Strengthening the partnership through QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) with Japan and Australia India and the United States are promoting a free, open and secure Indo-Pacific, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
Days after the first in-person Quad summit in Washington, the US’ former Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster has said that the four-nation grouping will become stronger if China continued with its aggressive behaviour and pitched for strengthening the economic aspect of the Quad to check Beijing’s economic domination of the region.
“While the Quad is not focused explicitly on China, to the degree that the Chinese continue to be aggressive in their actions, you’re going to see continued energy in the Quad,” he said at a webinar organised by India Writes Network and India and the World.
“There is absolutely no doubt that the Chinese’ behaviour has become more aggressive in the region not only on the northern border with India but also in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, some claims in Bhutan and elsewhere. This has energised the Quad, and in particular, India’s enthusiasm and participation in it,” he said while responding to a question on how far the Quad can bolster member countries’ capacity to deal with Beijing.
The webinar was moderated by Manish Chand, Founder-CEO, India Writes Network and Director, Centre for Global India Insights (CGII), a think tank focused on global affairs.
Setting the context, he said the webinar aimed at dismantling stereotypes about Quad as primarily a China-containment grouping or a gang-up against China. Beijing has bitterly dismissed the Quad as “an Asian NATO.”
Eminent former US and Indian diplomats and experts underlined that the Quad grouping of India, US, Japan and Australia is set to move beyond China fixation to diversify its agenda which will have more economic content rather than security and geopolitical.
Besides Juster, the speakers at the panel discussion included Kanwal Sibal, former foreign secretary, Teresita Schaffer, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Northeast and South Asia, Anil Wadhwa, Former Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, India; Prof. Srikanth Kondapalli, China expert at Jawaharlal University (JNU) and Satoru Nagao, Fellow, Hudson, Institute.
“The Quad will make important contributions to the economics of the region and therefore to the security of the region,” said Teresita Schafer, former US diplomat dealing with South Asia and the author of India at the high table.
Juster argued that it’s important for India to bolster its economic power to play a more proactive role in shaping the Quad.
“The rapidity with which the Quad agenda has been enlarged and deepened with full Indian participation signals that the Quad will continue to play an increasing role in India’s strategic and economic thinking,” said Sibal.
Speaking about the QUAD’s position in relation to other plurilateral groupings in the region, including the newly-formed AUKUS, Anil Wadhwa, a former Indian ambassador to Italy and Thailand, said AUKUS is “neither relevant nor has any impact” for Quad.