The third quadripartite summit will be held on May 24 in Tokyo in light of the conflict in Ukraine. This conflict has drained the US/EU/NATO, to the exclusion of almost everything else.
The West is trying to create a global front against Russia, even going so far as to appeal to and threaten China not to support Russia economically or militarily. India has also come under pressure to condemn Russia for its aggression against Ukraine, to scale back its military ties with Russia, not to violate Western sanctions against the country, and specifically, not to buy discounted Russian oil or pay through the rupee. Order. However, comprehensive pressure has not been applied to India due to the almost indispensable role of India in any viable Indo-Pacific strategy of which the Quartet is a concrete facet.
During his recent visit to Europe – which is at the center of the Ukrainian storm – Prime Minister Narendra Modi managed to maintain India’s independent position on Ukraine without affecting the positive movement forward in Indo-European relations. Modi had a successful summit with the Nordic countries, when two of them—Finland and Sweden—already preparing to abandon their traditional neutrality and apply for NATO membership, speaks volumes about the growing recognition in Europe—and thus the West—the need to accommodate India somewhat geopolitically.
This suggests that although President Biden has described India’s position on Ukraine within the Quartet as shaky, India will be able to hold out in Tokyo. In the joint statements with Denmark, the Nordic countries and France, the difference in the respective positions of Ukraine appeared, with the European side separately declaring its condemnation of Russia and the unanimous paragraph accommodating the developing position of India. It is reasonable to assume that even with the US in Tokyo, India will be able to retain the language it accepted during Modi’s visit to Europe.
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China and Beyond: The Quadruple Agenda
This does not mean that the United States will not continue within and outside the Quartet to press for a change in India’s position on Ukraine as part of a larger effort to bring India closer to the West. In a speech to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies on May 9, Kurt Campbell, White House coordinator for the Indo-Pacific region, emphasized the administration’s coordination with Europe to this end. “One of the things that is clearly going on between the United States and Europe is the desire to engage more substantively with India,” he said. “In this new strategic context, India is in many respects a seesaw state, and … it is in the interest of all of us to try to work over time to move its course westward.”
In February of this year, the US announced its policy to support India’s “continued rise and regional leadership,” delivering the “tremendous” potential and promise of Quad, and promoting “open, flexible, secure and trustworthy technology, including 5G, Open RAN and cuber capability.” Interestingly, the US said it views its strategy for China as “global in scope”, and “the Indo-Pacific as a particularly highly competitive region”.
It will detract from the Quartet’s purpose and cohesion if issues outside the Indo-Pacific are on the agenda. The Quartet was never intended as a confrontation with Russia in the Indo-Pacific region. There is no doubt that Russia is a force in the Indo-Pacific region geographically, politically and militarily. It is part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), has a naval fleet in Vladivostok, and a territorial dispute with Japan over sovereignty over the Kuril Islands. It has military relations with some ASEAN countries in the field of arms supply, and it has traditional political and military relations with Vietnam in particular. In October 2021, it conducted naval exercises with China for the first time in the western Pacific, around the main island of Honshu in Japan.
However, the genesis and development of the Quartet relates to China’s activities in the South and East China Seas, the militarization of islands in the South China Sea, and the assertion of illegal sovereignty claims in the Western Pacific in violation of the United Nations Convention on Law. The sea (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). Moreover, the Quartet has a much broader agenda that covers other challenges posed by China, including those that have come to the fore during the pandemic regarding China’s over-reliance on critical supply chains and raw materials, China’s weaponization for political reasons, and dual-use communication projects Under the massive Belt and Road Initiative, the challenges posed by China in the fields of critical technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, semiconductors, 5G and 6G etc. All these diverse issues are on the quadrilateral agenda, including climate change, vaccines against COVID, illegal fishing, disaster relief, communication etc., where three working groups were formed in specific regions at a previous summit.
