Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of Quad

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    Recently, the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of Quad countries ended in Delhi.

    Key Takeaways 

    • About the Meeting:
      • The Quad SOM was the first meeting of the group since the Taiwan crisis.
      • The meeting reviewed projects agreed to by leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. during the Quad Summit in Tokyo this year.
      • It set the course for a Ministerial-level meeting of the four countries, due to be held in India next year.
    • Free Indo-Pacific Region:
      • The Quad has emerged as a key platform for ensuring progress, prosperity, stability and security. 
      • The officials discussed regional & global developments, reaffirming their vision for a free, open & inclusive Indo-Pacific.
    • Concerns of China’s Influence:
      • There was a veiled reference to tensions with China and concerns over Beijing’s growing influence in the island nations near India and Australia.
      • The officials spoke about the need to share information on possible security concerns in the Indo-Pacific maritime sphere, and “maintaining the rule-based global order”. 
      • The officials said that it was “erroneous” to portray their discussions as seeking to “counter or contain” China.
    • On Quad vaccine initiative:
      • The problems for the Quad vaccine initiative, which had been announced in March 2021, were also discussed briefly. 
      • The original plan to manufacture one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the end of 2023.
      • It has run aground over India’s refusal to give an indemnity waiver for the American-developed vaccines, as well as shrinking demand for the vaccines as the Indo-Pacific countries have completed their COVID-19 inoculation schedules. 
      • The Quad SOM had discussed a repurposing of the initiative for cooperation in future pandemic situations. 
    • Dialogues with India:
      • The meeting was one of a series of engagements with India’s Quad partners including-
        • an India-U.S. inter-sessional 2+2 meeting with diplomatic and Defence officials and 
        • the visit to Tokyo of Foreign Minister and Defence Minister for the India-Japan 2+2 Ministerial meetings from September 7-10.
      • Through these dialogues, the US and India will advance an ambitious set of initiatives across our defense partnership in support of information-sharing, logistics, technology, and high-end Navy cooperation.
      • India and Australia are also engaged in advancing the realisation of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. 
      • India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership is based on shared values of democracy, freedom and respect for rule of law.

    QUAD

    • About:
      • It is also known as Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD).
      • QUAD is an informal group of India, the US, Japan and Australia.
    • Background:
      • Rising Chinese influence and assertion in Indo-Pacific
      • India-China Standoff
      • Iron fist handling of Hongkong Protests
      • Imperialistic attitude toward Taiwan.
    • Objective:
      • It is a strategic dialogue with the objective to ensure a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo Pacific.
    • Shared values between the nations:
      • Political democracies
      • Market economies
      • Pluralistic societies

    Significance of QUAD for India

    • Shared Interests & Values:
      • Quad is not an alliance but a grouping of countries driven by shared interests and values and interested in strengthening a rules-based order in the strategically-important Indo-Pacific region.
    • Countering Chinese Factor: 
      • Recent stand-offs on the Indo-China Border and reluctance of Russia to step in and build pressure is forcing India to look for alternatives.
    • Net Security Provider in Indian Ocean: 
      • India under the SAGAR initiative wants to become a net security provider in the Indian Ocean.
      • QUAD cooperation may give India access to multiple strategic locations for creating Naval bases.
    • Multipolar World: 
      • India has supported a rule based multipolar world and QUAD can help it in achieving its ambition of becoming a regional superpower.
    • Post COVID Diplomacy: 
      • The disruption across the world and non-transparent systems of China pose an opportunity for India to take lead and become the World’s Manufacturing Hub.
      • India can leverage its expertise in the vaccine and pharma industry to increase its soft power.
      • Further, Japan and the US want to shift their manufacturing companies out of China in order to curb its imperialistic behaviour.

    Challenges

    • Different Aspirations of QUAD Nations: 
      • QUAD’s coherence may suffer due to India’s bid to balance QUAD and RIC (Russia, India and China),
      • The reluctance shown by Australia for QUAD in the past, Japan and the US are seeking their own economic interests with China.
      • Also there is a lack of coherence on the definition of Indo-Pacific.
    • Formal opposition by China: 
      • China has formally intimated its displeasure over the QUAD meetings.
      • It is being termed as Asian NATO.
    • Trade and Supply Chains: 
      • China threatened to stop the supply of rare earth metals to the Japanese electronic industry.
      • The Corona pandemic disrupted the Global supply chain due to lockdown in China.
    • Cheque Book Diplomacy of China: 
      • The One Belt One Road Initiative, Maritime Silk Route, Unsustainable Debt and Project Fundings, etc are being deployed by China to attract small nations.
    • Chinese Closeness to ASEAN: 
      • With the signing of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), ASEAN and China have come further close.

    Way Ahead

    • Coherent strategy: 
      • All the member countries must develop a unified approach to tackle China rather than act in Individual interests.
    • Strengthening the Network: 
      • All four countries must pool their resources to check the Economic might of China, rather than just letting it function as a certification agency for infrastructure projects.
      • QUAD can be an effective tool to counter Chinese adventure and imperialism ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.
    • Formalising the talks: 
      • The formalisation may help to give QUAD a more structured format.
      • Efforts should be taken to build joint capacity to deal with future challenges.

    Source: TH

     

    Mains Practice Question

     

    Q. The growing convergence of QUAD has been driven by concerns about the Indo-Pacific region’s stability, prosperity and security. Discuss.