From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Quad members
Mains level : Paper 2- Future course of action for Quad
The article discusses the future course of action for the Quad and issues it faces in the present circumstances.
Evolution of the Quad
- In 2007, the Quad (the United States, Japan, India, and Australia) was an idea whose time had not yet come.
- The global financial crisis was yet to happen as America continued to enjoy its ‘unipolar moment’.
- The American still expected China to become a ‘responsible stake-holder’.
- America required Chinese goodwill in handling issues with North Korea and Iran, and the War on Terror.
- Japan and Australia were riding the China Boom to prosperity.
- If India was ambivalent at the time, it was because this mirrored the uncertainties of others.
China’s reaction and naval expansion
- When the idea of Quad was barely on the table; the Chinese, labelled it as an Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
- The real reason for China’s hyperreaction was out of concern that such a grouping would “out” China’s plans for naval expansion by focusing on the Indo-Pacific maritime space.
- Once the idea of Quad 1.0 had died down, China advanced a new claim — the Nine-Dash Line — in the South China Sea.
- It undertook the rapid kind of warship building activity
- It built its first overseas base in Djibouti.
- It started systematically to explore the surface and sub-surface environment in the Indian Ocean beyond the Malacca Straits.
- China’s dismissal of the Arbitral Award in the dispute with the Philippines on the South China Sea and its militarization of the islands has given a second chance to the Quad.
Quad: A plurilateral mechanism
- The Quad nations need to better explain that the Indo-Pacific Vision is an overarching framework being discussed in a transparent manner.
- They should also explain that the objective of Indo-Pacific vision is of advancing everyone’s economic and security interests.
- The Quad is a plurilateral mechanism between countries that share interest on specific matters.
- In 2016, China itself established a Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.
- The Quad is no exception.
- The forthcoming Ministerial Quad meeting will be an opportunity to define the idea and chart a future path.
- Needless provocation of China should be avoided.
- Other countries might be invited to join in the future.
- An outreach to the Indian Ocean littoral states is especially important since there are reports from some quarters suggesting that India is seeking to deny access to some extra-regional countries through the Indian Ocean.
A positive agenda built around collective action in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, monitoring shipping for search and rescue or anti-piracy operations, infrastructure assistance to climatically vulnerable states, connectivity initiatives and similar activities, will re-assure the littoral States that the Quad will be a factor for regional benefit, and a far cry from Chinese allegations that it is some sort of a military alliance.