The leaders of the United States, Japan, Australia and India are set to agree to bolster supply chain security for semiconductors and advance cooperation on space during their first in-person "Quad" summit on Friday, in their latest collective effort to push back against China.
The four Indo-Pacific democracies are also likely to affirm that they are on track to supply 1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines across Asia as promised in their virtual summit in March, and come up with agreements in areas ranging from climate to technology, showing the broadening scope of their cooperation.
Calling the quadrilateral framework a group of "democratic partners who share a worldview and have a common vision for the future," U.S. President Joe Biden said at the outset of the meeting at the White House, "We know how to get things done, and we are up to the challenge."
The summit was joined by Japan's Yoshihide Suga, who is soon stepping down as prime minister, as well as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A joint statement is expected to be issued later.
"This event demonstrates the strong solidarity between our four nations and our unwavering commitment to the common vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific," Suga said.
According to a senior Biden administration official, the four countries have been working to come up with a "joint initiative to map overall capacity, identify respective vulnerabilities and to take critical steps to bolster supply chain security, particularly for semiconductors and all their vital components."
The goal is to help ensure Quad partners take steps to support a "somewhat diverse and competitive market that produces secure, critical technologies," he added, apparently in mind of the fact that the world's semiconductor manufacturing capacity is largely concentrated in mainland China, Taiwan, South Korea and elsewhere in East Asia.
During the Quad meeting, the four countries are also expected to affirm the need to advance secure 5G telecommunications networks.
The move seems to reflect concerns among the Quad members that technologies could be misused or abused by what the United States views as authoritarian countries such as China.
The official did not go into detail about deliverables for COVID-19 vaccines but noted that the four countries will have "detailed updates" on efforts to meet their goal to deliver 1 billion doses by the end of 2022 to Southeast Asia, with investments in Indian vaccine production capacity.
The commitment was initially made during the first Quad summit meeting in March, but uncertainties had emerged as India was hit by a surge in coronavirus cases with the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, which forced the country to halt exports in a bid to inoculate its population.
But New Delhi recently announced that it will soon resume shipments.
The Quad was originally formed in 2004 in response to the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. In recent years, the group has gained renewed attention as a counterweight to Beijing's growing clout in the region.
During the previous U.S. administration under Donald Trump, the Quad held meetings at the foreign ministerial level.
But the engagement has moved to the leaders' level under the Biden administration as it seeks to rally U.S. allies and like-minded countries to address the challenges posed by China.
The Biden administration has called the Quad one of the "new configurations" designed to take on the challenges of the 21st century, along with a new Indo-Pacific security partnership created between Australia, Britain and the United States, dubbed "AUKUS."
Suga welcomed the launch of AUKUS during bilateral talks with Morrison on Friday morning. The Japanese leader also held bilateral talks with Biden.