QUAD purpose unclear! | By Samreen Bari Aamir

155

QUAD purpose unclear!


WHAT is the QUAD and why it needs to be set up? Was it set up to counter China’s Belt and Road project or is it only a political alliance to boost the economy and to promote freedom in the Asia –Pacific. It is important to know the objective behind this alliance.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested the Quad in 2007, envisioning a grouping that would better maintain Asia-Pacific “freedom and prosperity.”

Despite the fact that he did not address China by name, his ideas were commonly interpreted as a response to Beijing’s increasing presence or dominance in the region.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD, also known as the Quad) is an informal political dialogue between the US, Japan, Australia, and India that is established by bilateral talks.

Surprisingly, purpose of the organization is still unclear. And more surprisingly, all the countries in the organization avoid open opposition to China.

Quad press releases from each country’s respective foreign relations institutions never once used the term “China,” and neither did the US. However, it is clear that the policy of all members is to contain China.

The US has defied the temptation to turn the Quad into an anti-China bloc, ostensibly at the request of other, more reluctant members.

The group is in crisis over whether to counter China openly or not, the coalition is experiencing the same concerted action issues that have plagued other counterbalancing coalitions in the past.

It is clear that all these countries have come together to counter China. First and foremost, the Quad must decide if China’s containment can be achieved by economic cooperation through supply chains or by a defence alliance. The Quad seems to be leaning towards the latter at the moment.

There are also indications that the Quad is about to take steps to reinforce their status as a defence force.

The annual Malabar naval drills between India, the United States, and Japan are the most visible evidence of Quad action so far. Australia entered these drills in November of last year.

The US is considering inviting the air forces of Australia, India, and Japan to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam for training and to improve interoperability between the Quad air forces.

The drills, according to the tabloid, were part of an attempt to curb China’s growth, and the four-country coalition was dubbed “the Asian equivalent of NATO” – a phrase coined by China’s top diplomat to characterise the informal grouping.

It does not seem possible for China to remain silent in this situation. Sooner or later the results will start to come.

Sooner or later we will have another similar organization to counter existing QUAD. In this regard, Pakistan is also gaining importance as already US has announced to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan and Sino-Iran and Sino-Russian foreign relations can change the whole scenario.

As a result, tensions in the region will escalate. And the world seems to be moving toward a new cold war.

—The writer is a researcher, based in Islamabad.