China Is the ‘Elephant in the Room’ as Quad Leaders Talk Vaccine
March 13 , 2021 (EIRNS)—While National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told the press at the White House on March 12 that China was not the prime focus of the talks among the leaders of the Quad—U.S., Australia, India, and Japan—it was clear that it was “the elephant in the room.” The U.S. and the Western oligarchs have been acutely aware of the speed with which China has provided its vaccines to the rest of the world. India, which is still suffering a major outbreak among its people, nonetheless has a huge capacity to produce medications and vaccines, and welcomed the U.S. and others to produce their vaccines for developing countries in India. The Quad basically affirmed this by giving financial and other support to India to produce Johnson & Johnson and other vaccines. Japan would help to bankroll the initiative and Canberra would provide logistical support. All well and good, as the world needs more vaccines.
Sullivan said that the fact the meeting was held among the four leaders was more important than the decisions taken there. “Each of the leaders independently, in the course of the meeting, referred to this event as ‘historic’ because it cemented a group of strong democracies that will work together going forward to secure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Sullivan said. Other issues were also touched upon, he said:
“During the meeting, the leaders addressed key regional issues including freedom of navigation and freedom from coercion in the South and East China Seas; the D.P.R.K. nuclear issue; and the coup and violent repression in Burma. The President and his counterparts also spoke to the competition of models between autocracy and democracy, and expressed their confidence that, despite setbacks and imperfections, democracy is the best system to deliver for people and to meet the economic, social, and technological challenges of the 21st century.”
More will be done to follow up in this vein. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will be going to Japan and South Korea this week, after which Austin will be traveling to India, over March 19-21. And then finally, Blinken and Sullivan will be meeting on March 18 with China’s top diplomats Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Anchorage, Alaska. Many people, both here and in China are trying to view the meeting as establishing a modicum of cooperation between the U.S. and China, but Sullivan’s comments that the U.S. will be coming to the meeting “from a position of strength,” does not bode well for a happy outcome, although it could simply be rhetoric to fend off the attacks from the anti-China crowd in both parties that Biden will be “soft on China.”