According to Oriental Aspect, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe invited officials from the U.S., India, and Australia to the Quad Summit in Manila in Nov. 2017 to discuss the formation of a counterbalancing coalition. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the time that Abe’s effort was a ruse, not a real thing and that it would fizzle out like the Indo-Pacific bubble. However, things have altered dramatically since then.
In June 2020, a significant border skirmish erupted between China and India, resulting in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers. Due to this episode, the Quad appears to have become more conscious of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) aggressive and ambitious disposition. Perhaps, as a result, high-level contacts amongst Quad members were emphasized even more.
The Quad’s foreign ministers met in Oct. 2020, and the heads of the coalition members met in a video conference in March 2021. More recently, on Sept. 24, in Washington, the Quad’s heads of government had a candid discussion about the alliance’s cooperation plan, despite the complicated development of the epidemic.
According to reports, the Quad puts pressure on China’s ruling power on three fronts: the COVID epidemic, the economy, and the military.
1. COVID’s Influence
The field of COVID vaccines was one of the prominent conversation topics of the Quad during the video conference in March 2021.
Since the epidemic outbreak, Beijing has been accused of using the COVID vaccine as a “diplomatic weapon” to sway governments worldwide. As a result, the Quad’s vaccine manufacturing and supply collaboration for the Indo-Pacific region is to counter Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy approaches.
During the conference, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that the Quad is “launching an ambitious program of cooperation to speed the manufacture of a COVID-19 vaccine for global benefit, increase immunization to benefit the entire Asia-Pacific region.”
According to the content of this summit, the Quad will distribute 1 billion free COVID vaccines to countries in the region.
Since the COVID pandemic expanded globally from China, the United States and Australia have been two of the Quad members to most enrage the Chinese government with remarks or actions critical of Beijing on the COVID issue.
According to AFP, then–Australian foreign minister Marise Payne said on April 19, 2020, that Australia “needs” a probe into China’s handling of the COVID epidemic that erupted in Wuhan.
Payne told Australian station ABC, “We need to know the details that only an impartial report can assist us in understanding the origins of the virus, how to respond, and about transparency in sharing information.”
When Former U.S. President Donald Trump accused the World Health Organization of being too pro-China and mishandling the outbreak, Payne stated that Australia shares the same worries as the U.S.
The Australian foreign minister also questioned Beijing’s honesty in dealing with the pandemic, predicting that the ramifications of COVID will “to some extent” harm Australia–China relations.
Greg Hunt, Australia’s health minister, has also expressed support for the launch of an independent investigation into COVID’s origins.
Meanwhile, the United States led the globe in urging Beijing to examine the origins of COVID, with politicians from both chambers of Congress, government officials, specialists, and the U.S. media all involved in the probe. Indeed they continue to make statements targeted at determining the source of the fatal virus that erupted in Wuhan and blaming the CCP for the outbreak.
2. Economic Pressure
As we all know, Chinese leader Xi Jinping promptly executed the “Belt and Road” plan after ascending to the head of the CCP to influence the entire world, with the Asia-Pacific area as a focal point.
According to defense analyst Tom Corben of The Diplomat, if China’s regime–funded Belt and Road infrastructure projects establish a regular military presence in the Pacific. Then, Beijing will pose a military threat to Pacific island nations, including Australia, while also cutting off vital supply lines from the U.S. and Japan.
The Quad is well aware of this and has devised a strategy to address it. The Quad had several economic coordination initiatives in addition to military cooperation. According to the AFR daily, the leaders of the Quad countries signed an agreement to expedite infrastructure investment in more than 30 countries in the Indian Ocean during a face-to-face meeting at the White House on Sept. 27, specifically to compete with China’s “Belt and Road” program.
The United States, Japan, India, and Australian leaders decided to join an infrastructure expert group named the “Quad Infrastructure Partnership” to help kick-start identifying projects needing financing in the Indo-Pacific. Members of the Quad will fund these initiatives.
The Quad agreed to form the Quad Infrastructure Coordination Group, according to a joint statement released following the conference.
This coordination committee will meet regularly to share infrastructure needs assessments and coordinate a transparent and high-quality approach to infrastructure investment and development. Quad will also coordinate technical assistance and construction capacity with regional partners, ensuring that these projects are mutually supportive and complementary to suit the needs of both countries, according to the release. The Indo-Pacific has increasing infrastructure investment demands.
Australia is taking aggressive measures in the Quad to counteract the CCP’s influence in the region.
The Australian government officially canceled two Belt and Road agreements between Victoria and Beijing in April. This move is considered part of Canberra’s efforts to block China from purchasing Digicel Group’s (Australia) telecommunications network in the Pacific and Caribbean.
In March of this year, the Australian government allocated $232 million (AU$300 million) to infrastructure initiatives in the Pacific area. Canberra is taking this step to offset Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative.
“Australia is investing in high-quality infrastructure projects with neighboring island nations in Thailand,” Zed Seselja, Australia’s Federal Minister for International Development and the Pacific, told The Herald. For example, our Binh Duong was built with a combination of loans and grants.”
Australia has put in place this funding package for five critical projects as of March 2021, including developing an undersea cable for Palau and a hydropower infrastructure in the Solomon Islands. Both Palau and the Solomon Islands are or were previously friends of Taiwan, which Beijing regards as part of its territory.
According to the Aboluowang website, which cited information from the Lowy Institute, the Pacific Aid Map shows that, while Beijing is attempting to increase its influence in the Pacific island countries through various means, Beijing’s aid to the region has decreased significantly in recent years. According to statistics, Beijing’s assistance to the area declined by 31% in 2019 ($169 million), the lowest amount spent on “diplomacy money” by the CCP in the last decade.
