From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : The Quad
Mains level : Paper 2- Fourth factors the Quad must consider about Asia
The article highlights the 4 issues related to the history and geopolitics of Asian that the Quad members should pay attention to while formulating the future course of action.
The 4 factors
If the Quad is to prosper as a geopolitical construct, it would do well to heed four lessons drawn from the long arc of Asia’s history and geopolitics.
1) Lack of existence of Indo-Pacific system
- There has never been Indo-Pacific system ever since the rise of the port-based kingdoms of Indochina in the first half of the second millennium.
- There were two Asian systems — an Indian Ocean system and an East Asian system — with intricate sub-regional balances.
- The effort by a U.S. to artificially manufacture to combine the Indo and the Pacific into a unitary system is unlikely to succeed.
2) Lack of peaceful existence dominated by any power
- The Indo-Pacific region possesses no prior experience of long period of peace, prosperity and stability engineered from its maritime fringes.
- Rather, dynamic long cycles of Chinese influence radiating outwards have alternated with sharp periods of turmoil.
- The of ASEAN-centred multilateralism is more in tune with regional tradition and historical circumstance.
- For their part, the Indo-Pacific’s ‘flanking powers’, India and Japan, have never balanced Chinese power throughout their illustrious histories.
3) India must use its leverage judiciously
- The sea lines of communication constitute the important links connecting Indian Ocean to the Western Pacific.
- It is also a valuable arena of leverage vis-à-vis Chinese shipping and resource flows.
- This leverage must be wielded judiciously on India’s terms, not on the Quad’s terms.
- The Quad, after all, has little to offer materially with regard to New Delhi’s continental two-front dilemma.
- However, ceding this chokepoint leverage will invite overwhelming Chinese pressure against the full range of India’s South Asian interests — to which the other Quad members possess neither will nor desire to answer.
4) Check on China’s India Ocean Ambitions
- The Quad has a valuable role to play as a check on China’s Indian Ocean ambitions.
- India must develop ingrained habits of interoperable cooperation with its Quad partners.
- This interoperable cooperation could pre-emptively dissuade China from mounting a naval challenge in its backyard.
The Quad must consider these factors while formulating the future course of action.