Quad countries announce slew of tech initiatives including shared cyber standards

In announcing various tech initiatives, the Quad hinted at siding with Taiwan in the midst of growing political pressure from China.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor
Image: Getty Images

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, better known as the Quad, has announced various non-military technology initiatives aimed at establishing global cooperation on critical and emerging technologies, such as AI, 5G, and semiconductors.

The various technology initiatives were announced after the leaders of Quad countries -- comprised of Australia, India, Japan, and the US -- met on Friday, which marked the first time the group has come together in person.

Among the initiatives announced by the security bloc was the intention to develop new global cybersecurity standards across various technology sectors.

"With respect to the development of technical standards, we will establish sector-specific contact groups to promote an open, inclusive, private-sector-led, multi-stakeholder, and consensus-based approach," the Quad said in a joint statement.

As part of work to be undertaken towards establishing these global technology standards, the Quad said it would publish a Quad Statement of Principles, which will be a guide for implementing responsible, open, high-standards innovation.

"We are 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 our security and our prosperity and our environment in the 21st century," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

A new Quad Senior Cyber Group will also be established. The group will consist of "leader-level experts" who will meet regularly to advance work between government and industry to drive the adoption and implementation of shared cyber standards; development of secure software; growth of the tech workforce; and promotion of scalability and cybersecurity of secure and trustworthy digital infrastructure.

The security bloc will also begin cooperation focused on space and combatting cyber threats, promoting resilience, and securing critical infrastructure together, the countries said.

For space specifically, the Quad nations will identify new collaboration opportunities and share satellite data for peaceful purposes such as monitoring climate change, disaster response and preparedness, sustainable uses of oceans and marine resources, and on responding to challenges in shared domains.

Other technology initiatives announced by the Quad over the weekend was a new fellowship that will be established together with industry. The fellowship will provide 100 graduate fellowships to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduate students across the four countries.

New initiatives to improve semiconductor supply chains, 5G deployment and diversification, and monitor biotech scanning trends were also announced.

In announcing these new initiatives, the Quad sledged China, although China was not named, by jointly saying: "We will continue to champion adherence to international law … to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas".

"We affirm our support to small island states, especially those in the Pacific, to enhance their economic and environmental resilience," the Quad added.

The movements from Quad countries follow various international pacts coming to the fore in recent weeks, with Quad members, Australia and the US, joining the UK to establish the AUKUS security pact.

AUKUS, made public a fortnight ago, was established by the three governments to address defence and security concerns posed by China within the Indo-Pacific region. The trilateral security pact's focus has so far been military-heavy unlike the Quad's new initiatives, with AUKUS' first initiative being to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

Meanwhile, both China and Taiwan have formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), one of the world's largest trade pacts. 


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