Synopsis: The Quad needs to be flexible to counterbalance China across a range of issues, be it Afghanistan or the South China Sea.
Quad is now shaping up as a security-plus platform. Recently, India and Australia held their first 2+2 ministerial dialogue. Militaries of the four countries participated in the Malabar joint naval exercise last year. Also, work is underway to produce and deliver a billion Covid vaccines through the group’s network by 2022.
Why QUAD has a security & civilian component?
Though, China has alleged that QUAD is an Asian NATO, it has been deliberately kept as a high-level diplomatic platform – notwithstanding a separate naval component – to prevent a return to the bloc politics of the past. There are two reasons for this:
First, the four Quad nations need to get into the habit of working together. The Covid pandemic and the Galwan valley clashes between India and China last year have seen the group coordinate. But more is needed to achieve regular operational momentum.
Second, the Quad also needs to find the optimum and balanced path between security and civilian cooperation because China represents a multidimensional systemic challenge. To counter China, Quad needs to be multidimensional as it is doing presently by working on Covid vaccines, open technologies and resilient supply chains
What is the way forward?
As the global axis of power shifts partly from the West to the East, Quad democracies need to shape the Indo-Pacific as a free and open region. This will give Southeast Asian nations options to resist China’s strategy of weaponizing economic interdependencies.
In short, the Quad needs to be flexible to counterbalance China across a range of issues, be it Afghanistan or the South China Sea.
Source: This post is based on the article “Power of four: The Quad must be flexible to counter China’s many strategies across a wide range of issues ” published in The Times of India on 13th Sept 2021.