Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and the leaders of the U.S., Australia and India are expected to meet online Friday for the first “Quad” leaders summit, in what is shaping up to be a crucial moment for U.S. President Joe Biden to crystallize his administration’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region in the face of China’s growing assertiveness.

Known officially as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Quad is an informal strategic forum of the four nations that holds semiregular meetings, joint military drills, and discussions about regional economic and development assistance. The framework itself was established in 2007, but it took on a new level of importance in 2019 with a discussion among foreign ministers amid Beijing's expanding influence.

The four nations' top diplomats held a teleconference last month to rebuke China’s moves to deploy forces in the region and agree on the need to restore a democratically elected government in Myanmar. In October, top envoys convened in Tokyo for a rare in-person meeting amid the coronavirus pandemic.