Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Mounting counter challenge to China through Quad


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- India's nuanced approach to Quad

The article discusses the outcomes of the recently concluded first Quad Summit in the context of India.

Message to China after Quad summit

  • The first Learders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework was held on March 12.
  • This Summit conveyed a three-pronged message to China:
  • 1) Under the new U.S. President, “America is back” in terms of its desire to play a leading role in other regions.
  • 2) It views China as its primary challenger for that leadership.
  • 3) The Quad partnership is ready to mount a counter-challenge, albeit in “soft-power” terms at present, in order to do so.
  • For both Japan and Australia the outcomes of the summit, both in terms of the “3C’s”working groups established on COVID-19 vaccines, Climate Change and Critical Technology and in terms of this messaging to the “4th C” (China) are very welcome.

4 Outcomes of Quad Summit for India

  • For India the outcomes of the Quad Summit need more nuanced analysis.

1) COVID-19 Vaccine

  • India is not only the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines (by number of doses produced, it has already exported 58 million doses to nearly 71 countries.
  • It is also manufacturing a billion doses for South East Asia (under the Quad), over and above its current international commitments.
  • India has also planned to vaccinate 300 million people as originally planned by September.
  • All this comes down to total 1.8 billion doses which will require a major ramp up in capacity and funding, and will bear testimony to the power of Quad cooperation, if realised.
  • However, the effort could have been made much easier had India’s Quad partners also announced dropping their opposition to India’s plea at the World Trade Organization.
  • India had filed the plea along with South Africa in October 2020, seeking waiver from certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19.

2) Climate change

  • On climate change, India has welcomed the return of the U.S. to the Paris accord.
  • Mr. Biden has promised to restart the U.S.’s funding of the global Green Climate Fund, which Mr. Trump ended.
  • India still awaits a large part of the $1.4 billion commitment by the U.S. to finance solar technology in 2016.
  • Mr. Biden might also consider joining the International Solar Alliance, which the other Quad members are a part of, but the U.S.

3) Critical technology

  • India will welcome any assistance in reducing its dependence on Chinese telecommunication equipment and in finding new sources of rare-earth minerals.
  • India would oppose Quad partners weighing in on international rule-making on the digital economy, or data localisation.
  • Such a move had led New Delhi to walk out of the Japan-led “Osaka track declaration” at the G-20 in 2019.

4) Dealing with China

  • On this issue, it is still unclear how India can go on the Quad’s intended outcomes.
  • While India shares the deep concerns and the tough messaging set out by the Quad on China, especially after the year-long stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the killings at Galwan that India has faced, it has demurred from any non-bilateral statement on it.
  • India is the only Quad member not a part of the military alliance that binds the other members.
  • India is also the only Quad country with a land boundary with China.
  • And it is the only Quad country which lives in a neighbourhood where China has made deep inroads.
  • Indian officials are still engaged in LAC disengagement talks and have a long way to go to de-escalation or status quo ante.

3 long term impacts on strategic planning

  • The violence at the LAC has also left three long-term impacts on Indian strategic planning:
  • First, the government must now expend more resources, troops, infrastructure funds to the LAC and ensure no recurrence of the People’s Liberation Army April 2020 incursions.
  • Second, India’s most potent territorial threat will not be from either China or Pakistan, but from both i.e. “two-front situation”.
  • Third, that India’s continental threat perception will need to be prioritised against any maritime commitments the Quad may claim, especially further afield in the Pacific Ocean.

Consider the question “The Quad’s ideology of a “diamond of democracies” can only succeed if it does not insist on exclusivity in India’s strategic calculations given that India shares a special place among the Quad members when it comes to its relationship with China. Comment”


Despite last week’s Quad Summit, India’s choices for its Quad strategy will continue to be guided as much by its location on land as it is by its close friendships with fellow democracies.

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1 year ago

Please can you fix your website!! News summaries from the previous dates are not visible properly. Only 3 articles per date are showing up. Very inconvenient!!