India’s “tHE Federal” website, March 14 article, original title: “Quad countries can bark, but can they “bite” China?” India, the United States, Japan and Australia had joined forces to help tsunami victims. Now the four countries are joining forces again to try to deal with another kind of tsunami – the steady rise of China as a superpower and the challenges it poses to the Asia-Pacific region. When the leaders of the four countries participated in the “Quadrilateral Security Dialogue” meeting on March 12, it seemed for the first time that there was a sense of urgency to ensure that this grouping is infused with more substantive content. The decision to jointly manufacture a new corona vaccine and develop 5G and other state-of-the-art technologies suggests that the four countries will work together to try to make a difference in a number of potentially non-political areas – areas that are also critical to countering Beijing.
Each of the four countries harbors grievances against China. India and China have border problems, Australia and China have seen a decline in relations, and Japan and China have a dispute over an island. And in a rare move, Biden has followed in his predecessor’s footsteps by taking the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue to a higher level of engagement. The reason is obvious: the United States sees China as a political and economic threat. Thus, the Quad is now at an interesting crossroads.
For the most part, various groupings of countries are not able to make much progress because of disputes between countries within the group, which affect their larger goals. It is worth recalling that the “Quad” was informally proposed after the 2004 tsunami. The cooperation of the navies of the four countries had helped thousands of victims in the Indian Ocean region.. “Three years later, Abe revived the grouping in response to growing pressure from China over disputed islands. But after a joint military exercise and a round of dialogue, the organization went dormant again until Trump activated it again in 2017 amid heightened U.S.-China tensions.
The Achilles’ heel, or inherent weakness of the four countries, is their respective bilateral relations with China. For example, Australia temporarily withdrew from the G-4 in 2008 to improve its bilateral relations with Beijing. India has also been cautious within the G-4, refraining from calling China an intruder on border issues and preferring to make general statements around the theme of peace and asking countries to play by internationally accepted rules.
As the old saying goes, “The proof of the pudding is in eating it. How the “Quad” behave will depend entirely on their responsiveness and the impact on any China-related issues that may soon arise. Posturing at such Summits may be important to send signals, but when it comes to the need to take real action, the posture is less important. At this point, it is difficult to say how effective the “quadrilateral” meeting will ultimately be.
(The original article on which the item is based can be seen here.)