2022 MAY 23
International relations > Strategic Groupings > International groupings
- Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took part in the 2nd in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit held in Tokyo, Japan.
- This was the fourth interaction of the Leaders since their first virtual meeting in March 2021, the Summit in Washington D.C in September 2021 and their virtual interaction in March 2022.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE QUAD LEADERS’ SUMMIT IN TOKYO:
- Free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific:
- QUAD leaders reiterated their shared commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and the importance of upholding the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and peaceful resolution of disputes.
- They outlined the importance of implementing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight, to meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas.
- Enhancing focus on Pacific island partners:
- QUAD nations affirmed to enhancing focus on Pacific island partners via Pacific Islands Forum unity and for Pacific regional security frameworks.
- Climate Change:
- QUAD leaders observed the latest IPCC reports, and committed to steadfastly implement the Paris Agreement and deliver on the outcomes of COP26. They launched the "Quad Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Package (Q-CHAMP)” with "mitigation” and "adaptation” as its two themes.
- Q-CHAMP was announced to strengthen efforts towards green shipping, clean energy including green hydrogen and climate and disaster resilient infrastructure.
- COVID-19 and Global Health Security:
- QUAD leaders pledged to lead global efforts for COVID-19 response, with a view to building health security and strengthening health systems across the region.
- QUAD pledged "collective approach" to prepare for new COVID-19 variants, and get vaccines, tests, treatments, and other medical products to those at highest risk.
- Cyber security, Space & Maritime Domain Awareness and HADR:
- Quad’s Common Statement of Principles on Critical Technology Supply Chains
- As part of ongoing work related to critical and emerging technologies, Quad’s Common Statement of Principles on Critical Technology Supply Chains was launched. The four countries will coordinate capacity building programmes for the Indo-Pacific region to bolster critical cyber security infrastructure of the region.
- Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA)
- A new maritime domain awareness initiative, the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) was signed to effectively respond to humanitarian and natural disasters, and combat illegal fishing in the Indo-Pacific.
- Leaders also announced the establishment of the "Quad Partnership on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) in the Indo-Pacific” to strengthen collaboration to effectively respond to disasters in Indo Pacific region.
WHAT IS QUAD?
- The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, also known as the Quad, is an informal strategic dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia and India.
- Objectives of the Quad:
- One of the primary objectives of the Quad is to work for a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
- According to the Spirit of the Quad, the group’s primary objectives include maritime security, combating the Covid-19 crisis, especially vis-à-vis vaccine diplomacy, addressing the risks of climate change, creating an ecosystem for investment in the region and boosting technological innovation.
- Though not stated explicitly, one of the major bases for the grouping is to check China’s growing influence in Indo-Pacific region.
- The first steps towards quad were originally born from the crisis that followed the tsunami in December 2004. The ‘Tsunami Core Group’, consisting of the U.S., Australia, India and Japan coordinated the humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.
- A direct pitch for Quad was first mooted in 2007 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. However, the idea didn’t move ahead.
- In December 2012, Shinzo Abe once again came up with a similar concept of Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond”. This concept involved Australia, India, Japan and the US. The objective was maritime security from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.
- In 2017, Representatives from the four nations met on the margins of the Manila ASEAN Summit. Since then, periodic meetings have continued.
- The Quad was revived in 2017 with a meeting of Joint Secretary-rank officials of the four countries.
- In 2020, the trilateral India-US-Japan Malabar naval exercises expanded to include Australia. This was an important juncture in Quad’s history as it marked the first joint military exercises among the four countries in over a decade.
- March 2021 was the first time, leaders of the four nations met virtually for an official Quad summit, releasing for the first time a set of objectives for the grouping in a joint statement called the ‘The Spirit of the Quad’.
- The March 2021 virtual summit gave rise to the main objectives of the Quad, outlined actionable goals, and formed expert working groups in multiple areas.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF QUAD?
- Counter aggressive Chinese actions:
- The aggressions in the South China Sea and along India’s borders are indications of China attempting to unilaterally change the power dynamics in Asia. Only a powerful group like Quad can prevent China’s hegemonic regional ambitions over Asia.
- Freedom of navigation:
- The South China Sea seems set to become a “Lake Beijing": a sea deep enough for the Chinese navy to base their nuclear-powered attacks. This threatens the freedom of navigation and a strong grouping like Quad is essential to prevent this.
- Ensure global peace and security:
- Quad members share democratic values and are active supporters of a rules-based world order. Their presence will help ensure a free, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
- Address common threats:
- Quad can become an effective forum to address modern day challenges such as Terrorism, refugee crisis, human rights violations, cyber security, data colonisation, sea level rise and climate change.
WHY IS THE QUAD IMPORTANT FOR INDIA?
- Support to strategically countering China:
- The Quad provides a platform to India to seek cooperation from like-minded countries on various issues such as ensuring respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes.
- For example, as there is a rise in the Chinese hostilities on its borders, India can take the support of the other Quad nations to counter it.
- Also, support of Quad partners can be used to counter Chinese strategy of surrounding India through String of Pearls.
- India is working with Quad partners to offer alternatives to the China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a project that undermines India’s territorial sovereignty and regional primacy.
