Ever since China’s misadventures began through various initiatives in and around neighbouring countries in Asia, be it ‘Belt and Road’ initiatives or the skirmishes it continues to carry at the top end of India, its intentions seem to be getting more and more brazen. That only accentuates the importance India can attach to QUAD 2020 meeting – a security and strategic dialogue it has (revived in 2017 after a decade long slumber in 2017) annually with America, Australia and Japan. Japan is hosting the 2020 meet between the four nations on October 6.
The October 6 QUAD 2020 forum in Tokyo is being attended by Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and India’s S. Jaishankar where they will the regional situation in the current climate.
The timing of the meet could not be more critical for India as it comes at a time when India is engaged in defusing tensions with China along their disputed Himalayan border, after a military standoff led to gunshots being fired over the frontier for the first time since 1975.
“It is timely that foreign ministers of the four nations who share the same ambitions over regional matters exchange views over various challenges,” Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi has said.
“‘The Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ vision is increasingly important in the post COVID-19 world so we would like to confirm the importance of further deepening the collaboration among us and many other countries to realize the vision,” he said.
It of course sounded like music to S. Jaishankar’s ears. Putting India’s cards on the table, his office said India is not averse to institutionalising the interaction between four major democracies. committed to securing Indo-Pacific principles and the shared vision on maritime security, cyber, critical technologies, infrastructure, counter-terrorism and regional cooperation, people familiar with the development said ahead of external affairs minister S Jaishankar’s Tokyo visit on Monday for the crucial Quad security dialogue.
“India has no objections to formalising the Quad dialogue with the US, Japan and Australia as the interaction has already been taking place since 2017 with a meeting of foreign ministers taking place on the sidelines of the UNGA in 2019. If the other three members want to institutionalise the dialogue, India is ready to participate,” said a senior official.
China has made feeble attempts to drive a wedge by calling it (QUAD) an exclusive group and even reaching out to Japan for bilateral economic revival.
The US Assistant Secretary of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell said last Friday: “QUAD seeks to establish, promote and secure Indo-Pacific principles, especially as People’s Republic of China tactics, aggression, and coercion increase in the region.”
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on the eve of his visit to Tokyo, tweeted that Chinese Communist Party’s reckless economic policies and its ruthless suppression of environmental activists have resulted in China’s environmental disasters.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s reckless economic policies and its ruthless suppression of environmental activists have resulted in China’s environmental disasters. The world cannot afford the CCP model of economic development.”
The Chinese Communist Party’s reckless economic policies and its ruthless suppression of environmental activists have resulted in China’s environmental disasters. The world cannot afford the CCP model of economic development.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 2, 2020
He further said, “China irresponsibly exploits natural resources around the globe, threatening the world’s economy and jeopardizing the global environment. The Chinese Communist Party slows environmental reforms, hiding behind outdated regulations.”
All the Quad countries have serious issues with China. Australia and the US are at the receiving end of Beijing’s trade wars. China has not only banned Australian barley and other agri-products in response to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s calls for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, the state machinery sprung into action earlier in the year and unleashed its ‘social canons’ calling Australia a dangerous place for its international students and visitors.
Both India and Japan have territorial differences with China – who is behaving like a raging bull particularly for India at its top end where many India soldiers have lost their lives when caught by surprise having dropped guard because the official parleys were on and ceasefire was to be observed by both sides.
Political observers both within the Modi government and outside believe China wants to bully India to acceding to its maximalist 1959 LAC line.
For Modi government the Chinese position is influenced by India’s internal issues and particularly its decision to abrogate Article 370 last year. It finds Beijing’s posturing as interference in India’s internal affairs and does not want to yield to it neither in its internal governance nor its diplomatic manoeuvring be it Indo-US relations or India’s profile in Asia or on the world stage. It needs no further substantiation to emphasize the fact that QUAD 2020 is very significant for India.
In their QUAD 2020 meet the four ministers will discuss cooperation in 5G and 5G plus technologies as well as increase interoperability during military exercises in the Indo-Pacific.
Australia is also expected to join on India’s invitation this year’s Malabar naval exercise in Bay of Bengal later this month.
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