After spending a decade on the pages of security studies journals, the once dissolved Quadrilateral Initiative is back. After news emerged last week that Japan had proposed a four-way dialogue with India, Australia and the US on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Philippines next week, there is speculation that US President Donald Trump’s would announce a new “quad” initiative during his ongoing tour of Asia.
There is an expectation that the new grouping would seek to counter Chinese naval and economic power in Asia. In New Delhi, analysts have viewed the recent developments in conjunction with the Indian Navy’s expansion of the Malabar Naval Exercises, as also the re-invigoration of defence ties with Tokyo and Canberra, which many say is a sign that Indian policymakers are opening up to the idea of a democratic security-alliance in Asia. An equally strong possibility is the formation of a strong economic bloc to counter Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative in Asia.
There is little clarity of whether the “Concert of Democracies” in Asia is a really viable proposition. While Japan and the US have desisted from commenting on the objectives and political orientation of the new group, India and Australia seem to be hoping it will have a China-centric economic and security agenda. This sets us up well to debate the two important questions that animate Quadrilateral passions:
- Can India, US Australia and Japan form a potent naval alliance to counter China in the Indo-Pacific?
- Will Asia’s “Concert of Democracies” combine effectively to present a viable alternative to China’s BRI?
Read the agenda here.
Commander Abhijit Singh, Senior Fellow and Head, Maritime Policy Initiative, ORF
Dr. Abhijnan Rej, Fellow, Strategic Studies Programme, ORF
VADM Anup Singh, Former Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command
Jayadeva Ranade, Member, National Security Advisory Board & President, Centre for China Analysis and Strategy
Suhasini Haidar, Deputy Resident Editor & Diplomatic Affairs, The Hindu
The timing of the event is from 2:30 p.m. to 5:10 p.m.