The Chinese Communist Party has been at the forefront of the expansionist policy of its country. It has been a hallmark of the regime to interfere and to cross the borders of its neighbors. Be it India in 2020 when it invaded Ladakh in the eastern part or eliminating the autonomy of Hong Kong to incorporate it into its territory. China has been posing a threat to all its neighbors and to maintain its hegemony in the Indo -Pacific region. To counter this Chinese expansionist policy four countries the US, India, Japan, and Australia came together in 2007 to form a partnership to counter Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region and it was named QUAD ( Quadrilateral Security Dialogue). This idea for this partnership was started by the Japanese Prime Minister Shino Abe during his first term. This intergovernmental cooperation was initially limited to only defense but later economic and political interests were also taken in. But during the same year China put extensive pressure on Australia to back off from the group to maintain its dominant position in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia heavily relies on China for its exports as 50% of all Australian coal is exported to China and China threatened the Australian government to stop importing coal from it if in case it joined the Quad that resulted in the collapse of it.
Then in 2017 with Donald Trump in the oval office and his anti China rhetoric he wanted an alliance to counter Chinese aggression especially in Taiwan and the South China Sea so in 2017 the Quad was re-established after 10 years of intermission. In 2017 joint secretaries from all four nations met and laid down the foundation for further advancement.
As Quad was formed in 2017 China labeled it as the Asian NATO that threatens its national interest. Due to continuing tensions between China and the United States, state secretary Mike Pompeii slammed China for threading its neighbors especially in Taiwan and India. When Quad was formed all four countries had their informal strategic interest and there was not a collective idea of what it would be used for, but for China it was very clear from the very beginning that Quad meant a very powerful and robust army surrounding its borders. As all the four members of Quad can be considered functioning democracies they adopted a collective policy that will be implemented in the Indo-Pacific region. It would include freedom of navigation, peace, and security in this region.
The first major highlight of this Quad was in 2021 when its first summit was announced and all four members with few other steps took part in various naval exercises. But the formation of the quad was very essential from the perspective of Donald Trump as he considered China as a major threat to the US and for months the trade between the two nations reached all new heights with import tariffs reaching extreme limits. All four heads of the states also took part in the virtual summit before the foreign ministers met.
During the first summit, all four heads of the state emphasized securing free and open access to the Indo pacific region. China has been on an expansionist mission and has been capturing island after island in the Pacific Ocean and has continued its efforts to change the borders with its neighboring countries. The US saw China as a threat to its hegemony and along with India and Japan have been trying to contain the influence of the Chinese regime.
With the coronavirus pandemic around the important task for all nations was to manufacture the vaccines and to supply them to the necessary regions where the virus had been affected the most. During the initial meetings, the government of all four nations held talks on various issues but the corona crisis was at the forefront and how to contain Chinese expansionism.
The second major issue in front of all the quad members is that China is the largest manufacturer in the world along with it also supplies 60-70% of all global rare earth metals and has complete control over the supply chain. This over-reliance on China and its monopoly poses a threat to the US and its allies. Many countries have been giving subsidies to companies to move out from China.
The first military exercise is one of the main military exercises between the US, Japan, and India, and in the recent edition, Australia and Singapore also joined. This naval exercise in recent times has been a tough answer to the Chinese navy that has been proving quite threatening in the Indo-Pacific region.
As the coronavirus continues to be a major threat for all nations across the globe the summit of 2021 was focused on it. All the participating nations wanted a quick and prompt action that included an expansive vaccine program that will be primarily in the US and manufacturers in India. Australian Prime Minister had frequently accused China of mismanagement in handling the covid crisis and accused the CCP of hiding many details about the virus. Australia was one of the few nations that petitioned the WHO for an independent investigation in the Corona pandemic. This resulted in bitter relations between the two nations and both nations have been on the tough driver since the beginning of the pandemic.
The third most important sector for quad nations is climate change and it was also a major issue that all countries took during the recent summit. As we know during the trump regime the US had pulled out of the Paris climate accord citing that countries like China and India are not getting regulated in the same way as the US is but with Biden coming to the oval office climate change has again become an important issue for Quad nations.
The prime minister of Australia has said that democratic and sovereign nations are being threatened and intimidated by foreign interference in the form of cyberattacks and economic coercion by state actors. He was targeting China without directly taking its name and also highlighted the importance of its relations with India and referred to India as its “Natural Partner”.
Australia and Japan will play a very critical role in containing any further Chinese incursion in the Indo-Pacific region and with the US sending its warships close to the Chinese coastline it will mark an important event in deciding the future of the region.
In 2020 quad was formally formed and in June 2020 India invited Australia to join as the situation between the Chinese and Australian governments was worsening. With the first naval exercise this year the challenges ahead of Quad will be to safeguard the critical sea route in the Indo-Pacific region from Chinese influence but the Chinese communist party would likely look towards its allies to contain the quad and to extend its influence as far as possible. With the US back in the global politics that took a hit during Trump’s era, Biden will try to maintain the lead of the US in deciding the future of geopolitics of Asia.