Ahead of Jaishankar trip, India is game to formalise Quad dialogue that ruffles China
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 familiar with the government’s thinking on the matter.
While China has tried to drive a wedge between the four countries by calling it an exclusive group and even reaching out to Japan for bilateral economic revival, the vision of Quad was best summed up by US Assistant Secretary of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell 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,” he said.
Much as China may attempt to put diplomatic pressure on the group, 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 world cannot afford the CCP model of economic development. In a series of tweets on October 3, Pompeo said that China irresponsibly exploits natural resources around the globe, threatening the world’s economy.
Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also made his preference clear as spoke to Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping after talking to US, Australia and Indian leadership in his first calls.
All the Quad countries have serious issues with China; India and Japan have territorial differences while Australia and the US are at the receiving end of Beijing’s trade wars.
It is understood that under the Quad critical technology rubric, the four ministers will discuss cooperation in 5G and 5G plus technologies as well as increase interoperability during military exercises in the Indo-Pacific.
India will also take a call on Australia’s participation in this year’s Malabar naval exercise in Bay of Bengal later this month, an official said.
The four foreign ministers will discuss the security environment in the region with India briefing the Quad partners about the stand-off with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Ladakh region. China has deployed nearly 50,000 troops in occupied Aksai China, Tibet and Xinjiang to put pressure on India to accede to its maximalist 1959 LAC line.
The Modi government has noted the Chinese statement on Ladakh and Kashmir since Article 370 was abrogated on August 5, 2019. It finds Beijing’s suggestion that New Delhi should stay away from the US and by implication, remain a regional power most patronising, arrogant and coming from a rising power that does not understand the civilizational ethos of India.