The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) or QUAD Group is an informal strategic forum comprising India, Japan, Australia and the United States of America. It is a grouping frequently seen in the news nowadays because of the current geopolitical situation in the world. Hence, it is an important topic for the UPSC exam.
QUAD Group 2021 – Latest Context
The Prime Minister addressed the first summit of the leaders of the QUAD (Quadrilateral Framework). The meeting was hosted by the USA on a virtual platform.
- Earlier in February 2021, QUAD ministerial meeting discussed issues across Indo-Pacific and the military takeover in Myanmar.
- The focus was on pressing crises like Covid-19, climate change, and emerging technologies.
- Important Highlights of the first summit of the leaders of the QUAD-
- Quad Vaccine Partnership:
- Agreed to ensure “equitable” access to vaccines to counter the pandemic.
- Agreed to a plan to pool their financial resources, manufacturing capabilities and logistical strengths.
- Japan, the USA and Australia will finance the vaccine initiative that India has welcomed.
- Appreciated the Vaccine Maitri initiative (India’s Vaccine Diplomacy) of India. Vaccine Maitri Initiative is an initiative launched by India to give Covid-19 vaccines to neighbouring countries.
- Discussion on China – Concerns regarding Chinese cyberattacks on the USA targets (Microsoft Exchange and SolarWinds) and also cybersecurity incidents in India, Japan and Australia were discussed. The Line of Actual Control (LAC) was discussed as one of several examples of Chinese aggression. Other issues related to Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan Strait and coercion of Australia, harassment around the Senkaku, were also discussed.
- Quad Vaccine Partnership:
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QUAD Group – Basic Facts
The QUAD Group is an informal strategic dialogue with four members, namely, India, Japan, Australia and the US. The shared objective is to ensure and sustain an open, free and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
- The QUAD Group is maintained by semi-regular summits, meetings, information exchanges and military drills of all the members.
- It is seen as a coalition of maritime democracies.
- The idea for the QUAD Group is attributed to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who mooted it in 2007. However, its origins can be traced back to the 2004 Tsunami when India conducted relief and rescue operations for itself and neighbouring countries and was joined by Japan, the US and Australia.
- The move was paralleled by the joint military exercise ‘Malabar’ which was held at an unprecedented scale involving India, Japan, Australia, Singapore and the US.
- China issued formal diplomatic protests to the members of the QUAD.
- Then, Australia backed out from the QUAD presumably due to pressure from the Chinese.
- Again in 2012, Abe brought forth the idea of Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond” comprising Japan, India, the US and Australia to protect the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean to the Western Pacific.
- It was in 2017, however, that the first official talks under the QUAD took place, in Manila, the Philippines.
QUAD Group Guiding Principles
The idea behind the QUAD Group is to keep the strategic and significant sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence (read Chinese influence).
- It is seen as a strategic grouping to preempt and reduce Chinese influences.
- The core objectives of the QUAD is to secure a rules-based global order, liberal trading system and freedom of navigation.
- It seeks to contain a ‘rising China’ and work against its predatory trade and economic policies.
- Another purpose of the QUAD is to offer alternative debt financing for nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
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QUAD Group Significance
Analysts point out that viewing the QUAD solely as a bureaucratic-level foreign-ministry-led dialogue that meets occasionally might not be correct given the growing military engagements and the matrix of trilateral and bilateral relationships among the members of the QUAD Group.
- It is believed that if Chinese aggressions increase on the borders, India can take the support of the other QUAD members to counter the Chinese.
- India can take advantage of its naval front (unlike the continental front where China and Pakistan surround the country) and conduct strategic explorations in the Indo-Pacific region.
There are some challenges also facing the QUAD Group. While the member countries have recently come together sensing an expansionist China, they themselves have different aspirations and interests. It would be interesting to see how these varied disparities play out and the countries narrow their differences. Also, considering the economic might of China, none of the QUAD countries can afford to really take a vivid anti-China stance.
The QUAD members will have to chart out a clearer vision for the grouping. A “free and open Indo-Pacific” should not merely be a slogan. The QUAD Group should work out a working regional consultation mechanism and also work more closely with the ASEAN.
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