Few in the field of international relations knew, or remembered, the existence of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, despite the fact that the forum formed by the United States, India, Japan and Australia has existed since 2007, when it was created to crystallize the impulses cooperation agreements that emerged as a result of the 2004 tsunami. After years in suspense, and after an attempt by Donald Trump to revitalize it in 2017, the tripartite security pact announced a week ago by the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, called Aukus – a dam to contain Chinese expansionism in the Indo-Pacific – has brought the Quad out of oblivion.
In March it held a virtual meeting, but this Friday the Quad has established itself as a weighty regional platform with a face-to-face summit at the White House in which President Joe Biden and the Prime Ministers of India, Narendra Modi; Japan, Suga Yoshihide, and Australia, Scott Morrison. With the latter, Biden met this Monday in New York, on the occasion of the UN General Assembly; He has done so with the others this Friday at the White House, especially highlighting the bilateral relationship he has had with Modi, the first in person for both. The situation in Afghanistan, where Pakistan, the main ally of the Taliban, is gaining ground to the detriment of India, added importance to the meeting, described as “historic” by Modi. Also the interested movements of China in the Central Asian country, as a great beneficiary of the regime change in Kabul to promote its infrastructure and reconstruction projects.
Although the White House insists on describing the Quad as an informal group, and on equating it with other regional initiatives such as ASEAN – of which China is a part -, the nuclear submarine crisis has highlighted the strategic importance of this initiative. No one specifically mentions China – nor does the pact Aukus nor the Quad-, but the regime in Beijing is the recipient of most of the messages. Not in vain “an open and free, inclusive Indo-Pacific” is the Quad’s priority, almost its existential motto, as the four leaders reiterated this Friday, which is to say that their intention is to keep China’s undue incursions into control at bay. its waters.
The three countries summoned by Biden are antagonists of China in varying degrees, from the military threat it poses to Japan, to Australia’s last-minute diplomatic alignment, to the traditional distrust of the other Asian superpower, India, towards Beijing. According to a draft of the final communiqué of the meeting, to which the Japanese agency Kyodo News has had access, the participants had planned to warn against “any attempt to change the the status quo on [aguas de] the South China Sea and the East China Sea ”.
The final statement will likely use harsher language on the situation in areas where China is doubling down on its territorial claims, according to the version released by Kyodo News. Raids by Chinese patrol boats in the waters of the Senkaku Islands, controlled by Japan – the Diaoyu Islands in the name of Beijing, which claims sovereignty over them – have multiplied this year. There is also concern about a potential escalation in the Taiwan Strait.
The official and avowed objective of the Quad’s convocation – “an informal gathering of the main democracies in the Indo-Pacific,” according to senior White House officials – is to enhance cooperation on a wide range of issues, such as the deployment of the 5G network. -other the spy is clear with Beijing-, endowment of scholarships in prestigious universities in the USA, fisheries affairs, the supply of semiconductors, the fight against climate change or the joint contribution to global health. In March, the four members of the Quad announced their goal of donating 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022, while strengthening India’s productive capacity. The quadrilateral collaboration in the pandemic “is on the right track,” Biden stressed.
There are also several working groups in the field of cybersecurity. “It is not a regional security organization,” insisted on Thursday, in a telephone interview with journalists, a senior White House official. However, he acknowledged, “the Biden Administration understands that the challenges of the 21st century will largely unfold in the Indo-Pacific, and we are redoubling our efforts” to face the threat, according to the same source.
Since the Trump Administration, as belligerent towards China as Biden’s although both approach the confrontation in different ways, relaunched the Quad forum, the group has held several high-level meetings, and carried out increasingly important joint military exercises in the area, like the last ones, in 2020, in the Bay of Bengal, northwest of the Indian Ocean. The scenario where, according to Washington, global power will be resolved in the 21st century.
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