A bubbles of Trust approach

Synopsis: Given the economic and military strength of China, QUAD needs to adopt a collaborative approach to handle the emerging threats.

Introduction

Over the past few decades, asymmetric globalization favoured China. It allowed Beijing to attain power. Beijing is now using that power to undermine liberal democratic values around the world.

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) or Quad is an informal strategic dialogue between India, the USA, Japan and Australia. The emergence of QUAD grouping is vital not just from the military perspective, but from the perspective of global geopolitics.

What should the Quad counties do?

To counter the Chinese threat,  Quad countries should focus on economic cooperation which is in consonance with their geopolitical interests. Every quad country is rich in a particular domain. For example, the USA is a global leader in intellectual property, Japan in high-value manufacturing, Australia in advanced niches such as quantum computing and cyber security, and India in human capital. A combination of all will offer numerous opportunities.

Quad should adopt a bubble of trust approach (all its members can trust each other). This will offer a middle path between the extremes of technological sovereignty and laissez-faire globalization. This approach will further help them expand organically, attracting new partners that share values, interests and economic complementarities.

Read more: Quad Leaders’ Summit – Explained, pointwise
How would the bubble of trust approach work?

Quad should adopt the Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group. This would allow the scope of the cooperation to be limited to information industries like semiconductors, network infrastructure and connectivity, etc. This will avoid the long and complex negotiations typical of trade agreements.

Moreover, trade blocks tend to be exclusive whereas bubbles tend to expand organically.

Read more: India, Israel, UAE and U.S. launch quad forum
What should be done to improve Quad?

The Quad cannot allow differences of approach to widen in fields such as privacy, data governance and the digital economy. The Working Group must seek to strengthen geopolitical convergences, increase faith in each member state’s judicial systems, deepen economic ties and boost trust in one another’s citizens.

This agenda cannot be about substituting China. Rather, the approach would allow Quad countries to manage their dependencies on China while simultaneously developing a new vision for the global economy.

Source: This post is based on the article “A bubbles of Trust approach” published in The Hindu on 26th October 2021.

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