- Recently, as a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the Quad nations agreed to extend more than $50 billion of assistance to the Indo-Pacific region over the next five years to bridge the infrastructure gaps.
- Strengthen India’s role in Indo Pacific region:
- India has strengthened its naval ties with each of the other Quad countries, and there have been more interactions, formal and informal at the official, political and military levels.
- This benefits India’s position as a net security provider in the Indian ocean region.
- Free and Open Indo-Pacific:
- India supports a rules-based, balanced and stable trade environment in the Indo-Pacific region.
- QUAD has a shared commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and the importance of upholding the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and peaceful resolution of disputes.
- Strengthen Act East Policy of India:
- QUAD provides India with a powerful platform to advance and further strengthen its Act East policy.
- Enhance strategic partnerships and defence capabilities:
- Quad has offered an opportunity to strengthen partnership with the like-minded countries through military exercises, joint patrols, exchange of strategic information, strategic dialogues, technical agreements and coordinated activities etc.
- E.g. all four members of the Quad have been participating in the Malabar exercise since 2020.
- Converging interests:
- India has converging interests with other Quad members on a variety of issues such as connectivity and infrastructure development, security including counter-terrorism; cyber and maritime security; reform of multilateral institutions, etc.
- Support from Quad members on these issues would help India to realize its strategic and economic goals.
- For example, in Quad leaders’ summit at Tokyo, Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA), Quad’s Common Statement of Principles on Critical Technology Supply Chains, Quad Partnership on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) etc., were launched.
Other major initiatives under QUAD:
- Quad Vaccine Initiative (QVI):
- Quad leaders launched the Quad Vaccine Initiative (QVI) with the aim of manufacturing and distributing at least a billion COVID-19 vaccines for the Asia region by the end of 2022.
- Initiatives in emerging technologies:
- As for emerging technologies, the four countries aimed to work on the development and diversification of 5G telecommunications and the creation of supply chains for critical minerals and technologies for making semiconductors used in smartphones, an area where China is a leader.
- Working group for combatting climate change:
- The Quad created a working group for combatting climate change which would oversee efforts to foster green shipping by decarbonising maritime supply chains and promoting the use of clean hydrogen.
CHALLENGES TO QUAD:
- Economic relations between Quad countries and China:
- Though Quad is countering the growing influence of China, all Quad countries have complex economic relations with China.
- China is either the first or the second largest trading partner, or a key import/export partner for all of the Quad countries.
- The formation of AUKUS:
- Australia, the UK and the US has created AUKUS to take up security challenges in the Indo-Pacific.
- Though US said that AUKUS and the Quad would complement each other, AUKUS will definitely affect the strategic choices of Japan and India.
- Japan, India and Australia were nominally equal partners of the US under the Quad framework. But the US offered special treatment to Australia through formation of AUKUS. This will negatively impact the Quad.
- Lacks institutional structure:
- The Quad is not structured like a typical multilateral organisation and lacks a secretariat and any permanent decision-making body.
- India’s stand in Russia-Ukraine conflict:
- Three members — US, Japan and Australia — have taken a stand against Russia’s aggression, while India’s position has been one of studied neutrality that calls for respect of territorial sovereignty and integrity and the UN charter, but does not criticise Russia. India’s separateness on the issue may affect the Quad.
- Differing views on Chinese threat:
- Each members of Quad views the Chinese threat differently.
- For the US, it is about trade and Taiwan and for Australia too, trade was the biggest issue until the recent establishment of a Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands brought a new dimension.
- Japan and India are closest to China, and both face belligerent Chinese claims to territory.
- Unfavourable history:
- Historically, Cold War military alliances in South and Southeast Asia- such as SEATO, CENTO, ANZUS – were all failures because of the unwillingness of regional powers to cooperate. Even today, nation states value their diplomatic manoeuvrability than ceding their interests to a revisionist group.
- Nuclear threat:
- Almost 6 countries possessing nuclear weapon lies in the Indo-Pacific (including North Korea) and even a small trigger can have grave consequences for peace and stability of the region.
- Expand the partnership
- Quad members have indicated a willingness to expand the partnership through a so-called Quad Plus that would include South Korea, New Zealand, and Vietnam amongst others.
- Expand cooperation:
- Quad will only succeed if it serves a more substantive purpose.
- So the Quad should focus on maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, Cyber-security, energy security, and regional capacity-building.
- Several initiatives in this regard have already been launched in the recent in-person summit in Tokyo. E.g. Q-CHAMP, IPMDA etc.
- Prepare strategy for China:
- If the countries are to go ahead with Quad, they need to develop both individual and collective strategies in dealing with China — with whom they all will, and should, continue to engage.
- Foster mutual trust:
- Just one defection to a softer line on China could easily spell doom for the Quad all over again. To prevent this, members must engage in regular discussions and alleviate the lack of trust among the members.
- Cooperation with ASEAN:
- The Quad should seek to harness consensus with ASEAN as a whole, promoting cooperation in the shared interests among the two.
Q. “The success of Quad will be determined by its ability to emerge as forum that will shoulder the realities in the Indo-Pacific”. Discuss.