- India joined Australia, Japan and the United States to discuss the future of Asia-Pacific region as an inclusive space.
- Senior officials of the four countries held the discussion in Singapore.
About the discussion
- The meeting was held between officials from the foreign ministries of India, Australia, Japan and the United States on the sidelines of ASEAN-focused Senior Officials’ Meeting.
- This meeting marks continuity of the similar discussion among the four countries that was held in Manila in October 2017.
- The participants reaffirmed their support for a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific Region. They also confirmed their common commitment, based on shared values and principles, to promote a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.
- The statement indicates the discomfort of the various stakeholders with China’s bid to alter the status quo in the South China Sea, that is interpreted as a hurdle to freedom of maritime and air movements.
- The participants expressed support for the ASEAN-related mechanism to help stabilise the Asia-Pacific region.
- They agreed to partner with all countries and institutions in the region to promote the shared vision of a peaceful, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific, including through such plurilateral formats.
- The participants considered ways to pursue shared objectives in the areas of connectivity and development, regional security, including counter-terrorism and non-proliferation, high availability disaster recovery (HADR) and maritime cooperation.
About the Quad
- The history of quad is linked to Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004.
- When within few hours, India’s naval helicopters and ships came into action and India provided huge humanitarian relief to not only Sri Lanka but also Indonesia. These capabilities surprised the world.
- In December that year, the US President George Bush announced that India, US, Japan and Australia would launch a coalition to collaborate the massive relief and rehabilitation works. This led to birth of the “Quadrilateral” or Quad.
- Quad as a strategic dialogue was first mooted by Prime Minister Shinjo Abe of Japan in 2007 but it could not take a further move because of China’s objection.
- The shared objective of the Quad group is the areas of connectivity and development, regional security, including counter-terrorism and non-proliferation, high availability disaster recovery (HADR) and maritime cooperation.
- However, in a significant geostrategic move India, the US, Japan and Australia resurrected their quadrilateral grouping on the sidelines of the Asean summit in Manila in 2017.
- Now, India joined the discussion of the quad group.
- The first meeting of officials from the four countries took place against the backdrop of an increasingly assertive China that has not only made Southeast Asian nations wary but also raised concerns regarding freedom of trade and navigation through the waters of the South and East China seas.
- Add to this China’s aggressive posturing along land borders with countries like India and Bhutan.
- It’s welcome then that the ‘quad’ has endorsed a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region that isn’t monopolised by a single country.
Benefits of Quad group to India
- Firstly, it is seen as a platform for the promotion of India’s ‘Act East’ policy, which is the cornerstone of India’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. India has been working with ASEAN for the creation of regional security architecture in the Indo-Pacific region and the focus areas of quad grouping also support the regional security architecture. This will ensure deeper engagement of India with East Asian countries.
- Secondly, India will be able to provide more help and assistance to East Asian countries by making efforts towards resolving issues like South China Sea dispute and North Korean issue, through the quad, this in turn will help India emerge as a regional leader and power.
- Thirdly, the primary value-add of the reconvened quadrilateral is its potential as a countervailing force to Beijing’s Belt and Road push.
- Also, the vision of a peaceful maritime zone can ensure the economic gain through peaceful trade and allay the fear of China’s ‘string of pearls’ in India.
- This will help India to contain china.