Quadruple Report Card
The Summit will undoubtedly assess the progress made in implementing its agenda. The report card does not look impressive. The plan to produce a billion doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine in India for the Indo-Pacific countries has not progressed sufficiently, and the prospects do not look bright as the problem of vaccine shortages in this region appears to have been largely addressed, along with some issues in the United States with FDA approvals American for this American vaccine in question.
With regard to technology issues can not achieve quick results. India is intent on developing domestic semiconductor manufacturing capacity. We must see what the Quartet can provide for this ambition, as well as in other specific high-tech areas in which private sector cooperation will be key, with government facilitation in terms of incentives, regulatory processes, etc. The AUKUS agenda also covers some of the high-tech areas on the Quartet’s agenda, which may cast doubt on which forum will be prioritized. However, India’s impressive capabilities in the IT sector which can be leveraged in the common interest of the Quartet countries as well as the country’s massive digitization program will make India an attractive partner.
The issue of global food security in the wake of the Ukraine crisis is likely to be raised at the Quartet summit. The United States has already announced that it will discuss the issue in the United Nations Security Council and persuade India to allow wheat exports.
The bigger question is how much attention the United States can realistically give to the Indo-Pacific and the Quartet given the priority it attaches to its confrontation with Russia. While the United States declares that it has the ability to deal with threats from Russia and China at the same time, citing the organization of a US-ASEAN summit in Washington and Biden’s visit to East Asia and the holding of the Quartet summit as evidence of this. Prolonging the Ukraine crisis will test the United States’ abilities to maintain two fronts.
The United States believes that the power of its tough sanctions on Russia has been demonstrated and China cannot help but notice because its dependence on Western markets and financing is much greater than that of Russia and has much to lose in the confrontation with the West. The fact that Germany, China’s largest partner in Europe, is to Russia suggests that with the changing mood in China in Europe, Germany could also come under pressure on its relations with China. The US also appears to believe that the US/EU/NATO response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine will make China reconsider any plans to coerce Taiwan militarily.
While the United States continues to talk tough with China, and the latter does not miss any opportunity to respond, on the ground, the United States is reported to have already raised 68 percent of Trump’s tariffs on Chinese exports to the United States, and there is currently a conflict between them. The Secretary of the Treasury to cut tariffs further to control inflation in the United States and the United States Trade Representative who opposes it. The need for the United States to plead with China not to come to Russia’s aid shows that its hand is not as strong as it would like to believe. Communication with Venezuela also shows that the United States is ready to make concessions to mitigate the consequences of its punitive sanctions on Russia.
The security component of the Quartet has no doubt been toned down by the emergence of AUKUS, which will be a forum for developing a range of advanced military technologies to amplify the collective strength of the three partner nations to deter China. The White House rejected Japan’s invitation to join AUKUS, but if such a step were taken – unlikely due to AUKUS’s nuclear dimension and Japan’s pacifist constitution – it would change the nature of the Quad, notwithstanding the Navy. The quadrilateral dimension will remain, as there can be no viable Indo-Pacific strategy covering the Indian Ocean without India.
China’s success in establishing itself in the Solomon Islands spurred the United States’ Pacific strategy. Biden addressed the Pacific Islands Forum earlier this year. There is no doubt that both Japan and Australia are concerned about the Chinese coup in the Solomon Islands. For India, too, such Chinese successes are a prelude to an eventual more Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean.
In October 2021, Biden announced the intention of the United States to develop an Indo-Pacific economic framework covering trade facilitation, digital economy standards and technology, supply chain resilience, decarbonization and clean energy, infrastructure, labor standards, etc. An important part of this initiative is already covered in the Quadripartite Agenda. Clearly, discussions within the Quartet cannot be isolated from the more ambitious US agenda, of which important parts of India’s thinking should be part of WTO discussions and some of which should not be linked to trade issues. India’s view of the Quartet’s agenda in these areas will need to be adjusted accordingly.
The Ukraine crisis brought about a revolution in global geopolitics almost unprecedented since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with repercussions also for the Quartet.
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Kanwal Sibal, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of India. He was India’s ambassador to Turkey, Egypt, France and Russia. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the position of this publication.
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