NEW DELHI: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday underlined the need for closer cooperation between his country and India on developing critical new technologies as he listed cyber security, quantum computing and artificial intelligence as areas they were already collaborating for global good.
In a speech to a technology summit organized by the Karnataka government, Morrison drew a clear distinction between advanced technologies developed by open democracies and those developed by countries like China.
“You know, and I know, that technology isn’t developed in a vacuum. It reflects the values of the societies that create it and use it – in particular how we use it,” Morrison said.
“So Australia is working with like-minded countries, liberal democracies in particular, to ensure global technology rules and norms reflect those values – liberal democratic values,” he said as he described India as a “trusted partner.”
On the Quad – a grouping that brings together Australia, India, US and Japan – Morrison said it was a” very practical and positive partnership,” that aimed to “foster an open and secure technology ecosystem.”
He also announced the opening of a new Australian consulate at Bengaluru which, he said, “would expand our diplomatic presence in India to five posts.”
Morrison’s comments on the Quad come against the backdrop of China variously slamming the grouping as an “Asian NATO” and “exclusive clique” running “counter to the trend of the times.”
In his speech, Morrison said that countries with cutting edge technologies will “have greater economic, political and military power – and considerable influence on global norms and values – into the years ahead.”
Noting India’s role as a “major technology power,” Morrison said that he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had kept technology at the “forefront of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” during a bilateral summit last year.
“We’re already making great progress. We’re sharing expertise on cyber and critical technologies like quantum computing and AI. We’re working to make our supply chains more secure and resilient. We’re collaborating on the mining and processing of critical minerals – like cobalt and lithium and rare earth elements – that are vital to clean energy technologies, and have military applications,” Morrison said.
“We’re also cooperating on space science, technology, and research – and Australia is proud to be supporting India’s inspirational Gaganyaan human spaceflight mission. We’re deepening our education and research links also – vital to technological cooperation. And we’re working towards a low-emissions technology partnership, which will see us combine efforts on hydrogen and ultra-low-cost solar,” the Australian prime minister said.
The Quad, he said” was “about four like-minded democracies coming together.”
“Together, we’re working to bolster supply chain security, advance the deployment of secure 5G and beyond-5G networks, to combat cyber threats, and secure our critical infrastructure, and much more,” he said.
The remarks can be seen as a swipe at China. Chinese technology companies like Huawei and ZTE have been barred in Australia since 2018 from building infrastructure which would help their telecom companies leapfrog from 4G to 5G systems. The ban has been attributed to worries over espionage and national security. Several Western countries have since either paused plans to engage Chinese telecom companies or sought time to examine national security implications.
In his comments, Morrison added that he was “pleased a new Australia-India Centre of Excellence for Critical and Emerging Technology Policy” was being set up for technology collaboration.
“The Centre will bring together Australian and Indian technologists, policy practitioners, academics, researchers and thought leaders. Helping our nations shape technology governance so it aligns with our values and supports an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region,” he added.
“The Centre will also promote investment opportunities and innovation between Australia and India in technology, and amplify our policy influence globally,” he added.
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