all have to focus on generating domestic demand and driving sustainable global growth. And we’ve launching an ambitious new joint partnership that is going to boost vaccine manufacturing, and — for the global benefit — and strengthen vaccinations to benefit the entire Indo-Pacific.
We’re establishing a new mechanism to enhance our cooperation and raise our mutual ambitions as we address accelerating climate change.
And — and we’re renewing our commitment to ensure that our region is governed by international law, committed to upholding universal values, and free from coercion.
We’ve got a big agenda ahead of us, gentlemen, as you well know, but I’m optimistic about our prospects. The Quad is going to be a vital arena for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. And I look forward to working closely with — with all of you in the coming years.
And now, Prime Minister Modi, I’m kicking it over to you. And again, it’s great to see you.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Your Excellencies — President Biden, Prime Minister Morrison, and Prime Minister Suga — it is good to be among the friends. I thank President Biden for this initiative.
Excellencies, we are united by our democratic values and our commitment to a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Our agenda today — covering areas like vaccines, climate change, and emerging technologies — make the Quad a force for global good.
I see this positive vision as an extension of India’s ancient philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which regards the world as one family. We will work together, closer than ever before, for advancing our shared values and promoting a secure, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
Today’s summit meeting shows that Quad had come of age. It will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region. Thank you.
President Biden: Thank you.
US State Secretary Blinken: Prime Minister Morrison.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: President Biden, for this wonderful initiative and bringing us together. And my fellow prime ministers, it’s great to see you. Namaste. Good morning. Konnichiwa. And from Australia, g’day.
As we begin a new day here in Australia, it’s not yet dawn. But we join together as Quad leaders of nations to welcome what I think will be a new dawn in the Indo-Pacific through our gathering.
History teaches us that when nations engage together in a partnership of strategic trust, of common hope, and shared values, much can be achieved. When the world emerged from the Great War and our last global pandemic a century ago, it soon found a Great Depression and another global conflict that unleashed a poverty and a devastation that was unthinkable.
As we emerge from this global pandemic and the global recession, let us together create a different future. It is the Indo-Pacific that will now shape the destiny of our world in the 21st century.
As four leaders of great, liberal democracies in the Indo-Pacific, let our partnership be the enabler of peace, stability, and prosperity, and to do so inclusively with the many nations of our region to share in their vision, as expressed through ASEAN, for an open, inclusive — inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific; to respect and support their sovereignty, independence, and security by upholding our values and supporting international law; and to address the many challenges we face, from COVID to climate change.
Know, friends, that Australia, while looking to our friends in all of these tasks, we never leave it to our friends. We’ll do our share of the heavy lifting to lighten the burden for us all.
I’m delighted to now hand over to my good friend, Yoshi, Prime Minister Suga.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga: (As interpreted.) Joe, Mr. Modi, and ScoMo: It is a great honor to realize the Japan-Australia-India-U.S. leaders’ summit with all of you — working together to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Starting with the response to the tsunami disaster that we just saw on the video, the Quad four countries transformed into a forum for diplomatic dialogue in 2007.
Since then, after overcoming some difficult circumstances from around 2017, we gained a fresh momentum. In October, last year, we reached the stage of holding the foreign ministers meeting here in Tokyo. Less than half a year since then, we are now holding this first leaders’ summit. And I do feel emotional about the development. I thank Joe for your initiative.
With the four countries working together, I wish to firmly advance our cooperation to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific and to make visible and tangible contribution to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the region, including overcoming COVID-19.
Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. We received massive support from the U.S., Australia, and India in our response to the disaster. Joe visited the affected areas soon after the disaster. And I thank you once again.
New Delhi/Washington DC: Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will come together for the first Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework, being held virtually on 12th March 2021.
The Leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. The Summit will provide an opportunity to exchange views on contemporary challenges such as resilient supply chains, emerging and critical technologies, maritime security, and climate change. The Leaders will also discuss ongoing efforts to combat Covid-19 pandemic and explore opportunities for collaboration in ensuring safe, equitable and affordable vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region.
At his Thursday press briefing, ahead of the Quad Summit, the US State department spokesperson Ned Price narrated the important role of The Quad, as it’s known – it’s a small grouo of countries United States, Australia, India and Japan. – Price threw more light explaining the Quad was established not to counter one single threat or to focus on one single issue, but it was really established to showcase what democracies can deliver together both for our their populations and for the broader world. Price further said Quad members are uniquely positioned to help lead the region out of crises and to help move the region towards the more positive vision both to address the crises and to seize opportunities that are presented to all of us collectively.
Quad is not focused on any single issue, to include China, Price made it very clear.
In the present context of Quad and China, one cannot miss drawing attention to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who lost no time on Thursday 11 March when he tweeted that there is no democracy in India citing the Swedish Freedom House Report. He even flashed an excerpt from it which said India is now partly free and as autocratic as Pakistan and worse than Bangladesh. This tweet by Rahul Gandhi is highly mischievous, more because of its timing that coincides with the Quad Summit. Rahul and his Congress party have a bleak track record and they they are always too ready to serve the Chinese cause much against national interest. Rahul’s latest stance exposes him without end and he needs to explain to the people of India the secret memorandum of understanding, he had signed between the Indian National Congress and the Communist Party of China in 2008.