What is QUAD? Definition, Meaning QUAD Countries

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The The globe is changing constantly at a fast pace as the new power centres are emerging and older ones rejuvenating. The Chinese aggression in its maritime and land domain is a fine example of the quick and rapid changes occurring in the neighbourhood of India. In this context, the four countries of Quad have strengthened their efforts, including India, to secure their interests in all the spheres such as political, economic, environmental, security etc. India has significant strategic interests in the Indo-pacific region. To secure its interests against the unilateral rise of Chinese aggression, it will need to form strategic alliances such as Quad grouping.

What is QUAD?

Quad or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is an informal strategic dialogue between four countries that include India, Australia, USA and the Island nation of Japan. It aims to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region. The idea of Quad grouping was first given by the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the year 2007. At that time, the idea could not move forward as Australia had pulled out apparantely due to Chinese pressure. Another reason for the discontinuation of Quad included more Beijing friendly regime in Japan and reiteration of India-China relationship.

During the 2017 ASEAN summit, all the four members rejoined the negotiations to revive this quadrilateral security alliance. They gave shape to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-pacific region free of any influence, especially Chinese influence. The organisation now aims to promote a “free and open Indo-Pacific amid China’s aggressive postures in the region.” India, Japan and USA were in talks to invite Australia for a quadrilateral coordinated navy exercise at Malabar.

This military exercise will give a new military dimension to the Quad grouping. These four countries have strongly asserted their views that China’s growing assertiveness should be contained in the Indo-Pacific region. The Quad, apart from containing China’s growing influence, also provides freedom from uncertainties in the Asian region.

The Quad is also a grouping of like-minded democratic countries that will certainly help in promoting the values of democracy, rules, diversity, cooperation and inclusiveness. It will be more sustainable if the countries are able to balance their interests and include more substantive dimensions apart from the current ones.

Dimensions of Quad

Diplomatic

The Quad is a forum for diplomatic contation. The meeting of Quad huve sought to address the broader anders of the Indo-Pacific region. There is high level of policy coordination between the members that impeet the rules based regional order, including maritime security, terrorism, cyber security and connectivity. The Quad can complement even the ASEAN cooperation that is helpful for maintaining peace and prosperity in the Asian region

Intelligence

Quad is not yet a strategic alliance. So, there are limitations how much intelligence can be shared between its members Despite this, there are increasing signs of information sharing in a number of military sectors, including maritime domain awareness.

As the Quad member’s major military assets are located throughout the Indian ocean, this immense geographical range provides a certain strategie advantage The information sharing can be enhanced in the maritime sector to tackle issues such as maritime terrorism and piracy. All the four countries are building information networks with Australia, Japan and USA sharing defence related information through an agreement. India has also begun to create the foundations for information sharing with USA and Japan.

Military

Military component of the Quad does not play an important part in deterrence. Military cooperation among the four members of Quad are limited. But military-to-military cooperation is necessary. Measures can be taken to improve the preparedness of military for any contingency in the Indo-Pacific. There must be capacity building of the Indo-Pacific regional states. Military technology and defence equipment transfer will also be essential States in the region still rely on major powers such as Russia and USA. India can also play atleast a supplementary role in enhancing the military capabilities of the regional states.

Economy

The economic aspect of Quad will include economic integration and regional connectivity. China’s Belt and Road Initiative has made significant impact on the existing rules of development of infrastructure. The capital provided by China to various developing countries is used by them to fulfil their infrastructural needs. The regional connectivity initiatives should aim at integrating the far West Asia and Central Asian region with the South-East Asia through the Indian Ocean Investments to create strategic infrastructure should be undertaken to improve regional connectivity and secure mutual interests in trade, commerce, connectivity, peace and prosperity.

Quad Nations and China

The four member countries of the Quad have some common reservations regarding China’s influence in the region as these countries are affected by China’s growing influence in their respective sphere of influence.

