Quad: The leaders’ summit of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, on Friday, the first since Joe Biden took office, reiterates the importance of the Indo-Pacific region.
The Quad, an informal strategic forum for the US, Australia, India and Japan, is a critical forum not just for cooperation among the four democracies but also for ensuring an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
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The Quad summit is one of the earliest multilateral engagements by Biden. It signals not just clear-headed appreciation of strategic rivalry with China but also the Biden administration’s preference for working with allies and partners. This leaders’ summit is being held at a time when Beijing is expanding its maritime capability, and increasing its defence budget, though still a quarter of that of the US but is significantly more than that of the other Quad members. However, a counter to China must not be the Quad’s defining character. Rather, it should be about alliances and partnerships to meet the pressing challenges that the world faces, to work in partnership to address emerging issues.
In that context, climate change and its impacts, improved vaccine distribution, diversification of supply chains and cyber policy are expected to be issues that the Quad will focus on. The Quad’s value in ensuring an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region and in serving as bulwark to Chinese aggression is immense.
The four democracies must work together on challenges such as inequality, polarisation that undermines liberal democracy, cyber and digital threats, and economic disruptions. The Quad brings together countries with different strengths and capabilities. Pre-empting Chinese aggression is a minimum work programme, to which much can be added.
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