The Quad (US, Japan, India, Australia Security Dialogue) : Updates and Discussions

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Intelligence at the heart of Washington's response to Beijing in the Indo-Pacific

The vast bill targeting Beijing calls on the United States to strengthen trilateral intelligence sharing with Japan and Australia. It must first be voted by the Senate committee. This at a time when Europe is considering its presence in the Indo-Pacific.

Entitled the "Strategic Competition Act of 2021", the new bipartisan strategy to contain China calls for ever-closer US ties with Japan, Australia and India, notably through the political weapon of intelligence sharing. The bill was introduced earlier this month by two senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - Democrat Bob Menendez and Republican Jim Risch - and passed the committee on April 21.

The text calls for the expansion of cooperation projects with these three countries, which together with the United States make up the Quad, particularly in the areas of cybersecurity and maritime security, but also in military exercises. The Quad countries, along with France, conducted naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal in early April.

Washington also wants to increase the number of defence agreements with Japan and Australia and to greatly strengthen trilateral intelligence sharing. The bill also proposes to deepen security projects with India and to establish a Japan-U.S. fund dedicated to technologies useful for security and defense. These initiatives should come in parallel with the increase in the number of U.S. defense attachés in Indo-Pacific countries and the establishment by the Pentagon of an inter-agency task force to combat hybrid operations combining military deployment, cyber and information space that Beijing may want to launch in the region.

At the same time, Washington is seeking to politicize the Five Eyes alliance (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada) in order to turn more of its antennae directly towards Beijing, which is causing a stir within the alliance itself. Wellington wants to keep its margins of maneuver in the face of this posture perceived as too aggressive. For the same reasons, on the other hand, Japan is knocking on the door of the SIGINT alliance to join it. Tokyo is already one of the main countries benefiting from American intelligence sharing in the region, along with Seoul.

ASEAN, soon to be a beneficiary of US intelligence

As a second curtain, the United States wants to work more with the Philippines and Thailand on cyber, space and intelligence. The text also calls for intelligence sharing and monitoring of Chinese investments in local strategic infrastructure with the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This comes as U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga indicated on April 16 their willingness to collaborate on 5G, in an effort to curb the growing presence of Chinese giant Huawei in international markets. Huawei already operates several major infrastructure contracts in South Asian countries.

The Senate bill is a response to the posture of the White House, where the issue is being handled by Indo-Pacific Policy Coordinator at the National Security Council (NSC) Kurt Campbell.

More interagency exchanges

Among the initiatives in the text - including a $100 million program to secure international telecommunications networks and a $75 million program to develop infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific - is the "Countering Chinese Communist Party Malign Influence Act" aimed at countering Beijing's influence operations. This project, which would have a budget of $300 million, should see, among other things, an increase in exchanges between the State Department's Global Engagement Center (GEC), which is responsible for fighting disinformation, and other services, in particular the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which is under the supervision of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

Towards a European Indo-Pacific strategy?

The bill comes at a time when the European Union (EU) is also considering its presence in the Indo-Pacific. While France remains a maritime power in the zone - and is also seeking to establish its own cooperation projects with New Delhi, Tokyo and Canberra - it is also pushing for a continental strategy. A preliminary text on this subject published on April 19 by the European Council envisages a "significant" naval presence in the area as well as the strengthening of partnerships in terms of maritime security, cyber, disinformation and 5G.

Such a European strategy is much desired by Paris, the first European country to formalize its Indo-Pacific strategy, back in 2018. Germany and the Netherlands followed with their own plans for the region in 2020.
 
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randomradio

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This is a very welcome move. Should have been done 5 years ago.


Japan does not decide its defense budget worrying about its size relative to GDP, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told Nikkei in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

“We must increase our defense capabilities at a radically different pace than in the past,” considering China’s increased capabilities, as well as new areas of warfare such as space, cyber and electromagnetics, Kishi said.

The statement signals that Japan is ready to do away with its long-standing 1% GDP ceiling for annual defense spending, and reflects the country’s intent to bolster its own national defense capabilities, as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga promised U.S. President Joe Biden last month.

"The security environment surrounding Japan is changing rapidly with heightened uncertainty," Kishi said.

"We will properly allocate the funding we need to protect our nation" without considering outlays in relation to GDP, he said.

The decision comes a month after Japan pledged to "bolster its own national defense capabilities to further strengthen the alliance and regional security" in a joint statement released after the Biden-Suga summit at the White House.

It also comes amid repeated incursions by China's now quasi-military coast guard into the waters around the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, which China claims and calls the Diaoyu.

The East China Sea islands sit just 170 km from Taiwan and could quickly be engulfed in a Taiwan Strait conflict.

On specific areas of bolstering Japan's national defense, Kishi mentioned strengthening capabilities on the Nansei Islands.


The Nansei Island chain stretches from the southernmost tip of Kyushu to the north of Taiwan and consists of small islands such as Osumi, Tokara, Amami, Okinawa, Miyako and Yaeyama. Last month, the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and five escort vessels passed through the Miyako Strait, a 250 km-wide waterway between Okinawa and Miyako, before heading south to Taiwan.