Jonathan Pryke, director of the Pacific Islands Project at the Lowy Institute, said: “China’s role [in the region] has risen in recent years, but it has since dropped precipitously. This year, 2019, is the polar opposite of what most people believe.”
According to Lowy’s 2019 statistics, CCP funding to the Pacific region has dropped to its lowest level since 2012. Moreover, Pryke claims that his institute did a preliminary assessment of China’s assistance in 2020 and has yet to see a return.
In collaboration with Western allies, the U.S. has announced its strategy named “Build Back Better World.” In June, the program introduced at the G7 Summit in the United Kingdom intends to provide alternative infrastructure choices in developing countries with strategic locations.
One of Quad’s main points of conversation during this meeting is trade. Leaders of the Quad also discussed how to ensure a steady supply of rare-earth metals, which are essential to make electric cars, batteries, wind turbines, and “decarbonized” infrastructure. China now produces 58% of all rare earth. Thus, the Quad’s cooperation strategy aims to reduce Beijing’s dominance and avoid being linked to Beijing in the rare earth area. When there was a territorial conflict between China and Japan, Beijing stopped delivering rare earth, and Japan suffered greatly.
3. Military pressure
At the time, Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, met with Japanese Prime Minister Suga in Tokyo on Oct. 6, 2020, and attended a meeting with the foreign ministers of India, Australia, and the host country Japan.
According to the BBC, Mr. Pompeo attended the “Quad Meeting” when all four countries attempted to form a united front against an increasingly dominant China.
Mr. Pompeo said the meeting was “something we have been planning to conduct for a long time” before leaving the U.S. for Japan.
Former U.S. President Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said in late Jan. 2021 that the Quad might be the most critical relationship the U.S. has established since NATO.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs stated in a press release issued after the meeting on Feb. 18, 2021, that interest in the Indo-Pacific is growing. In addition, it should highlight that the Indo-Pacific concept is gaining traction internationally, including in Europe.
During the Quad’s inaugural summit video conference on March 12, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that the Quad has matured and will play an essential role in the Indo-Pacific region’s stability.
In agreement with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated, “The Indo-Pacific will now shape the destiny of the world in the twenty-first century.” As the four nations’ leaders, Our connection will be the driving force behind peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific as a significant factor.”
According to Japanese Prime Minister Suga, Japan, the United States, Australia, and India share a similar interest in a free Indo-Pacific.
“Washington is dedicated to working with partners and allies in the area for shared stability,” stated U.S. President Joe Biden. The “Quad” plays a vital role because it focuses on real solutions and tangible outcomes.
We are all aware that, in recent years, Beijing has become increasingly assertive in the Pacific Ocean’s seas, particularly in the East China Sea or East Sea, where it has a territorial dispute with Japan. It is the world’s most vital shipping waterway, in which the Quad members have direct stakes. Moreover, Beijing is escalating concrete steps to influence the Indian Ocean, in addition to the two seas described above, according to the Brookings Institution India.
As a result, the Quad must curb China’s harassing operations in the Indo-Pacific to achieve a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” The Quad has targeted this aim with particular initiatives that have been ongoing in the past.
According to SCMP, French warships and four Quad countries took part in the French-led joint exercise La Perouse in the Bay of Bengal from April 5-7, 2021, a month after the presidents of the Quad countries convened online.
According to Navalnews, the United States, Japan, Australia, and India commenced phase one of the Malabar 2021 in the Philippine Sea on Aug. 26, 2021. “Quad nations kick-off 4-day Malabar naval war games with an eye on China,” the Times of India reported on the exercise.
The Quad’s warships commenced Phase Two of Exercise Malabar 2021 in the Bay of Bengal on Oct. 11, according to Pacom.
Quad members participate in bilateral workouts in addition to joint exercises. For example, the Army Forces of Japan and the United States began a joint movement at training facilities across Japan on July 1, 2021, with about 3,000 service members taking part. This nine-day drill is the largest ever between the two countries’ ground troops, according to Japanese state broadcaster NHK, as Beijing ramps up its military activity in the East and South China Seas and the Taiwan Strait.
According to NHK, this exercise will also allow the United States to deploy an interceptor missile unit for the first time at the training base on Anami Oshima island in southern Japan.
The Hindu reports that India and the United States began the two-day PASSEX naval drill in the East Indian Ocean on March 28.
According to the News, the U.S. and Australian navies staged a combined drill dubbed Talisman Saber from July 14 to July 31, 2021. China, in particular, dispatched two ships to the waters off Australia’s northeast coast to observe the practice.
The Quad members’ recent exercises suggest that the alliance is sending Beijing a strong message. Indeed, the military maneuvers in the seas surrounding China have put a shiver up the back of its neck. They are cautioning it against attempting to destabilize the U.S. and gain global dominance.
According to the Oriental Aspect, what Beijing did not expect was its organization to be unable to influence the Quad despite utilizing both soft and firm means. On the contrary, Australia, perceived as fragile but indestructible, fosters an anti-Chinese attitude in its society. Japan is a complex country to conquer. Due to the violent border warfare, the Indian government and people have developed an unfavorable attitude toward the CCP. They have pulled closer to the U.S. on security and defense issues. Even though Donald Trump is no longer president, President Biden has grown to respect allies and the Quad.
As a result, the Quad will soon become the blueprint for a bigger worldwide coalition against the CCP. The organization assuming control of China’s leadership will face a genuine nightmare if the alliance expands to include more Asia, the European Union, and NATO.