QUAD: The Indo-Pacific Balance

Introduction


The Indo-Pacific can be rightly deemed as one of the volatile geopolitical hotspots of today. Following the words of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, the two oceans have indeed converged into one. Indo-Pacific has been turning into a very significant region of the world owing to increased trade between rapidly growing countries such as India, Vietnam, South Korea, and China. The world has taken notice of the improved logistics and manufacturing that the Asian countries are able to provide. However, the Chinese factor contributes to the extensive increase in terms of both the growth and volatility of the Indo-Pacific. The Belt and Road Initiative along with the methods such as the Debt Trap and Chequebook diplomacy that China utilizes to achieve its ambition of a bipolar world with the leading one polar point of the world are extremely concerning for the countries that openly believe in multipolarity.


Countries such as South Korea, India, Philippines, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and other ASEAN countries in China's neighborhood are seriously worried about China’s expansionist vision and tendencies. These Chinese tendencies span across land, air, space, and most importantly seas. In spite of the growing concern from China, the Indo-Pacific which ranges from India’s West coast till the United States of America's West Coast is riddled with numerous other problems that range from piracy and movement of goods to environmental protection and retrieving natural resources. Almost a decade ago, a group of democratic powers namely - India, Australia, Japan, and the USA came together to discuss the region and its future. The group came to be known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue more popularly, QUAD. The group has been oscillating on the active-inactive poles for over a decade now, and the time has dawned for it to take the high point of cooperation and engagement.


Journey of QUAD


The origins of QUAD can be greatly credited to the Tsunami Core Group consisting of the same four members of QUAD - Japan, India, Australia, and the USA. It was formed in 2004-05 to coordinate the response to the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. This group was extremely effective due to the determination possessed by the countries of India, Japan, and Australia along with the resources available with the USA to tackle the grave aftermath of the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. This antecedent was a significantly visionary owing to the democratic axis that is commonly shared by the members of this group along with the realization that convergence of the great seas required protection in order to ensure free and open navigation for trade and strategic purposes.



In May of 2007, to much joy of the newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Quadrilateral met for an “exploratory” meeting in Manila. This exploratory meeting was deemed to possess the potential to turn into something much greater. However, India and Australia who wanted to position a more “