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October 09, 2020

Why in news?

The second meeting of the Quadrilateral Strategic Dialogue of Foreign Ministers was held in Tokyo.

What is the Quad?

  • The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or the ‘Quad’ is an informal setup of Australia-India-Japan-United States.
  • It aims to strengthen the defence and security cooperation amongst the four countries.
  • The idea was originally conceived in 2007 by the former Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe.
  • It was proposed to check China’s growing influence and assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

What is the departure?

  • The meeting was planned when the Foreign Ministers (FMs) had met at the UN General Assembly.
  • In a departure from the earlier secrecy, the FMs made public a large part of their deliberations.
  • The deliberations include the decision to make the FM meeting an annual event, to cooperate on combating the pandemic, and on building infrastructure, connectivity and a supply chain initiative in the region.

Who were the attendees?

  • As the host, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga dispelled any notion that he might not be as proactive as his predecessor, Shinzō Abe.
  • Australia’s FM Marise Payne, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended the meeting.

What did the US say?

  • In the meeting, Pompeo said that his mission was to direct the Quad towards building a coalition to counter Beijing’s aggression in the region.
  • This pointed out to the LAC standoff, as well as Chinese aggression in the South and East China Seas.
  • His proposal did not only seem to be just a coalition of democracies committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
  • But also seems like the US is keen on turning the Quad into a full-fledged military alliance of countries facing tensions with China.

What should be done?

  • Strategic autonomy - The government should not downplay the import of such openly stated intentions.
  • While Japan and Australia are bound by alliance treaties to the U.S., New Delhi has thus far charted its course on strategic autonomy.
  • Mr. Pompeo’s words point to an interest in bringing India into bilateral tensions in the Indo-Pacific.
  • He also invited the Quad to take a role in India-China tensions as well.
  • The Modi government has rejected such suggestions, and any shift would be unwise now.
  • Impression - India has much to gain strategically and in terms of capacity building from the Quadrilateral dialogue.
  • But little should be gained from the impression that it is being led by the US on an important initiative for the region in which India is an important stake-holder.

 

Source: The Hindu

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