• 12 June, 2024
Foreign Affairs, Geopolitics & National Security

Quad remains crucial despite emergence of ‘Squad’: Foreign affairs expert

Sat, 25 May 2024   |  Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sydney [Australia], May 25 (ANI): Following the successful inaugural US-Japan-Philippines trilateral summit and joint maritime patrols in the South China Sea in April this year, a new multilateral group, the ‘Squad’ has emerged – a four-way counterbalance to China amid escalating tensions between China and the Philippines over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
While the ‘Squad’, comprising the United States, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines, offers a timely boost to Filipino policy circles, the Quad remains central to regional security dynamics, Rahul Mishra, a foreign affairs expert said in a report in The Interpreter, a publication of the Lowy Institute.
The Philippines has consistently challenged China’s illegal maritime claims and has employed all available political and military measures to manage the situation effectively.
“The Quad, consisting of Australia, India, Japan, and the US, recently faced challenges such as the postponement of its New Delhi summit and India’s foreign policy choices, including abstaining from UN resolutions on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and maintaining trade ties with Russia, procuring Russian S-400 missile systems against the preference of the United States, and the Chabahar port deal with Iran, have raised doubts about the Quad’s cohesion,” he said.
While highlighting these challenges, the expert emphasized that Quad’s cohesion remains intact despite these developments.
Mishra, a Senior Research Fellow at the German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance, and Associate Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University further argued that while the Squad might appear as a more effective mechanism, it is ultimately a localized response to the South China Sea situation.
Mishra underscored that India might not perfectly align with its partners in the minilateral group, but its Indo-Pacific heft is much greater than that of the Philippines.
Moreover, it is premature to dismiss the Quad as ineffective. Two immediate developments will shape its trajectory: the outcome of India’s elections, and the timing and agenda of the next Quad summit. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi is re-elected, and in all likelihood, he will be, the Quad will gain more traction within Indian policy circles. India has already scheduled the Quad summit for the second half of 2024 once a new government has been formed.
India’s recent foreign policy choices make sense. Despite some not being in tune with policy preferences of its Quad peers, neither Washington, Canberra or Tokyo has moved to downgrade the Quad or replace it.
Unlike the Philippines, Australia and Japan, India is not a US treaty ally and receives no direct military support from other Quad members, even during the ongoing border standoff with China. This highlights the differences in expectations from India within the Quad setting. This reality should condition what to expect and, just as importantly, what not expect from India.
The Philippines, despite its assertive stance against China, “lacks the military and economic capabilities” to fully engage in extensive Indo-Pacific operations. Consequently, expecting the Squad to assume broad regional responsibilities would be “unrealistic.” The Squad’s primary role will likely be a localised presence in the South China Sea.
On the other hand, the Quad’s future hinges on two developments: the outcome of India’s elections and the timing and agenda of the next Quad summit. If Prime Minister Narendra Modi is re-elected, the Quad is expected to gain traction within Indian policy circles.
Notably, India has scheduled the next Quad summit for the latter half of 2024.
India’s unique position within the Quad, as a non-treaty ally that does not receive direct military support from other members, highlights the diverse expectations within the group. India’s reliance on Russia for defence needs and its distinct strategic alignment further complicate its role. However, India’s geographic location, military capabilities, and population make it an invaluable partner, the foreign affairs expert stated.
Mishra further asserted that the Quad’s role, particularly with an active Indian presence, remains “irreplaceable.”
India’s focus should be on the Quad’s security and military components rather than peripheral aspects like the Quad fellowship program. Enhancing the Quad’s composition by including nations like the Philippines and South Korea could also better address evolving regional dynamics, he added.
The foreign affairs expert concluded that even though Squad complements existing minilaterals, the Quad’s role, particularly with an active Indian presence, remains “irreplaceable.”
He also proposed the addition of the Philippines and South Korea to Quad, which according to him would be a better approach to evolving regional dynamics. (ANI)

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