USA

USA has followed a consistent policy to restrain China’s increasing influence in East Asia. USA sees Quad as an opportunity to regain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region. The USA has described China as a strategic rival in its national security strategy, national defence strategy and Pentagon’s report on the Indo-Pacific strategy

Australia

Australia has been concerned about China’s growing interests land, infrastructure, politics and its universities. Taking in account its overwhelming economic dependence on China for the prosperity of the continent, it has continued its commitment to a comprehensive strategic partnership with China. It is seeking to shift away from its overwhelming dependence on China.

Japan

Japan has expressed concerns related to China’s territorial the region. As Japan has also large trade relations with China therefore, Japan has its economic needs and territorial concerns.

India

China’s violation of international norms, boundary transgressions construction of military facilities etc have posed a serious challenge for India. India needs to confront the Chinese aggression on its borders, secure its land as well as maritime interests and maintain strategic autonomy.

Advantages or Opportunities for India

For India, there are face-offs at the border, the effects of One Initiative and impact of China-Pakistan economic corridor on its strategic landscape. The Quad provides it with many advantages to eliminate these challenges. The opportunities for India include that

  1. Increased Defence Spending China spends huge sums on its defence is more than the collective spending of Japan, Australia and India together. The presence of USA in the grouping will provide a necessary boost to the defence sector of India as it will aid in technology transfer and defence cooperation.
  2. Secured Borders With Chinese aggression on India’s borders, Quad can prove to be an effective alliance to reduce Chinese influence in the border regions of India. The situation in the Northern borders has been worsened by both China’s and Pakistan’s influence in pressurising India. Quad can play a balancing role in this situation.
  3. Sustainability in Indian Ocean Indian ocean is the only ocean of the world that is named after a country, that is India. India has the responsibility to act as the net security provider in the Indian ocean region. For providing sustainability and prosperity in the Indian ocean region, India along with the Quad nations can counter Chinese String of Pearls or Maritime Silk Road and its debt trap diplomacy.
  4. India’s Act East Policy India’s Act East policy that aims to promote economic strategic and cultural relations with vast Asia-Pacific region will be strengthened with the involvement of India with Quad grouping. It will also provide a boost to the vision of SAGAR- Security and Growth for all in the region.
  5. Stability in the Region India is concerned about the declining significance of USA and growing Chinese influence in the Indian ocean and Asian region. This imbalance created by such a situation may create instabilities in the regions that affect India’s interests. Thus, Quad grouping can be an opportunity to infuse stability in its neighbourhood region.

Challenges with Quad

Though the Quad Grouping has many perceptible advantages but it has various issues that need to be resolved to make it a success. These issues include

An Undefined Vision

Despite the potential for cooperation, the Quad remains a mechanism without any defined strategic objectives. This can also be ascertained by the separate interests of each country in the grouping. India wants to advance the security and economic interests of all countries in region whereas US wants a formal alliance.

Non-alignments

India’s foreign policy works on the principle of Non-alignment. India will need to abandon its strategy of non-alignment in order to counter the Chinese threat by having a formal alliance with us and other two countries in the form of Quad.

Chinese Closeness to ASEAN

China has advanced huge loans to the ASEAN region. It has also several strategic infrastructure projects and military bases in various islands of ASEAN countries. Chinese influence has further grown in the

ASEAN after the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) pact. 4. No Convergence Among Members All the Quad members have different strategic interests. They look forward to the Quad to enhance their own interests and fulfil their aspirations. A coherent vision among the Quad members is absent. Though advances have been made in various talks among the members but a common and long term vision document is necessary.

Way Forward

The Quad will have to evolve a clear vision for itself. It will need to move beyond the China centricity and be open towards accommodating each other’s interests and ensure that talks of a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific” is more than just talks. The Quad should focus on building a robust regional mechanism and cooperate with all the regional players to evolve a more inclusive Asia, simultaneously balancing each other’s interests.

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