The Quad countries are preparing for an autumn summit in Washington, which will provide an opportunity to discuss multilateral cooperation in various sectors. Four dimensions which merit closer attention and are crucial to the group's future are the Indo-Pacific strategies of European countries and the EU, partnerships with ASEAN and its members, closer India-U.S. ties and maritime security issues in the Pacific.
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As China’s global competitive edge is sharpening across the military, economic, diplomatic, and technological domains, it is clear that the extent to which the Quad countries (Australia, India, Japan, and the United States) can collaborate across all four domains will be an important factor in determining whether China’s hegemonic designs on the Indo-Pacific will succeed.
China has been steadily increasing its influence within the United Nations using a combination of increased funding, strategically placing its key officials and selecting the most influential agencies and bodies to lead. The clusters of agencies headed by China are directly and indirectly linked to its domestic agendas like the Belt and Road Initiative, Make in China 2025 and the rise of Chinese companies. The world is just starting to take notice - and so must India.
This India-EU summit was different from the ones past, and India is a significant gainer. A trade agreement and connectivity partnership aside, the EU has stepped up to help India during this emergency, viewing it not as a weak state but as a partner in distress. The geopolitical indicators for an enhanced engagement are now also in place.
With the space sector being divided into astro-political blocs, India can't afford to stay non-aligned. A recent treaty between China and Russia makes it plain for India that leaving space exploration to a few science aficionados can be dangerous. India needs a national space exploration strategy with tangible economic and meta-strategic goals in sight.
The EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy comes better late than never. But it has to step gingerly. It cannot antagonize China, wants to build on the legacy of its members’ colonial past, give the region the infrastructure it needs, and make the trade agreements that it wants. Is it achievable?
The Task Force led by Gateway House will study economic and technological cooperation between the four like-minded democracies in the Indo-Pacific.
In its recent itineration, the Quad (or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) has been toiling since 2017, through deliberations among mid-level and senior officials, to develop a common vision for the challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region, challenges caused by China's menacing rise and aggressive behaviour.
The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) presents a unique opportunity to develop a Blue Economy, with security, sustainability and business profitability as its three pillars. An IOR Defence Ministers' Conclave held on 4 February provided a platform to discuss regional cooperation, linking development with defence, and emphasized India's pivotal position within the IOR.
As President Joe Biden completes his first month in office, his foreign policy on China and the Indo-Pacific will come under scrutiny. The choices made will be significant as they will define the future prospects of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. Given China’s long-term and comprehensive challenges, which encompass both, security and economy-technology, the Quad will have to respond with a matching strategy.