Act of QUAD

By: Keval Dholakia

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (commonly mentioned as QUAD) is an informal grouping initialized by the then Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe in the year 2007 in the form of a congregation involving Australia, India and itself forming an ‘Asian arc’ with the United States. It was done in order to draw some attention towards the international affairs that could result being a hindrance to the growth and development of any of the member nations. Analysts addressed this as a ‘strategic partnership’, serving as a step towards cooperation against the rapidly rising, market-capturing, assertively challenging China.  

Then somehow the gist and momentum were lost and there was no hint of QUAD being revived until 2017. Surprisingly, no country had a major political change in a decade except India, the unforgettable shift from UPA to NDA. On 12th November 2017, the East Asia summit which took place in Manila was the one where this grouping was reactivated. Later in New York, the ministers met in the late September of 2019. Following that, The Supply Chain was initiated after almost a year and now recently the foreign ministers met in Tokyo, on 6th of October 2020. Interestingly, in the middle of this global pandemic, this meeting was planned in-person, and not on virtual basis. When the whole world is functioning virtually, what was so important that was to be discussed that stopped the leaders to opt for the technology, not risking data privacy, and go for the traditional way of conducting meetings?


The Asian NATO

Referring to QUAD, there have always been some of the major gaps which nullify the benefits of this informal alliance. They haven’t adopted the practice of putting out joint statements or performing or declaring any military exercises as a team. The question of being under institutionalized is unanswered. And the motive, the purpose or the meaning of formation of such a gathering is still lacking. Although, they might not be willing to disclose about the same in public, as a part of some strategy.

QUAD is compared with the NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and is also called as its Asian version yet there are a few holes in the idea of this grouping. Though they can be filled to try to fit in the name of Asian NATO. There is a thought that if it can include or collaborate or have a joint project with the ASEANS (The Association of South East Asian Nations), there are higher chances of things going their way.


What topics made into the discussion?

There are few concerns which demanded conversation among world’s biggest democracies. The novel corona virus is spreading at an astonishing

pace and controlling the death toll is not that all the governments have successfully accomplished. Even though China is the epicenter of the whole pandemic, it has had the most success in fighting, curing and getting back at the crisis situation and the growth numbers make it very evident. The rest of the world, on the other hand, is not handling the figures the way they would wish to. India with over 7.5 million cases and over a hundred and fifteen thousand deaths second tops the chart; first being the United States with over 8.4 million cases and over two twenty-five thousand deaths. These topics should have made into the conversation. Some of the critical concerns that had to be discussed on the 6th October includes the Supply Chain in the Indo Pacific area, the Border Security Alliance in the region, the funds related to the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative and the fact that can more countries join the informal grouping which can help QUAD deliver more effectively. Some of the other issues which may have gained enough importance to make its way in the meeting could be:                                                                                                                                        The way China has been progressing in the world market, it would not hesitate before getting into any trade wars in the near future and at the same time the rest of world is so economically inefficient and unstable amid the pandemic and hence is very much less likely to hold that potential for any of the economic challenges.  For the group, the Indo-Pacific region is the weak point where the opposition has full military control and the Chinese have displayed quite coercive behaviors in the past to pause the trade, due to its uncordial relations with Japan. Japan usually stays primed for all the dirty Chinese tricks that could result as an obstruction to the international trade but this time things seem to be different.

Meanwhile Australia is experiencing some unique trade barriers from the Chinese side in the trade of wine and meat. India, on the other hand is arguing on geographical issues with China as its north-eastern neighbor keeps claiming the area which never was theirs. Indo-Chinese border is witnessing some serious tension since last few months and things would not be in the favour of India if the situation gets worse. Falsely claiming other’s land is something Chinese have been practicing with Japan too over the Senkaku Islands.


The United States, the only non-Asian QUAD member, has been giving and, having a tough time dealing with the Chinese government. Over this global pandemic, things have got nothing but worse. China has also been way too active in the United Nations in the recent years which shows its interest in the international affairs; be it a normal conversation with the WHO or any general assembly of the UN. It is having some major conflicts with Hong Kong in the recent times and seems to be challenging all its neighbors at the same time.

China definitely knows what is going on, the reformation and active functioning of QUAD is not news them, but after a few official protests no action has been taken from their part since these years.


What is QUAD willing to do?

How serious these members are cannot be understood whilst going through the leaders’ speeches however it can be understood by the amount of investments they are ready to put in for their desired results. More the investment, more desperate is the nation to abate the Chinese activities.

Japan has declared subsidies to the factories that will be moving out of China.

The United States is following the latest technology and strategy of the Chinese actions.

Australia has offered 1.4 billion dollars as infrastructural fund for the Chinese manufacturer in case they move out.

And India, the closest relative is meaning to offer 23 billion dollars’ worth investments to the companies that would move out of China and set-up their industries in India. The Indian Prime Minister recently launched a campaign called ‘Race 2020’ that could offer as updated technology as much as the Chinese.

The QUAD is showing its major interest towards hampering the growth of China, however not admitting it in front of the world.


India, being a common customer of majorly all the nations, does not in any case, hold the capacity of hosting or be a part of the smallest form of warfare at this point. The economic, political and social structural bodies of India are bungled up and therefore our nation cannot afford any dispute against the powerful nations. Nevertheless, it would be the best for India if any major decisions over trade and exchanges are not taken over these informal meets.

Americans on the other hand are the least affected from this Chinese dominion created in some parts of Asia in recent times. The US is also known for its dual personality in foreign affairs and the members of the QUAD want it to be a faithful supporter instead of a misleading ally that could end up putting three major countries in some serious danger. The relationship of India and the US is growing lately, apart from the general informal meeting of the QUAD, the US diplomat Mike Pompeo and the Indian representative S. Jaishankar are said to be meeting separately. Mike also met the Japanese Yoshihide Suga to talk over the same set of issues in the last month.

Looking at the present situation, if QUAD actively initiates practices with the aim of domination then they may succeed in minimizing the power of the communist government on a global level. They would have to remain faithful and would also have to unite their military establishments as and when needed; at least against their favorite enemy. The way the QUAD is actively practicing in activities like the Malabar exercise with full contribution, they could have an indirect, long term impact on the China’s trade. Once these projects grab a tight grip, they could be compared to ‘ASEAN’ or could be called as ‘Asian NATO’, as the media keeps addressing it.

Sources:- (Tanvi Madan: Brookings)