The Quad, short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, was formed in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but the alliance didn’t take off until it reconvened in November 2017. That kicked off a series of regular meetings focused on everything, from ensuring the development of quality infrastructure to improving collective maritime safety in the Indo-Pacific.
The Biden Administration brought together Quad leaders for the first time on Friday in a remarkable demonstration that it will not only build on the momentum the alliance has gained over the past three years, but also make it the centerpiece of the Indus strategy. -U.S. Pacific.
Holding a Quad meeting at the leadership level once seemed unfathomable, given protests from China that the alliance would focus on containing the rising superpower. The Covid-19 pandemic, combined with China’s aggressive behavior in recent years, highlighted the need for powerful democracies to work together to protect the health of their populations and the prosperity of their economies alongside the rules-based order that has ruled India. Pacific and beyond for the past decades.
China’s recent clashes with India and Australia have reinforced the benefits of the Quad. As of early May 2020, it was apparent that China had taken up military positions in several different locations along its disputed border with India. Two skirmishes broke out between Indian and Chinese forces, and on June 15 a major clash between troops in the Galwan River Valley resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese forces. After years of simmering tensions between Australia and China, Australia’s call for an investigation into the origins of Covid-19 led China to suspend imports from four of Australia’s largest meat processors and impose import tariffs. to Australian barley. A stronger Quad could have deterred China from such hostile military and economic behavior.
Focus on recovering from a pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the dangers of relying solely on Chinese manufacturing for critical supplies like medical equipment. As a result, the Quad countries have considered how they could work together to build alternative global supply chains that bypass China. Australia, Japan and India announced the Trilateral Supply Chain Resilience Initiative last fall. Identifying alternative supply chains for critical pharmaceuticals and minerals has also been a topic of discussion for the Quad.
One of the main initiatives of Friday’s meeting is a plan for the United States, Japan and Australia to invest in India’s ability to make more Covid-19 vaccines. India already manufactures 60% of all vaccines sold worldwide and the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has the capacity to produce 2.4 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine per day. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech has developed its own homegrown Covid-19 vaccine that India approved for emergency use this year.
While the Quad provides a good forum for coordinating policies related to health security and post-pandemic economic recovery, maritime security in the Indo-Pacific is perhaps the most pressing issue facing the four Quad countries.
The four countries want to ensure that the Indo-Pacific sea lanes remain open for unhindered trade and deter provocative Chinese naval activity in the South and East China Seas. To maintain this freedom of navigation and avoid maritime intrusions and intimidation, the Quad countries must pool their resources and expand the exchange of information and data to improve maritime surveillance. Australia participated in last fall’s annual Malabar Indian naval exercise, which also included the United States and Japan, for the first time in 13 years, marking a major step forward in maritime security cooperation in all four countries.
The Quad does not have to remain an exclusive grouping. It is valuable to bring South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and others into Quad’s discussions, topic by topic. Last spring, former Under Secretary of State Stephen Biegun held several biweekly meetings on Covid-19, attended by officials from Quad countries along with South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand.
The Biden Administration is right to strengthen the Quad as a way to help meet the challenges associated with a rising China and bolster its own ability to compete effectively when it comes to economic growth, diplomatic influence, or military might. This multilateral cooperation is also necessary to meet challenges to regional health, prosperity, peace and stability as China advances its military and technological capabilities. Countries interested in protecting the free and open Indo-Pacific order must act collectively, synchronizing their individual efforts and pooling resources to maintain peace and stability in the region.