Analysis of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD)

Quad Law Insider

By Mohammed Asif

Published On: February 26, 2022 at 13:18 IST


Quadrilateral security Dialogue is a strategic security dialogue between the United States, India, Japan and Australia whose objective is to secure a rules-based global order, freedom of navigation and a liberal trading system.

This also aims to offer alternative debt financing for nations in the Indo-Pacific region.

What is QUAD?

QUAD is an informal strategic dialogue for democracies. India, United States, Japan, and Australia in the world map will form a quadrilateral.

Basically, it is a closed two dimensional shape which has four straight sides.

The objective of this coalition is to secure the Indo-Pacific region from Chinese expansion policy.

The idea behind this grouping was first proposed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007 but it did not move ahead because Australia pulled out due to Chinese pressure.

After 13 years, which is in 2020, India, US, Australia and Japan turned this idea to reality and gave shape to the long pending QUAD collision.

Australia joined the Malabar exercise after an invitation from India making it the first time all members of the QUAD will be engaged militarily this year due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic for which  China has been heavily criticized.

China-Australia relations started declining because of the mishandling of Covid-19. India capitalized on this and sent an invitation to Australia to join the QUAD.

In 2014, the Australian Prime Minister and Chinese President described the country’s relationship as a comprehensive strategic partnership whereas in 2020 relation started declining after the outbreak of the pandemic.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the Origins of Covid-19 which was first detected in China.

History of QUAD

The Dragon designs have jeopardized security in the Indo-Pacific. China has refused to respect internationally accepted Maritime laws, challenged the rules-based order and claims some islands and basically China has become a threat to peace in the Indo-Pacific which is where the QUAD comes in.

Its prime objective is to contain China. The QUAD started as an ad-hoc body in 2004. This was after the Indian Ocean Tsunami where more than 2 lakh people died across 14 countries. It was one of the most fatal natural disasters in history.

India, United States, Japan and Australia came together to form the tsunami core group and these four countries contributed over 40,000 troops, humanitarian responders, dozens of helicopters, cargo ships and transport planes.

The group of four worked towards tsunami relief and reconstruction. The group did not show any communiqué or create a secretariat and when its purpose was solved, the group was dissolved.

In 2006 inspired by the success of the Quadrilateral template, former President of Japan Shinzo Abe proposed an arc of freedom and prosperity and a group which means to promote freedom and the rule of law.

And then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Tokyo where India and Japan issued a statement and the two countries expressed their eagerness to begin a dialogue with like-minded countries in the Asia Pacific region.

What is the objective of QUAD?

There many critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific region, even Chinese are aware of, and they have always tried to extend their influence in this region which is part of the global expansion policy.

So, the objective of QUAD is to develop new strategies to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific region free of any Chinese influence.

And as four big nations are part of it, the Chinese criticize it and they called it as an Asian version of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty organization) which was formed in 1949 to provide collective security against the threat posed by the Soviet Union in the Northern Atlantic region.

After the disintegrationn of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has signed several important agreements with NATO and there is even a Russia NATO Council that handles security issues and joint projects

Timeline of QUAD

  • In 2007, US Vice President Dick Cheney signalled interest in QUAD dialogue.
  • In April 2007, Shinzo Abe visited India and after one month the first meeting of the initial Quad was held which was on the side-lines of the Asian Regional Forum in Manila[1].
  • In September 2007, Japan and Australia adjoined the US-India Malabar exercises.
  • In 2016, India and the US have signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). And also, India and Japan had signed the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with Japan and permanently joined the Malabar exercises.
  • In 2017, when Shinzo Abe returned to power in Japan, he wasted no time in calling for a Democratic Security Diamond aka QUAD 2.O.
  • In November 2017, representatives from four countries met in Manila.
  • Foreign ministers with QUAD met thrice between 2019 to 2021 and then on March 12th, which was a landmark Summit where the leadership of India, the United States and Australia met virtually.
  • The Summit’s main agenda was on development, Covid-19 vaccination cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, climate change, and technology and chain management.
  • They even released a first joint statement and they called it “The spirit of QUAD[2]”.

What is Malabar Naval Exercise?

In 1992, the Malabar Naval Exercise was initiated between the Indian Navy and the US Navy, which was then a bilateral naval drill in the Indian Ocean.

On October 6, the four countries held a foreign minister’s level conference in Japan which was followed by India and the US on October 26, 27 in New Delhi, as a result, the Malabar exercise began on November 03, 2020.

Malabar Naval Exercise is a three-day joint naval exercise of these four countries in the Bay of Bengal. The second phase of the Malabar exercise will be held in the Arabian Sea which will be another three day naval drill.

