Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) | UPSC Notes

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Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) | UPSC Notes

• The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is an informal strategic dialogue between India, the United States, Japan, and Australia. Its goal is to ensure and support a “free, open, and prosperous” Indo-Pacific area.

• Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, came up with the idea of Quad in 2007. But the idea couldn’t go forward because Australia pulled out of it, reportedly because of pressure from China.

• Shinzo Abe brought up the idea of Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond” again in December 2012. This is a plan for Australia, India, Japan, and the US to work together to protect the seas from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.

• In November 2017, India, the US, Australia, and Japan formed the long-awaited “Quad” Coalition to create a new plan to keep the important sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any impact, especially from China.

Four Countries and China

• USA: The USA had a plan to stop China from having more power in East Asia. Because of this, the US sees the coalition as a chance to regain its power in the Indo-Pacific area.

In its National Security Strategy, National Defence Strategy, and Pentagon report on Indo-Pacific Strategy, the US called China and Russia geopolitical rivals.

• Australia: Australia is worried that China is becoming more interested in its land, infrastructure, politics, and colleges.

Australia has kept its pledge to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China. This is because the country’s economy is so dependent on China.

• Japan: Over the past ten years, Japan has been worried about China’s border violations in the area.

 Japan’s economy is still very dependent on trade with China. Since the beginning of 2017, net exports have added exactly one-third of Japan’s economic growth.

o Because of how important it is, Japan is trying to find a balance between its economic needs and territory worries with China.

Japan has also agreed to take part in the Belt and Road Initiative by helping to build infrastructure in other countries. So, Japan can lessen China’s impact in those countries while also getting along better with China.

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• India: In recent years, China’s breaking of international rules, especially by building military facilities on reclaimed islands in the South China Sea, and its growing military and economic power pose a strategic threat to India.

Due to China’s strategic importance, India is careful to strike a balance between China on the one hand and the US on the other. It does this by staying committed to China’s strategic autonomy, which has usually made China feel better.

Opportunities for India under Quad Arrangement

• Countering China: The sea space is much more important to China than trying to grab land in the Himalayas when it suits them.

o A big part of China’s trade goes through marine chokepoints along the Indian Ocean routes.

o If China did something bad on the border, India could stop Chinese trade by working with the other countries in the Quad.

o Because China and Pakistan are working together, India seems to be in a “nutcracker situation” in the continental sphere. However, in the maritime sphere, India has a lot of room to build coalitions, set rules, and do other types of strategic study.

• Becoming a Net Security Provider: Large countries are becoming more interested in the marine world, especially since the idea of the “Indo-Pacific” came to be. For example, a lot of European countries have just announced their plans for the Indo-Pacific region.

With India, which is right in the middle of the Indo-Pacific region, geopolitical imagination can achieve the dream of a “broader Asia” that can have an impact beyond its physical borders.

India can also build on collective action in areas like humanitarian aid and crisis relief, monitoring shipping for search-and-rescue or anti-piracy operations, helping states that are vulnerable to climate change with infrastructure, connectivity projects, and other similar activities.

Also, India and the other countries in the Quad can stop China from being an aggressor in the Indian Ocean region and make sure that everyone in the region has security and growth.

• Multipolar World: India has backed a multipolar world with rules, and QUAD can help it become a regional giant, which is what it wants to be.

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• Post-COVID Diplomacy: The pandemic has caused problems with supply chains all over the world, which could make the world too dependent on China for Global Value systems. In this case, India should use its diplomatic skills with the QUAD group to set up a base for its manufacturing knowledge.

Also, Japan and the US want to move their production companies out of China to stop China from acting like an imperialist, which India could also take advantage of.


• China’s Claims to Land: China says that it has always owned almost all of the South China Sea, which gives it the right to build islands there. But in 2016, the claim was turned down by the International Court of Arbitration.

• China’s Close Relationship with ASEAN: China also has close ties with the ASEAN countries. The Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a recent example of China’s growing influence over ASEAN countries.

• China’s economic power: Because countries in the Quad like Japan and Australia rely on China for their economies, they can’t afford to have bad relations with China.

• Convergence among Quad Nations: The countries in the Quad group have different goals and try to find a balance between their own needs and those of the group as a whole. So, there is no unity in the way Quad country is seen as a group.

Issues Related to Quad

• Undefined Vision: The Quad is a group that could work together, but it still doesn’t have a clear strategic goal.

• Doesn’t have a clear structure: Even though the QUAD has big goals, it isn’t set up like a normal multilateral organisation. It doesn’t have a secretariat or a permanent body that makes decisions. Instead of making policies like the European Union or the United Nations, the Quad has focused on expanding existing agreements between member countries and highlighting their shared values. Also, unlike NATO, the Quad does not have provisions for collective defence. Instead, it uses joint military exercises to show unity and diplomatic cohesion.

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• The focus on the Indo-Pacific makes the Quad a maritime group instead of a land-based one. This makes it unclear if the cooperation includes the Asia-Pacific and Eurasian areas.

• India’s dislike of the alliance system: The fact that India is the only member that doesn’t like the idea of a treaty alliance system has made it harder to build a better relationship between the four countries.

• Actions don’t make sense. The U.S. government’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan, which could lead to the growth of terror networks in that troubled country, could weaken the Quad’s joint commitment to fighting terrorism and raise questions about whether the U.S. is willing to put resources back into the difficult job of dismantling terror networks.

Way Forward

• The Quad will need a better idea of what it wants to be. It’s important that people in the Quad don’t respond. It is also important to be open and make sure that the phrase “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” isn’t just a motto.

• The four countries in the Quad need to explain the Indo-Pacific Vision in a more comprehensive way. The goal is to improve everyone’s economic and security interests.

• India already has a lot of friends in the Indo-Pacific, so it should try to get Indonesia and Singapore to join in the future.

• India should make a broad plan for the Indo-Pacific that takes into account current and future maritime problems, brings together its military and non-military tools, and works with its strategic partners.