Quad refers to the “quadrilateral security dialogue” between United States (US), Australia, Japan and India. This engagement dates back to 2004 when these four countries held a meeting regarding the “Humanitarian Assistance and disaster relief HA/DR” after the boxing day Indian ocean tsunami. It came into existence only after the joint naval exercises between quad and Singapore in 2007. China perceived QUAD as a ganging against its strategic objectives and motivations and hence retaliated. There were many reasons including china’s response for why quad 1.0 failed to accomplish what it was destined for. Yet again in 2017 four countries decided to create quad 2.0 with an ambition of “free and open Indo-pacific” and this time it was efficacious and is working in full essence till the time.
- Role of Australia in Asia Pacific under quad
In 2008 when quad 1.0 came to an end Australia was the first country to withdraw as the new government in Australia was pro-china. But efforts were made in 2017 to renegotiate this quadrilateral dialogue and this time Australia clearly countered the territorial ambitions of China being the part of it. Following are some of the key points when Australia was seen playing a significant role in Asia Pacific under Quad and this mainly highlights the economic, diplomatic, and military engagements:
- Australia along with japan signed many agreements related to the security cooperation in the Asian pacific region including agreements like Acquisition and Cross-servicing agreement (ACSA) signed in 2018 and Information and security agreement (ISA) agreed on 2017.
- In the case of diplomatic engagements, the main focus is policy coordination where Australia has actively been involved in different issues in the pacific region like maritime security, connectivity and multilateralism.
- In the information sector Australia has always been an ally of US and they have been cooperating since cold war but under quad Australia was never reluctant to contribute to the information sector. One example of this is Maritime domain awareness (MDA) between quad members in which Australia is actively involved in information sharing regarding maritime security.
- In order to ensure the maritime security in Asia pacific region, US-japan-Australia conducted multiple military exercises since 2004. The Australia-Japan-U.S. trilateral has coordinated capacity-building for the Philippines.
- In the sector of economic cooperation Australia is contributing a lot to the regional economic integration by being the partner to agreements like Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Trans-pacific partnership (TTP).
- In response to the china’s One belt one road initiative (OBOR), Australian prime minister announced its policy of “Pacific pivot” according to which Australia is going to fund $2billion for infrastructure and $1billion for small and medium sized business in the Asian pacific region more specifically in south Pacific.
- Recently Australia, japan and US are coming together through trilateral initiatives involving Australia’s DFAT and Export Finance and Insurance corporation (Eric) to promote regional connectivity.
The trend of supporting the liberal order which emerged after 1945 in now changing. Australia is of the view that there should be a “multipolar rule-based order” to operate international system where not only US but china and east Asian states can also contribute. This can pose a challenge to the future of Quad regarding the objectives of Australia in pacific region. Currently Australia is playing an important role in managing the balance of power in the Asian pacific region along with three other countries of quad and is being backed strongly by United States but it is uncertain that for how long this order is going to prevail. The failure of Quad in 2007 suggests that circumstances can change again if there is a little change in the interest of any quad member. Also, a pull-back to quad was when United States withdrew from the Trans-pacific partnership while japan and Australia remined partners to the treaty. Such actions by US can provoke other members to go under the influence of any other regional power to pursue their interests.
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