Australia and Japan became partners later on. As Australia drifted away Japan became a permanent member of this naval exercise in 2015.

Malabar exercise is the 24th edition of the QUAD’s Joint Naval exercise. From the past two years Malabar exercise drills were conducted in the Philippines seas and off the Japanese Coast.

China has always viewed the Malabar exercise with intuition. As we know China has turned into a global expansionist, it views every regional and strategic grouping as a challenge to its expansion program.

The following are some of the Indian, Australian, United States and Japanese main naval attractions which will take part in the Malabar Naval Exercise:

Indian Navy-

  • INS Ran Vijay
  • Frigate Shivalik
  • Hawk MK 132
  • INS Shakti fleet support ship
  • Dornier patrol aircraft
  • P-81 Patrol aircraft
  • INS Sindhu raj Submarine

US Navy-

  • USS John S McCain
  • Guided missile destroyer

Australian Navy-

  • Frigate HMAS Ballarat
  • MH-60 Helicopter

Japan Navy-

  • JS Onami

What this Alliance means for India?

  • The territorial conflict between India and China near the Himalayan region has been going on since 1962.
  • The areas like Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Nepal border, Doklam in Sikkim, then Arunachal Pradesh and in many other places the Chinese have always caused a problem for Indians.
  • China is the world’s largest manufacturing economy and exporter of goods which means that they heavily depend on trade.
  • A huge chunk of Chinese trade happens via the Indian Oceanic roots. So, the only way to control the Chinese is on water because on Land, China with the help of Pakistan causes a lot of problems for India. But in the sea, with the help of Australia, Japan and the US, India can potentially disrupt Chinese trade and set a clear message to the Chinese.
  • Moreover, this coalition can help India in taking collective action in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  • The QUAD can also work together in monitoring shipping vessels for Search and rescue or anti-piracy operations.
  • The QUAD can also provide infrastructure assistance to climatically vulnerable states during cyclones and typhoons.
  • India is located right in the center of the Indo-pacific geopolitical region.
  • If in future any such situation comes where India needs to be a facilitator towards creating a vision for many surrounding Asian countries, then India can very well lead with the necessary leadership experiences.
  • It can obtain a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council with the assistance of the QUAD.
  • It can upgrade its defence manufacturing technology.
  • It can become a major blue economy.
  • India can seek economic cooperation and become ATMANIRBHAR and shape the changing world order.

Can QUAD be effective against Chinese Aggression?

Militarily speaking it is far more powerful. If we look at the numbers, China’s military personnel is 3.36 million whereas the QUAD is 7.78 million. This is after taking into account the active personal, the Reserve and the Paramilitary.

If we consider just the active personnel China has 2.19 million and the QUAD 2.93 million but war does not always have to be fought militarily, trade and commerce today are just as effective.

Three out of four QUAD countries have already banned Chinese telecom giant Huawei from the 5G race. Huawei was supposed to be China’s stairway to tech dominance.

India has banned nearly 220 Chinese apps. The ban on Tik Tok alone was expected to cause China six billion dollars and these small steps have a big cumulative impact.

The four member countries are determined to beat China’s vaccine diplomacy. During the dialogue the QUAD members spoke about Covid-19 vaccines. They promise to deliver 1 billion doses to the Indo-Pacific by 2022.

China has also engaged India in the Doklam standoff, ticked off Japan by increasing Coast Guard activity near the Senkaku Island, bribed several Australian politicians and was caught doing so[3].

China wants to buy Global support through vaccine diplomacy to which the QUAD is countering.

The QUAD is pooling in America’s Technology, Japanese Finance, India’s production capacity and Australia’s Logistic capability.

The QUAD is also focusing on New Age Technology.

Criticism of QUAD by China

Under Xi Jinping, China is more aggressive than ever. China became uncomfortable and was concerned about QUAD. It called QUAD as an “Asian NATO” after that protest and hesitations followed by the Chinese government.

Zaho Lijian the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign ministry said “We hope that relevant countries will keep in mind common interests of the regional countries and uphold the principal and do things for Regional peace, stability and prosperity rather than the opposite

Global Times, Chinese State Mouthpiece has said that “The fundamental reasons for these four countries to unite are not because of their so-called democratic values but geopolitics. They are unwilling to see China’s Rise and afraid of China’s strength[4]


QUAD cannot reduce itself to being an Anti- China grouping.

The challenge before the QUAD is to get China to behave itself without fighting it militarily. The nations in the Quad grouping have different aims at stabilizing their own intrigues.

So, consistency in the vision of the QUAD as a cluster is not present. Hence QUAD should emphasize on making a robust territorial consultation mechanism and harmonize them with ASEAN nations on issues of regional necessity.

Edited by: Tanvi Mahajan, Publisher, Law Insider


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