The Pacific theatre is now an obvious area of interest to boost non-traditional activities by the Quad countries
The Quad is deftly rebalancing itself as a group with core security interests in the Indo-Pacific without specifically outlining such intentions, even as non-traditional security concerns have been deftly woven with the security compulsions of the region.The categorization of its focus across three institutional mechanisms also highlights the grooming of the Indo-Pacific as a democratic space with shared respect for regional leadership. It also points to a strategic threat continuum ning from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean. Individually, the three subregions’ importance to the regional balance in the Indo-Pacific cannot be overstated. The Joint Statement’s emphasis on the implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) depicts Quad’s aim to complement ASEAN’s regional leadership role. In the same breath, it also acknowledged the significance of ASEAN’s forums, such as the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum, as crucial platforms for strategic dialogue and cooperation in the region, the latter being a critical platform for security dialogue in the Indo-Pacific. The Pacific theatre is now an obvious area of interest to boost non-traditional activities by the Quad countries. In this regard, two important meetings that closely followed the Quad meeting were the third Summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation and the US-Pacific Island Forum meeting. The Quad countries’ engagement with the region would aspire to strike a balance between addressing the immediate and core security interests of countries like Australia and Japan apropos China and supporting regionally inclusive objectives outlined in the “2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent,” which was launched to deal with challenges such as climate change-related impacts together with the intensification of geostrategic competition. Infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific finds itself as a core Quad purpose and feeds into other objectives such as regional connectivity and economic growth for all four countries. In this regard, the announcement of the “Quad Infrastructure Fellowships Programme” is aimed at boosting infrastructure expertise across the Indo-Pacific. Furthermore, the centrality of undersea cable networks has been firmly underscored by the Quad Partnership for Cable Connectivity and Resilience, which aims to strengthen the resilience and security of critical communication infrastructure in the region.
Infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific finds itself as a core Quad purpose and feeds into other objectives such as regional connectivity and economic growth for all four countries.Other initiatives during the Summit include the need to facilitate investments in strategic technologies, including clean energy, semiconductors, critical minerals, and quantum; the launch of the Clean Energy Supply Chains initiative designed to accelerate the region’s transition to clean energy; and commitment to the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA), which was announced during the 2022 Tokyo Quad Leaders’ Summit. Specifically, the IPMDA intends to enhance maritime surveillance, information sharing, and cooperation to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment. Finally, the broadening of the vaccine partnership between Quad countries during the Covid-19 pandemic into a wider Quad Health Security Partnership, focusing on strengthening health security in the Indo-Pacific region, reflects a regional health security approach. The recent meeting of senior military commanders from Quad countries in California signalled a rebalancing that may well be underway within the Quad.
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Vivek Mishra is a Fellow with ORF’s Strategic Studies Programme. His research interests include America in the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific and Asia-Pacific regions, particularly ...Read More +