For most of the last decade, China seemed invincible. From the idea and operation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to sending signals of surrounding military domination, from the pursuit of greater economic growth to becoming a political player in countries across South Asia, Africa and Latin America, searching for more and more on international governance structures From managing to reduce the number of Kovid-19 in the initial period to creating a web of economic interdependence, Xi Jinping presided over the new, robust and successful China.
But history is never linear; Not even politics. And we are now at a moment when China’s vulnerabilities become clear for the first time.
Its zero-covid-19 policy has led to economic ruin. Its predatory economic practices are now being set back by smaller countries in South Asia. Xi’s domestic political control may be a testament to the rift. Its military war has created insecurity throughout the region. The ability to execute and execute projects has been shown to be exaggerated. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has destabilized it, showing the power of the West in relation to the international financial system.
In addition, the emergence of the quad appears to be suppressing China. And if the meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday is indicative, Beijing is right to worry for four reasons.
The first is the political commitment that India, the United States (US), Japan and Australia have shown in bringing new life to the quad since last March. Grouping consists of four leader-level summits (two virtual, two individual). Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese rushed to Tokyo to attend the Quad meeting as his first assignment. Foreign ministers from four countries met in Melbourne this February. It is noteworthy that the quad fell victim to political blame-game or bureaucratic inertia; And in recent decades of diplomatic initiatives, the frequency of high-level engagement and the substance of the work it has done can already be considered the most successful procedure. Despite its war in Ukraine, its investment in the US quad, and the US and India’s disagreements over Russia, do not affect the quad. And with so many countries eager to join the quad, its political appeal is growing.
Two, the Quad’s robust agenda comes from the recognition that China’s advantage in the region lies in its ability to invest resources and make (often false) promises of economic development. By combining resources and comparative advantages, and then providing vaccines, scholarships, investing in infrastructure, deepening climate initiatives and humanitarian and disaster relief, Quad has the potential to make a significant difference in the lives of Indo-Pacific people. – Without forcing region states to choose between the US and China, a situation that Southeast Asian countries want to avoid.
Three, quad countries recognize that future wars are in the maritime and technological domain. That is why, in Tokyo, he launched the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Sea Domain Awareness; This is in addition to the joint naval exercises already underway. That is why the Quad Working Group on emerging and critical technologies is focused on creating standards, ensuring interoperability, maintaining supplier diversity and securing semiconductors along with other steps. By establishing its presence in the maritime field and leading the technological war to China’s door, the quad has sent a clear signal that it is not threatening.
And finally, the release of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) is a sign that China’s economic dominance in the region is not unanimous. The IPEF does not include market access, and details of its four pillars (supply-chain resilience; clean energy, decarbonisation and infrastructure; tax and anti-corruption; and fair and resilient trade) have yet to be revealed. The US (despite the harsh political climate at home) has been able to push through a framework that plays a role in setting standards and creating new economic chains, and a dozen countries have signed on. This is just the beginning of a new economic architecture conversation, and Beijing is not happy.
None of this is intended to underestimate differences within the quad – for example, Taiwan is a major security priority for the US in the Indo-Pacific, but India has different concerns when it comes to the war in Beijing. The US, Japan and Australia are allies of the treaty and there are cases where New Delhi is not on the same page as the other three countries. It is also wrong to underestimate China. Beijing will remain the most formidable Asian power for years to come, despite recent setbacks.
But the issue of the quad, as Beijing alleges, is not to stir up conflict. It aims to avoid conflict by creating a more equal energy balance on the Indo-Pacific ground. The absence of this energy balance has led China to overreach and miscalculate in recent years. And this has made the need for a new mechanism of prevention very urgent. Tokyo’s message is a message of peace, but peace on terms acceptable to all major powers. As China goes through its most serious crisis in recent years, it may want to quietly internalize the effects of the quad and shy away from unilateral actions.
The opinions expressed are personal