How the Quad can become more than an anti-China grouping

On May 23, ahead of the Quartet leaders summit in Tokyo, the United States launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) with a diverse group of 12 countries initially – Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam . The US-led economic engagement is a prominent attempt to allow countries to decouple from excessive dependence on China in order to strengthen the free and open rules-based global order that China has been aiming to overthrow, and to re-establish US hegemony. . The launch coincided with the summit of the Quartet during President Joe Biden’s visit to Seoul and Tokyo, demonstrating the essence of the Quartet and its extension as a “plus” gathering.

Most importantly, the launch of the IPEF and the Tokyo Summit dispel any remaining concerns about the disintegration of the Quartet and testify that it is a cohesive unit where that counts. The split between India and the rest of the Quartet over Ukraine and Western concern about India’s softer stance toward Russia regarding the Quartet’s cohesion and future did not affect it.

Essentially, the IPEF completes the “Quad Plus” process. It brings together seven important countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), all the Quartet states, and dialogue partners, including South Korea, strengthening the case for the “additional” characterization of the Quartet process. IPEF strongly imbues the Quad Plus character at a time when two of the world’s largest economies, India and the United States, are not part of the China-, ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) or the Comprehensive Economic Partnership. and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Progressive Agreement (CPTPP; China remains an applicant). Thus, it is an encouraging sign that the countries of the Quartet are investing their strategic directions in this regard. However, doubts remain about the relevance and advantages of the Quad Plus range.

Critics may dismiss Quad Plus as a hypothetical grouping of accepted countries that participated during the Covid pandemic. However, the format holds a lot of hope amid all the current uncertainty. It likely represented a merger of “like-minded” eastern and western nations. Even in its current abstract framework, it includes a wide range of countries (which also includes the IPEF) – developing and developed economies as well as middle and major powers that are committed to maintaining an inclusive, rules-based and liberal institutional system.

The angle of inclusiveness is questionable because grouping is essentially what China calls a US-led “anti-China” tool. However, criticism can be mitigated by developing – rather than a reflection of a broader democratic alliance, which is largely abstract at present – a “plus” framework that relies more on a shared commitment to the current international order rather than hard-to-reach “democratic values” Identifiable and more exclusive in nature. Therefore, what interested countries should envision is a broad, comprehensive and comprehensive framework that can stand as the basis for regional security and stability, multilateralism, the defense of global institutions and the status quo. Establishing a stronger regional economic framework that promotes resilient and secure supply chain connectivity is just the beginning.

Moreover, the listing of the Quartet as an anti-Chinese instrument (with a range of adjectives, from “sea foam” to “Asian NATO”) that China has promoted along with its combative tactics in the neighborhood and beyond, has only led to the consolidation of the Quartet. Increased synergy will only advance the expansion of the Quartet, which is the containment of China rather than an exclusively anti-China group, both through the inclusion of more states (plus coordination) and the agenda (security). The expanded group and related quadripartite initiatives will build a comprehensive and integrated approach to combat the common challenges arising from Xi Jinping’s push to advance exercises that achieve his ultimate goal of rejuvenating China’s glorious past and transforming it into an absolute superpower.

The IPEF – which covers fair trade, supply chain resilience, infrastructure, clean energy and decarbonization, among others – is likely to complement other Indo-Pacific projects such as the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI, founded by the three countries of the Quartet, Japan, Australia and India) that seek It also aims to build resilient and secure trade links by reducing dependence on China. In this regard, Taiwan, which already has a critical role in the global semiconductor supply chain network, has been included in SCRI and IPEF and also, by extension, in a quadrilateral, in some way (perhaps, first as a dialogue partner and thus a plus), would be a welcome addition out.

Taiwan is a major economy in the Indo-Pacific region (as well as the eighth largest trading partner of the United States in 2021 and an important partner in diversifying US supply chains), which is already participating in the US-Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue which includes many of the issues proposed in the IPEF. It is also an active member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and is constantly building its expansion within the region and beyond. Importantly, Taiwan’s inclusion would also be a geopolitical statement against coercive tactics by international actors.

A hallmark of Biden’s recent visit to Asia was South Korea’s embrace of the Indo-Pacific framework under the new Yoon Seok-yeol government. Yoon has always been keen to participate in Operation Quartet. This is the long-awaited juncture that will likely lead to South Korea’s participation in a more meaningful way in the Quartet in the near future. During the Covid-19 crisis, the Republic of Korea (along with New Zealand and Vietnam) joined the so-called Quad Plus meetings to coordinate actions to stop the epidemic.

Soon, Quad Plus should move forward with this process and enhance cooperation on important topics in the Quartet’s agenda (for example, security, biotechnology, global health and climate action). States show their willingness, and now it is the duty of the Quartet to allow the creation of a “corridor of communication” that will eventually lead to “continental communication” to promote a rules-based order.

Dr. Jagannath Panda is Chair of the Stockholm Center for South Asian, Indo-Pacific Affairs at the Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP), Sweden, and Senior Fellow at The Hague Center for Strategic Studies, Netherlands

Leave a Comment