The roadmap for bilateral and multilateral relations for any country is decided by their respective key national interests and common strategic objectives. In the emerging dynamics of complex global geopolitics, countries collaborate multilaterally keeping their common strategic objectives in the epicentre. Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) is one such platform working continuously to keep the Indo-Pacific region stable and secure. However, considering the present global challenges such as the Ukraine crisis and economic slump created due to Covid-19, Quad is working to achieve multi-dimensional objectives. Considering the political, economic, and social challenges at the global level, and the challenge posed by China in the Indo-pacific region, the recent QUAD summit organized in Japan holds a significant value.
Although Quad is considered by many experts as a military alliance to check the expansionist feet of China in the Indo-pacific region and promote peace, prosperity, and stability of the region, the alliance among the four nations, India, the US, Japan, and Australia, should be considered from the anall-inclusive point of view. It is not only about endorsing the strategic and defence measures among the four countries, it is also about enhancing the economic relations, promoting infrastructural development and boosting people-to-people connect in the region. Time and again, the leaders of the member countries of the Quad have tried to make it clear that the Quad should not be seen as an alliance with defence agenda only. Indian Minister of External Affairs, Jaishankar has also explicitly told that Quad has comprehensive objectives in the domains of economic cooperation, cultural exchanges and developing infrastructure especially to face epidemics like Covid 19.
It was clearly visible in the recent Quad summit which was held in Japan on May 24, 2022. It was indeed a welcoming effort to see the diversified array of topics ranging from economic to political to strategic to cultural and more, were discussed during the summit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi appropriately mentioned in his speech during the summit how Quad has gained important impetus and place in global affairs in the past few years. The four leaders of the member countries of Quad laid a special emphasis on developing compatible and sustainable practices in the region. However, it was also a noteworthy development that the focus of the summit was on encouraging holistic economic development in the region. The announcement of Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) during the summit is a clear signal of reinforcing efforts to endorse sustainable and collaborative economic development in the region. The leaders of all member countries discussed various means and ways to come up with better infrastructure, developing a resilient supply chain, producing more vaccines and preparing well for diseases like Covid-19. The member countries agreed to invest 50 billion USD to make the infrastructure better in the region in the next five years. This indeed is also an effort to check the debt diplomacy of China through which it has already negatively impacted economies of countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Another significant area was strategic where the member countries recapped their pledge to keep the Indo-pacific region free from the influence of China, or for that matter any one country. Although no leader of the member country of the Quad explicitly spoke about China and its belligerent actions in the region, but it was pretty clear from the new initiatives and the actions taken during the summit that China still remains in the focus of Quad. Basically, it has to be understood that whatever is happening in Ukraine today, has increased the probability of China acting as an aggressor in the Indo-pacific region. It has been also recorded multiple times that China has been showing its aggression over Taiwan since the Russia-Ukraine war started. It is also intensifying its nuclear program, which is another matter of concern. That’s the reason, the Quad countries seem to be taking pre-emptive measures to ensure the region remains safe. The Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) is a noteworthy move declared during the summit to adopt a collective approach to develop technological and infrastructural capabilities in the region.
This initiative is aimed to transform the ability of Quad partners in the Pacific region, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region to holistically monitor the waters on their shores to ensure a free and stable region. Quad member countries also agreed for investment in IPMDA over five years. It was also agreed to develop and leverage innovative technologies for the same purpose. This indeed shows the commitment of QUAD members to work in the area of Science and Technology to ensure regional as well as global security through innovative and sustainable technology.
Cyber security also remained a critical objective for Quad summit. Looking at the larger picture, the member countries have committed to promoting joint projects in the domain of innovative technologies. Quad member countries discussed developing 5G technology through a new memorandum of cooperation on 5G supplier diversification. It is much needed for mobile network operators to ensure inter-operability. The leaders also launched the ‘Common Statement of Principles on Critical Technology Supply Chains’ to strengthen the cooperation and joint projects on semiconductors and other innovative technologies.
Discussing terrorism and working on developing effective counter-terrorism initiatives was another substantial outcome of the summit. India has been facing the brunt of terrorism since 1947, however, it was never acknowledged by the western world. But after the 9/11 attack on the US, things changed drastically. Today, not only India and the US, many other countries including Australia and Japan as well stand together in a global war against terror. Mumbai and Pathankot terror attacks were discussed explicitly at the Quad summit. Considering the role of China and Pakistan in promoting cross-border terrorism, Quad member countries have reconfirmed their commitment to jointly fight the war against terror. This seems to be a noteworthy step in achieving the objective of not only regional but also global peace and security.
As a gist, it can be written that the recent Quad summit shows a positive light in the areas of regional as well as global peace, security, sustainability, cooperative economic development, inclusivity, and keeping democratic values high.
The writer is a Professor at School of International Studies, JNU. The views expressed are personal.
It was clearly visible in the recent Quad summit which was held in Japan on May 24, 2022. Indeed, it was a welcoming effort to see the diversified array of topics— ranging from economic to political to strategic to cultural and more— were discussed during the summit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi appropriately mentioned in his speech during the summit how Quad has gained important impetus and place in global affairs over the past few years.