New Delhi: Ever since the nondescript Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) was rejuvenated again in 2017, a significant progress is visible leading to the first physical meeting of its leaders along the 76th United Nations General Assembly in United States. For a group which took birth after the 2004 tsunami is meeting in the backdrop of Afghanistan conflict and the shadows of AUKUS (A trilateral security coalition formed by United States, United Kingdom and Australia).Also Read - India To Procure 30 Crore Covid Vaccine Doses in November: Report
Although the QUAD countries have been carrying out military exercises and co-operating on various issues including trade, civil nuclear use, health and COVID diplomacy but it need to clearly specify its structure, goals as well as execution plans which are still not clear. Due to the increasing footprints of China in the South China Sea (SCS) and Asia Pacific, there is need of a strong politico-military alliance involving major powers of the region and the four countries of QUAD represent the same. Also Read - Taiwan to Ease Covid Restrictions From Nov 2
They are poised to limit the Chinese expansionary movements in Asia Pacific for peaceful co-existence of other countries. Assuming QUAD to be a direct threat, China has been quite vocal about it and protested on various forums. Since the first ever physical meet of its leaders is going to take place in White House followed with a strongly worded statement, serious heartburns would be caused in Beijing for sure. There are lot of expectations from this meet and the world would like to hear from the leaders like President Joe Biden and Prime Ministers Narendra Modi, Yoshihide Suga and Scott Morrison on various issues. Here are a few of them which may get included in the discussions. Also Read - EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2021: Azim Premji Tops; Check How Much He Donates Per Day
Chinese ambitions in South China Sea-
China has been expanding its footprints in South China sea and developing various island groups into Military bases. Its nine-dash line which is claiming nearly entire of the South China Sea as is not only threatening the territorial integrity of countries like Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, and Vietnam but also creating hurdles for other countries having trade routes passing through this area. It has created large military bases on various natural and artificial islands in SCS and a rebuttal to Chinese claims should come up in the joint statement.
Territorial disputes with other Asian Countries-
There is hardly any country in Asia-Pacific which does not have any territorial dispute with China. India is no exception where we have even fought a major war in the Himalayas and the memories of conflicts in Dokalam and Eastern
Ladakh are still afresh. These disputes are a prime concern for instability and conflicts in Asia. Further, China does not seem to be serious about resolving these issues. Till date, no global forum advocated the concern of other countries vis a vis China and a strong policy statement towards such territorial disputes is what the expectations of many South Asian countries.
Safety and security of shipping channels in Asia Pacific–
China has been expanding its military footprints at an alarming pace and so far, created major bases in Djibouti, Gwadar, Hambantota, and many other places apart from SCS. While Djibouti & Gwadar are overlooking Strategic Gulf of Aden and Persian Gulf respectively, Hambantota is right at the tip of Indian Ocean. These bases are directly threatening major shipping channels across Asia Pacific and the security of these channels is of utmost importance. QUAD must specify its policies and action plans to secure them.
Military co-operations between QUAD Countries-
Although the military co-operation between India, US, Australia, and Japan has started and these countries have carried out several joint exercises including Exercise Malabar in the past but there is a long way to go. To counter China, a strong military coalition is the need of the day. The QUAD leaders will have to work out its structure, functioning and inter-operability on the tunes of NATO. As QUAD is widely perceived as Asian-NATO, its modalities are not yet clear. To have an effective military coalition, various aspects need to be drafted and promulgated.
Involvement of other regional Powers in QUAD-
Peace in Asia Pacific is just not dependent upon four countries. Although, these four economies are the biggest and have significant stakes in Asia Pacific but without involvement of other powers especially ASEAN countries, it will be difficult to contain Chinese expansion. China has direct influence in these countries through trade or other aspects and the efforts of QUAD may get hampered if these countries are not involved. QUAD leaders will have to formulate a plan to include other countries which will not only help in success of QUAD but also help in better interoperability and mutual co-operation in the region. Recently formed AUKUS coalition is forming another layer overlapping over QUAD and is casting a shadow over the Indian and Japanese stakes in QUAD. Will UK be part of QUAD or AUKUS will remain as independent body are the questions which need answers.
For almost 20 months, the world has been suffering badly due to Chinese Virus and the two most affected countries are United States and India. With both countries being important constituents of QUAD, the world would like to hear about schemes of mutual co-operation and help for COVID relief which QUAD can provide to not only to its members but to other economies of Asia Pacific too. While three of the countries (US, Japan & Australia) are developed ones, India has the biggest Vaccine manufacturing capacity which can help the humanity. India’s vaccine diplomacy is also likely to figure out in the QUAD statement.
The Taiwan Imbroglio –
One of the most important aspect of Asia Pacific is the status of Taiwan or Republic of China. So far it is not even recognised as a country by international bodies and struggling for its very existence. Taiwan can play a vital role in stopping dragon which world must understand. It is a serious question as to how Taiwan can be part of QUAD or can help QUAD achieve its aim? China has been quite vocal about Republic of China (Taiwan) and QUAD leaders must anticipate its reactions too before making any announcement. Over 24 million population of Taiwan is ambitiously looking at QUAD with hopes as the territory is fighting for its survival.
All the four countries of QUAD have different views on China, while Australia sees China as its rival in trade and disputes between the two countries have so far been limited to trade, United States have been terming China as a threat to the world. Japan has both territorial as well as economic disputes with China, India has fought a major war and is engaged in both economic as well as military conflicts with Dragon. At a time when world is still recovering from a pandemic originated in China itself, all eyes are at the outcome of QUAD summit and the success of this quadrilateral coalition.