First Quad summit held on 12 March 2021 and was attended by all four members virtually. The four leaders, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison came together to discuss various collaborated areas and exchanged their views and opinions regarding the same including free and open Indo-pacific region, climate change, Covid 19 and maritime security.
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is a strategic dialogue initiated in 2007. The informal dialogue has four countries as the members, India, US, Japan and Australia. The dialogue was followed military alliance between these four countries as joint military exercise. But widely, the actions were viewed as China becoming strong economically and in terms of military capabilities.
As per the information, by now four of the countries have organized some military activities together including naval exercise in 2007, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief during the 2005 Indian ocean tsunami and several public appearances by military leaders.
Recently Retd Lt Col Manoj K Channan, who had served in Indian army for a long time took his time out to comment and discuss briefly about first Quad Summit and its highlights. He said, “The main focus was on pressing crises, such as Covid-19, climate change and emerging technologies. Quad pledged to promote a free, open rules-based order, rooted in international law to advance security and prosperity and counter threats to both in the Indo-pacific and beyond.“ The highlights were Quad vaccine partnership where all have them agreed to ensure equitable access to vaccines to counter the pandemic. Japan, USA and Australia will finance the vaccine initiative that India has welcomed.
Apart from this, the quad discussed on China – LAC, issues related to Honk Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan strait and coercion of Australia, harassment around the Senkaku. Concern regarding Chinese cyberattacks on the USA targets (Microsoft Exchange and Solar winds) and also cybersecurity incidents in India, Japan and Australia were discussed. India’s stand on Quad summit is that, it is united by its democratic values and will remain an important pillar of stability in the Indo-pacific region and called the summit an extension of the ancient Indian philosophy “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam“ which regards the world as one family, shared Lt Col Manoj (Retd).
“China’s apprehension from Quad is that it believes, exchanges and cooperation between countries should contribute to mutual understanding rather than targeting a third party and refrain from pursuing exclusive blocs. According to China, Quad should uphold the principle of openness, inclusiveness and win-win results and do things that are conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity“, said Lt Col Manoj (Retd).
China calling Quad as ‘selective multilateralism’ is quite evident and expected. Lt Col Manoj (Retd) responded on this comment and said, “Quad is the response to China’s belligerence across the globe through its actions within China against the Muslim community, its actions against its citizens in Hong Kong, South China Sea, Taiwan Straits, Senkaku Islands of Japan and the Indo-Pacific region as a whole. The Chinese are monitoring these very closely as this to contain China’s contest to become the exclusive super power economically as well as militarily challenging the US“. According to the information provided by Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd), a meeting between the top diplomats of the USA and China is set to be held in Alaska later in March 2021.
While quad is expected to be a military alliance as well, but the recent meeting did not discuss much on military cooperation. According to Lt Col (Retd), “But the joint naval exercises in the Indo-Pacific region are a step in the direction of military cooperation. It will take some time for the Nations to be able to work seamlessly akin to a NATO alliance, due to different equipment, SOPs, communications and commonality of logistics.“
On asking, has quad hinted any expansion for other countries who are enthusiastic to join or is still planning to stick with four members in near future, to which he said in response, “There are indications that UK and Germany amongst other nations may join Quad in the near future to ensure a rules-based world to negate any conflict.“
Being a member of Quad and its significance, India has several concerns that could be look into internationally with the help of Quad. “India has a major role to play in the South East Asian region. China views this s a direct competition to seek center stage. The bullying attitude of China with smaller countries of the region using both its economic and military muscle power. India provides a platform to stop the spread of the Chinese hegemony. As a developing nation, its important for India to be part of Quad to contain the Chinese ambitions in containing India by developing bases in the neighborhood, Gwadar in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and now Myanmar. Fortunately, China has fallen out with Bangladesh which is a reprieve of sorts for the Indian government“, said Lt Col (Retd). Quad has strengthened the relationships between the countries and is a platform in the making for mutual benefits across all domains and sectors.
India has been also appreciated worldwide for being the only country that sent COVID vaccines to the maximum number of countries and is still carrying on with the process. “Yes, India’s COVID vaccine diplomacy has added to its soft power reach in Africa, Brazil, and SAARC region, irrespective of the past diplomatic relationship status. This has definitely irked China as the Chinese vaccine is available at a cost and India has provided this free of cost“, said Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd).
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