On 30 July 2021, Lisa Curtis and Surjit Bhalla, co-chairs of the Gateway House Quad Economy and Technology Task Force, spoke to CNBC-TV-18 on the various channels of cooperation between the Quad countries in technology, supply chains and undersea cables, and the need to counter China's dominance in the Indo-Pacific.
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Three senior U.S. officials visited Asia in July in a well-choreographed diplomatic outreach strategy by the Biden administration. The U.S is willing to prioritise the Indo-Pacific and counter China. Asia cannot afford to be a reticent bystander.
On 15 July, Gateway House co-hosted a webcast with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) on 'Countering China’s Maritime Grey Zone Activities'. The panel discussed the potential strategies that smaller nations in the region can adopt to overcome the challenges of Chinese maritime grey zone activities, and the role of regional maritime powers in capability-building of maritime law enforcement agencies.
For years, Western countries have used sanctions as a means of economic warfare against their adversaries. Now, China and Russia are utilising the same tactic against the West. The United Nations Security Council is paralysed by differences between the five permanent members, leaving the tools of unilateral sanctions and counter-sanctions to proliferate at the cost of UN-approved multilateral sanctions.
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.
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?