Quad’s role in geopolitical landscape of Indo-Pacific region
THE Quad, also known as the quadrilateral Security Dialogue, comprises four democracies, the US, India, Japan, and Australia.
The idea of Quad was first presented in 2007 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his ‘confluence of two seas’ speech that later heralded the path to the foundation of the group.
China is emerging as a formidable threat to the Quad in the Indo-Pacific region and the creation of a quadrilateral coalition in 2017 is attributed to thwarting Chinese increasing influence in the region.
The primary objective of the Quad is to have a free and open Indo-Pacific region.The democratic norms consolidate ties of the Quad members and view China as a nationalistic and authoritarian government, crushing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, and incarcerating Muslims in concentration camps in its western region of Xinjiang.
They suspected that Beijing has been stepping up threats of military force to occupy Taiwan.
In the pretext of democracy, China’s negation of democratic norms in Hong Kong and its growing foothold in the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions bring the members of the Quad closer to counter China.
Malabar Naval Exercises by Quad members in the Indian Ocean are designed to encircle China and to slow down its economic growth that by and large would have monolithic implications for the region as well as for the world.
Such aggressive moves clarify that the group instead of a recipe for stability in the future is likely to open the way for a confrontation.
China’s remarkable economic growth has enabled her to modernize its military and enhance its economic, political and diplomatic clouts in the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions, resulting in the creation of predicaments for the Quad countries.
The US under the umbrella of the Quad, tries to thwart the Chinese presence and metaphorically uses the Quad as a shared interest in cementing a rule based order in the Indo-Pacific region.
The US under Quad has accentuated a slogan of the “free and open” Indo-Pacific region. Washington’s relations have further exacerbated with Beijing due to the prevailing trade war, the Ukraine crisis, South China Sea conundrum, the coronavirus fallout, human rights issue in Xinjiang, the crackdown in Hong Kong, the Taiwan crisis, intellectual property theft, press freedom and Artificial Intelligence (AI) race.
New Delhi like Tokyo via the Quad intends to reduce China’s ascendency in the Indo-Pacific region and is thoroughly obsessed with reducing the latter’s political and economic power in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as in the East and the African coastlines in the West.
The Quad appears to be an application platform for New Delhi to oppose China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
In order to contain China, Japan has already started sharing intelligence with India, and Australia.
Tokyo has regularly been sharing intelligence with Washington. Japan within its Ministry of Defence has established a new division to accelerate coordination with India and Australia on ASEAN and Pacific Island issues.
Tokyo in its annual defence White Paper unveiled in July 2020 asserted that “China has relentlessly continued unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion in the sea area around the Senkaku Islands, leading to a grave matter of concern.
” Japan single-handedly is unable to counter Beijing’s unstoppable influence in the region views the Quad as a formidable platform to prevent China.
Meanwhile, Australia is dissatisfied with China over the mishandling of human rights violations in Xinjiang and the demonstrations in Hong Kong.
Canberra is deeply suspicious of Beijing’s increasing influence on its domestic issues, ranging from politics to real estate and educational institutions.
Both states are at daggers drawn on ideological issues too.
Canberra is committed to reducing its excessive dependence on China, trying to bolster its ties with ideological partners of the Quad.
The US is in a deep quandary assuming that it may be replaced by an emerging power China.
The US cannot wage a direct war against China alone to weaken the latter; the former would ally to obtain its primary objectives.
It can easily be forecast that the foundation of Quad and its activities of carrying out Malabar Naval Exercises, will incite a confrontation in the region.
China’s String of Pearls strategy is regarded by Quad members as an existential threat to their national interests in the oceans across the world.
It is worrisome to note that international politics first-time witnesses a block of democracies having the sole objective of targeting a specific country.
The US administration under the presidency of Joe Biden looks forward to underpin the Quad to impede China’s rapid assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
Biden, in Quad virtual summit held on March 12, 2020, emphasized “free and open Indo-Pacific” and also indicated that the Quad would remain a key component in the US Indo-Pacific strategy.
The US National Defence Strategy in its January 2018, says that China is engaged in a military modernization program, and desires to have hegemony in the Indo-Pacific region achieve global dominance instead of US.
In the prevailing circumstances, the world order is obviously divided into two blocs, underpinned by the US and China.
The US alone is unable to contain China on the pretext of promotion of democracy; with the support of Quad, the US will put Beijing in hot waters.
The formation of Quad carrying out Malabar exercises by showcasing aggressive postures will create instability and a likelihood of a direct confrontation.
—The writer is lecturer in IR Department at the University of Balochistan, Quetta.