The current geopolitical situation in the Indo-Pacific region is rife with major irritants that are destabilizing the region. There is a need to establish common standards to serve as the foundation for future deeper integration and to ensure equal access to global commons for all countries as a right under international law. The quad members also agreed that maritime peace and security are critical to the Indo-development Pacific’s prosperity, and they emphasized the importance of respecting sovereignty in accordance with international law.
“We reiterate the importance of adherence to international law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the South and East China Seas,” added the statement.
They were also vehemently opposed to any unilateral actions that sought to alter the status quo or escalate tensions in the region.
“We express serious concern at the militarization of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities,” added the statement.
“We reiterate our conviction that the Quad, acting as a force for regional and global good, will be guided by the priorities of the Indo-Pacific region through its positive and constructive agenda,” it added.
The members of the quad also reaffirmed their consistent and unwavering support for ASEAN centrality and unity, as well as the ASEAN-led architecture, which includes the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum.
“We remain committed to supporting the implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and will be guided in our work by ASEAN’s principles and priorities,” added the statement. They also welcomed Indonesia’s 2023 ASEAN Chairmanship and vowed to support its Chair theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth.”
“We identify tangible areas for the Quad to support the work of ASEAN. In addition, we are committed to further strengthening our respective relationships with ASEAN, thus creating a platform for greater Quad collaboration in support of the AOIP,” added the statement.
The Quad leaders also focused on deepening engagement with regional partners, including through information-sharing, capacity-building, and technical assistance, to improve maritime domain awareness, combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, strengthen their capacity to protect and develop offshore resources in accordance with UNCLOS, ensure freedom of navigation and overflight, and promote the safety and security of sea lines of communication.
“We look forward to continuing these discussions at the Quad Maritime Security Working Group meeting hosted by the United States in Washington DC in March 2023. In this context, we welcome the progress made under the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA),” added the statement.