3rd official Quad ministerial meeting held on 18th February 2021. Indian Foreign Minister Dr. S.Jaishankar participated with his counterparts of Japan, Australia, and US.
The group discussed political democracies, market economies, and pluralistic societies. Their main focus was on:
- Upholding a rules-based international order
- Respecting territorial integrity & sovereignty
- Transparency in the rule of law
- Freedom of navigation in the international seas
- Peaceful resolution of disputes
- Climate Change
Their discussion shared a common vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region and clear support for working with ASEAN countries. They also noted that the Indo-Pacific concept is growing international support from various countries including in Europe.
The Ministers also discussed the current Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing vaccination program and also how to minimize the spread using technology.
The group also expressed their views and discussed the recent developments in Myanmar.
What is Quad all about? | What’s its agenda? | When was it formed? | What are its challenges?
What is QUAD?
Quad is a strategic alliance of four democratic nations – India, Japan, Australia, and US. The Quad is also referred as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or The Asian NATO (called by its critics).
It primarily focuses on Economic and Defense.
Its origin can be dated back to December 2004, when The Tsunami on the Indian Ocean created havoc in the South Asian countries. A Tsunami core group was formed by India, Japan, Australia, and US to tackle the situation, though it was not an official Quad Group at that time.
The architect and the mind behind the formation of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) was the visionary leader and the P.M of Japan Shinzo Abe. In the year 2007, he introduced the idea of the Quad.
The picture of the Quad group got more cleared by the joint Malabar Naval Exercise, participated by India, Japan, Australia, US, and Singapore in 2007. Earlier the Malabar naval exercise was performed by the India and US only.
Fall of Quad 1.0
China was not very happy with the formation of Quad and considered it a threat to China. The Chinese raised their concern officially on multiple diplomatic forums.
The aggressor and expansionist China threatened Australia to withdraw from the alliance otherwise it will stop buying coal from them. Since China being the main importer of Australia, it ultimately forced them to withdraw from the group.
Though US was very keen for the establishment of the group but India didn’t show much interest because of the three main reasons:-
- China was not happy with the formation of quad – At that time Indo-Sino relation was developing in a positive direction and India didn’t want to upset China.
- Australia was very close to China and this made them unreliable to trust.
- India was already having trilateral relations with the Quad group and work more on it.
INDIA – US – JAPAN.
INDIA – AUSTRALIA – JAPAN
Revival of Quad
In the year 2016 August, P.M Shinzo Abe started to use the phrase “FREE & OPEN” in the context of ocean in his opening comment of (6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development). His “FREE & OPEN” phrase clearly indicated he was taking out the dominance of China in the South China Sea in the Indo-Pacific region.
Finally in 2017 again in the ASEAN summit, all the original quad members did a meeting to revive the fallen Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad). Since then three official meetings and five informal meetings have taken place till date.
In 2020 Australia also joined the Malabar Naval Exercise.
Need to form the Quad:
Though it has been never said from the official forum of Quad but the main reason to create the group was to tackle the dominance of the aggressor and expansionist China in the South Asian region especially in the South China Sea of the Indo – Pacific region.
China’s debt trap formula has destroyed many small South Asian countries in terms of economy. The best example is the Port of Hambantota which is given to a Chinese firm for a lease of 99 years as The Sri Lanka was unable to pay its debt.
Also, the expansionist China claims several islands in the The South China Sea and the ASEAN countries are unable to tackle its dominance. Moreover, China has polarized the ASEAN countries among them and some of them are in favour and have accepted its dominance over them. If the claims are legitimized then China will have the full authority to govern the navigation in the South China Sea.
So, the four countries came together to tackle the expansionist China with a common vision of:
- Creating a financial mechanism for the smaller countries so that they are not trapped in China’s debt-trap policy.
- To keep in check the dominance of China and freedom of navigation.
- Exchange of Information
- Sustainable development of the Indo-Pacific
Challenges to Overcome:
- All four countries are highly dependent on China because of the trade. They have to become China independent to counter China in every field.
- ASEAN countries are closer to China. Because of the debt trap policy, China has invested in bulk. The Quad has to focus and work more closely with the ASEAN.
- Has no clear vision. The Quad group has to clear its agenda and inform the world about its framework in a transparent manner.
- China calls it an Asian NATO. The members of Quad should assure that it is not a military alliance like China calls it rather it is for the regional benefit. The image should be clear that the Quad is for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, anti-piracy operation and infrastructure assistance to climatically vulnerable nations.