China has established a dominant presence in the Indo-Pacific through exploitative economic engagements. This has destabilised smaller nations in the region and made them dependent on Chinese support. For a free and open Indo-Pacific, India must press its advantage in human and economic capacity building.
The Quad Foreign Ministers' meeting held on February 11 is the latest example of growing geopolitical cooperation. Several loci of power have emerged, indicating the end of the post-Cold War western hegemony. China's rise and alliance with Russia hints at a bipolar tendency in this nascent global multipolarity. India must ensure power distribution in Asia by sharpening its diplomacy to achieve its own interest - true multipolarity in Asia.
Nine great powers and a number of important multilaterals have vested interests in the Indo-Pacific. Given the U.S.-China standoff in the region, the role of new groupings like the Quad and AUKUS is significant. The time is ripe for India to use its position in the region, and convert its humanitarian duties into economic and strategic opportunities in 2022.
The news of the EU's much-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy was overshadowed by the Australia-UK-U.S. military alliance, AUKUS. Eight weeks later, tempers are cooling off as the U.S and EU signed agreements at COP26. So, are transatlantic good times back on track? Has AUKUS put a permanent spanner in the wheel of the EU’s Indo-Pacific outreach?
The EU's Indo-Pacific strategy, released in September, set the tone for a renewed focus on the region. Europe's Asia connect is rich, strong and multi-layered, laying the foundation for an advantageous position for the EU in the Indo-Pacific. This can be achieved if the EU is more candid with itself, more assertive with China, and more cooperative with India.
The first in-person Quad Leader's Summit drew global attention for its symbolism and substance. A critical analysis of its outcome shows that the institutionalisation of the organisation has begun. India has a chance to work with the advanced economies, on an equal footing and with much to contribute.
On September 24, the Quad leaders will attend the first in-person summit of the grouping in Washington DC. There is much to discuss for the four leaders, given recent developments: the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) security partnership and the EU's new Indo-Pacific strategy. The Quad also needs to focus on long term goals like institutionalising itself and devising a strategy to counter the China challenge.