The United States and its Indo-Pacific allies are stepping up efforts to form an alliance to contain China. The Japanese government advocated the early formation of the Quadripartite Security Dialogue (QUAD), in which the United States, Japan, Australia and India participate, in a full-fledged coalition to ensure security in the Indo-Pacific region. Tokyo’s proposal to hold the first summit of the leaders of the Quartet came after the idea of developing QUAD during the first telephone conversation was discussed by US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The attempt to turn QUAD into an “Asian NATO” will become one of Washington’s main regional projects, which will further exacerbate the struggle for leadership in the region between China and the United States.
After the idea of holding the first ever summit of the leaders of the United States, Japan, Australia and India during their telephone conversation was discussed by US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese Cabinet Secretary General Katsunobu Kato gave a more detailed assessment of this initiative in Tokyo. Mentioning that during the presidency of US President Donald Trump, the Foreign Ministers of Washington’s leading allies and partners in the region had already met as part of the Quadripartite Security Dialogue (QUAD), the Japanese government spokesman urged to bring their security cooperation to a new level. “We support such cooperation, including at the highest level. Using various opportunities, we strive to realize the idea of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, ”said Katsunobu Kato.
Joe Biden and his team members are increasingly using the “free and open Indo-Pacific” language to bring together regional allies and partners to contain China.
That the United States has set itself this goal, said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in his first telephone conversation with Politburo member of the CPC Central Committee Yang Jiechi, held at the end of last week. “The Secretary of State has reaffirmed that the United States will work with allies and partners to protect our shared values and interests. Our goal is to hold the PRC accountable for its actions that threaten stability in the Indo-Pacific region and for undermining the international order based on rules, ”the State Department said in a statement following the conversation.
According to the Japanese newspaper Asahi, the Biden administration is actively probing the ground for this year’s first QUAD summit via videoconference. Earlier, the foreign ministers of the United States, Japan, Australia and India met twice – in September 2019 in New York and last October in Tokyo.
In this regard, the Asahi newspaper reminds that Beijing condemns the development of the “Quartet” project, seeing in it an attempt to create a “Pacific NATO”.
Another confirmation that Washington does not intend to put off the idea of developing QUAD on the back burner was Joe Biden’s telephone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. One of the main topics was “strengthening the regional architecture” in the framework of the Quadripartite Dialogue on Security. “The leaders agreed to continue to work closely together to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific region, including supporting freedom of navigation, territorial integrity, and strengthening regional architecture through the Quartet,” in the message White House.
Created in November 2017, QUAD was conceived as a coalition of US allies and partners as part of a security strategy for the Indo-Pacific region. In addition to the meetings of foreign ministers in November last year, the QUAD countries held the Malabar naval exercises in the territorial waters of India in the Arabian Sea with the participation of two aircraft carrier groups. Their goal was to work out joint actions to defend against the “expansionist and aggressive policy” of China.
Experts interviewed by Kommersant note that after the change of the US administration, an attempt to turn QUAD into an “Asian NATO” will become one of Washington’s main Indo-Pacific projects, which will further exacerbate the struggle for leadership in the region between China and the United States.
However, Kommersant’s interlocutors point out that it will not be easy for the United States to implement this idea, and much will depend on how conflict China’s relations with both the new administration in the White House and the regional powers turn out to be.
“Back in 2007, speaking in the Indian Parliament, the then Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe put forward a proposal to form a“ space of two oceans ”- the Pacific and Indian. The United States assessed the potential of the initiative to form the Indo-Pacific Region (ITR). Under Donald Trump, Washington began to consider the concept of engineering and technical personnel to create a kind of anti-Chinese “cordon sanitaire” on the eastern and southern borders of the PRC. But such an idea cannot be realized without allies. That is why the QUAD mechanism was created, ”Vladimir Batyuk, chief researcher at the Institute of the USA and Canada, explained to Kommersant. According to the expert, the official goal of the Quartet is to develop a close security partnership based on common values and interests: the rule of law, freedom of navigation, respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, peaceful settlement of territorial disputes and free trade.
All of this, from the point of view of Washington, Tokyo, Canberra and Delhi, is being challenged by Beijing’s expansionist policies.
“However, there are serious obstacles to the transformation of the Quartet into a“ Pacific NATO ”. The Quartet member countries have different views on allied relations with the United States. If Japan and Australia are the military-political allies of the United States, India is not going to become an American ally, despite the expansion of American-Indian military and military-technical cooperation in recent years, ”notes Vladimir Batyuk.
“The US attempts to form a full-fledged anti-Chinese alliance in the Indo-Pacific region and the counter-attempts of the PRC to undermine the American system of alliances and partnerships are turning into the central plot of regional politics. If the United States is trying to move towards institutionalizing QUAD and attracting new members to it, then China will use its unique role in the regional economy to undermine the construction of such an alliance, ”Vasily, Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics, continues in a conversation with Kommersant. Kashin. “Militarily, QUAD members are already conducting joint military exercises – for example, they participated in the Malabar maneuvers organized by India. Attempts are being made to intensify quadrilateral cooperation in the field of military and dual-use technologies. However, until recently, these efforts have progressed rather slowly due to India’s unwillingness to bind itself with excessive security obligations to the United States and its allies, as well as create an irritant in its relations with Russia, ”said Mr. Kashin.
According to the expert, for India, QUAD is a way to strengthen its position in the face of China, to show that with the further growth of Chinese aggression, Delhi has a way out in the form of a closer partnership with the United States and its allies.
“So far, the development of the QUAD mechanism is facing problems. However, China’s too active, ill-considered actions may tip the scales towards strengthening this emerging alliance, ”sums up Vasily Kashin.