The grouping of four democracies –India, Australia, US and Japan– known as the quadrilateral security dialogue or quad, was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. The strategy to confront China underscored a growing regional competition between Beijing and Washington. The Quad meeting came as the US appeared to be shifting strategic focus. As Trump had referred to the region as the ‘Indo-Pacific’ rather than the ‘Asia-Pacific’, clearly underlining the policy tilt, which is annoying Beijing.
When the idea of Quad was barely surfacing, China labelled it as an Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The real reason for China to react this way was out of concern that such a group would ‘out’ China’s plans for Naval expansion in the Indo-Pacific maritime space.
In 2016, China itself established a Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.
The Quad nations, however, need to better explain that the Indo-Pacific Vision is a framework discussed in a transparent manner. They should also explain the objective is in the advancement of everyone’s economic and security interests. They need to chart the future path and also avoid any needless provocation to China.
An outreach to the Indian Ocean littoral states is also important because reports from some quarters suggest India is seeking to deny access to some extra-regional countries through the Indian Ocean.
A positive agenda built around humanitarian assistance and disaster relief or anti piracy operations will reassure littoral states that the Quad will be helpful in regional benefit and is a far cry from Chinese allegations that it is some sort of military alliance.
This article has been written by Riya Rajayyan for The Paradigm
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