We are meeting at a time when the world order is under enormous stress and is rapidly mutating, generating new alignments and realignments. The Quad – the four-nation plurilateral grouping comprising the four major democracies – India, US, Japan and Australia – is the product of this prolonged geopolitical churning.
The Quad nearly died a decade ago, but has experienced a Phoenix-like rebirth in the last four years. The backstory, of course, goes much longer, marked by a thousand visions and revisions, but leading to a revival of senior officials meeting in Manila, followed by the meeting at the level of foreign ministers in Tokyo, and culminating in the virtual summit followed by the first in-person Quad summit in Washington on September 24 this year.
Matching substance with hype that preceded it, the first in-person Quad summit forged pragmatic and result-oriented cooperation pivoted around three Cs: countering covid through vaccines, combating climate change and setting standards on development of critical emerging technologies.
Now, let me just briefly highlight the scope of the webinar in terms of what we are trying to achieve by bringing together eminent diplomats and strategic experts:
First, the webinar aims at demystifying the Quad which is often confounded by cliches and stereotypes.
Second, we will review key outcomes of the September 24 Quad summit and discuss the viability of these initiatives and possible timeline for their implementation.
Third, the webinar will seek to explore and map future directions of the Quad as a grouping and its positioning among other plurilateral groupings.
Now, let me unpack what I mean by stereotyping of the Quad. In this regard, there are essentially three cliches or stereotypes
Quad is primarily a China-containment grouping or a gang-up against China
Quad is Asian NATO, designed to contain China.
Quad is an exclusive clique designed to exclude rival powers.
In all these cliches, China dominates as a sub-text. The last two Quad summits have tried to dismantle these cliches by branding and positioning the Quad as “a force for global good,” in the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The transformative outcomes that emanated from the Quad summit included signature initiatives such as operationalisation of the Quad Vaccine Initiative under the broader rubric of Indo-Pacific Health Security, Quad Infrastructure Initiative, resilient supply chains for semiconductors, clean energy and setting Statement of Principles on development of critical and emerging technologies. In each of these initiatives, one can detect the hidden undercurrent of undercutting China, but they all stand on their own, with tangible benefits for mankind, cutting across geographies.
Looking ahead, the Quad is set to grow from strength to strength as the Quad enjoys support of not only the leadership of the four quad countries, but also their strategic community and intellectual class. The first in-person Quad summit has positioned the Quad as a key plank of a mutating world order and a powerful illustration of the democratic way of doing things.
The tangible people-centric outcomes are set to pitch the Quad in a different trajectory than that of the controversial AUKUS security partnership among Australia, UK and US which threatened to outshine the Quad ahead of the summit. The Quad, in other words, is set to not only grow but will also branch out in new areas such as space cooperation as identified by the September 24 summit.
(This article is based on remarks made by Manish Chand, Founder-CEO, India Writes Network and Director, Centre for Global India Insights at the webinar entitled “Quad: The Power of 4 – Reshaping Post-Covid Word, organized by India Writes Network, India and the World magazine and Centre for Global India Insights)
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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