The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), sometimes known as the Quad, is an informal strategic conference comprised of four countries: the United States of America (USA), India, Australia, and Japan. One of the Quad's key goals is to promote a free, open, prosperous, and inclusive Indo-Pacific area.
The group met for the first time in 2007 on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is seen as an alliance of marine democracies, with all member countries participating in meetings, semi-annual summits, information exchanges, and military drills.
The motive behind the Quad is to keep the strategic sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any military or political influence. It is viewed primarily as a strategic alliance aimed at reducing Chinese dominance. The Quad's primary purpose is to maintain a rules-based global order, maritime freedom, and a liberal trading system. Additionally, the coalition intends to provide alternative debt financing to countries in the Indo-Pacific area.
The Quad leaders discuss current global concerns such as critical and emerging technologies, connectivity and infrastructure, cyber security, maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, climate change, pandemic preparedness, and education.
Our four nations met for the first time after the 2004 Tsunami to help the Indo-Pacific region. Today, when the world is fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, we have come here once again as Quad for the welfare of humanity," PM Modi said in his opening remarks alongside US President Biden, Japan PM Suga and Australia's PM Morrison.
In a way, our Quad will work as a 'force for global good'. I believe that our cooperation in Quad will ensure peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific as well as the entire world," PM Modi added.
China and Quad
China initially opposed the Quad's creation, and Beijing's position has remained unchanged in the 13 years thereafter. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the Quad as a "headline-grabbing notion" in 2018, and following the release of the joint statement earlier this year, the Chinese foreign ministry accused the organisation of blatantly promoting unrest among Asia's regional powers. Beijing sees the existence of the Quad as part of a larger strategy to encircle China and has pressured countries like Bangladesh to avoid cooperating with the group.
Each member of the Quad is threatened by China's operations in the South China Sea and efforts to expand its sphere of influence through initiatives such as the One Belt One Road Project. The US has long expressed alarm about China's global competition, and successive US presidents have asserted that China's goal is to undermine the international rules-based order. Japan and Australia are also alarmed by China's growing presence in the South and East China Seas. As the only Quad member with a land border with China, India is understandably apprehensive of Beijing but equally hesitant of escalating hostilities.
Although the Quad is often seen as anti-China, neither the joint statement nor the Washington Post op-ed makes any clear mention to China or military security. This has led some experts to anticipate that the Quad will avoid addressing China's military danger in favour of focusing on its economic and technological dominance. The Quad's decision to establish working groups on vaccine research and essential technologies can be interpreted as an attempt to restrain China, but more crucially, to construct a democratic, inclusive framework that will attract others.
India has to be a Net Security Provider in the Indian Ocean Region. India's supremacy in the IOR must be maintained and perpetuated in order for it to claim this status as a Regional leader. QUAD provides India with a platform to strengthen regional security through partnership, as well as to stress that its Indo-Pacific concept stands for a free, open, and inclusive area. In this context, inclusive means including all countries within the geographical idea as well as that outside of it that have a stake in it.