The islands are seen as crucial in the defense of the Senkakus.

"There should not be any areas not covered by the Self-Defense Forces," Kishi said. "It is very important to deploy units to the island areas."

Kishi also expressed an intention to add a third unit to the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, based in Sasebo, Nagasaki.

"We will strengthen new areas such as space, cyber and electromagnetic warfare," Kishi said. "Technological innovation is advancing at a tremendous pace and the nature of fighting is changing."

On regional security cooperation via the Quad -- a loose alliance among the U.S., Japan, India and Australia -- Kishi said he is in favor of a "Quad defense ministers meeting."

Since the 1990s, the only year that Japan's defense spending exceeded 1% of GDP was fiscal 2010, when GDP plummeted after the global financial crisis. The country's defense budget has grown for nine straight years through fiscal 2021 but has remained below 1% of GDP.

That could change in fiscal 2021 if GDP drops again amid the coronavirus pandemic. Spending for fiscal 2020 came to 0.997% of fiscal 2020 GDP based on preliminary data announced Tuesday, and the budget for fiscal 2021 rose 0.5% to 5.34 trillion yen.

Intentionally crossing the 1% line would mark a turning point for Japan's security policy, and is likely to draw pushback from China.

As Beijing has grown more assertive, the U.S. has encouraged Japan to bolster not only the alliance's defense capabilities, but its own as well. The previous U.S. administration, under then-President Donald Trump, urged allies including Tokyo to spend at least 2% of GDP on defense.

The military balance between Japan and China has "leaned heavily toward China in recent years, and the gap has been growing by the year," Kishi said.

Inflation-adjusted global military expenditures rose 2.6% last year to a record $1.98 trillion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The data shows a particular uptrend in Southeast Asia amid concern about China's maritime forays, with defense spending rising even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Kishi said the government continues to discuss whether Japan should develop the capability to strike enemy bases in response to an imminent missile launch. "There's an awareness that just improving our interception capabilities may not really be enough to protect the public," he said.

He noted that focusing on interception will become more costly as missiles improve.

On the question of whether Japan and the U.S. intend to revise their defense guidelines with an eye toward a potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait, Kishi said that while there are no plans to do so at this time, "we'll need to adjust to changes in the situation and make changes as needed."
 

RISING SUN

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How to leverage the Quad to counter China’s Digital Sinosphere​

China’s growing ambition to recode the rules of cyberspace should serve as a wake-up call for the Indo-Pacific’s leading digital democracies: Cooperate on technology or risk ceding ground to Beijing and its expanding digital sphere of influence.


At the historic Quad summit held in March, leaders of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia took important steps to bolster tech cooperation. Foremost among these efforts was the creation of a new Quad working group on critical and emerging technologies, which will drive coordination on standards, encourage diversification of equipment suppliers and future telecommunications technology (particularly 5G), and convene regular dialogues on critical-technology supply chains. Although China was not specifically referenced in this context, the cause célèbre is quite clear: anxiety about China’s growing digital adventurism.


While the unity on display at the Quad summit was an impressive show of strength, it was also an incomplete picture that masked growing friction among members on several elemental technology issues such as cross-border data flows, data privacy, payments, digital taxation, competition, e-commerce, and law enforcement.


For its part, India has pointedly rejected Japan’s “data free flow with trust” formulation for cross-border data transfers and championed expansive data-localization restrictions through its forthcoming data-privacy legislation. The United States has frequently clashed with India on digital-trade and online-freedom issues and has taken steps to levy tariffs on New Delhi in response to the Modi government’s digital taxes. More recently, Australia has engaged in a high-stakes showdown with US social-media companies over its “pay-for-news” law, which resulted in Facebook temporarily pulling all news content from its platform in Australia.


For the national-security community, it may be tempting to sideline these digital-trade battles as commercial irritants that distract from cooperation on strategic-technology issues. Yet this would be a mistake. If the Quad is to reach its full potential in technology cooperation, its members must find ways to tap into the full power of the private sector.


To see why, consider how strategic-technology innovation takes place in the modern era. Efforts to develop strategic-technology capabilities today are less Manhattan Project than Menlo Park; private-sector firms big and small, rather than governments, push the boundaries of innovation and develop technologies with commercial applications and a strategic valence. Innovations in dual-use technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced robotics are important examples; they emerge from commercial imperatives, but they produce national-security applications that deliver strategic benefits.


Pure market dynamics can also create and amplify strategic risks to Quad members. The concerns over TikTok’s global growth are a case in point. While the app’s privacy approach allows invasive collection of data at the individual level, its global popularity magnifies the scale and impact of those risks and gives them salience as a national-security threat. If Quad policymakers accept that TikTok or other Chinese firms pose strategic risk, then the need to check their growth and market share should follow logically.


Over the past four years, members of the Quad have understood this imperative and sought to curb the growth of Chinese firms using policy instruments. New Delhi has banned TikTok and nearly 270 other Chinese apps. The United States, Australia, Japan, and India have all either formally banned Huawei or excluded the company from participating in 5G trials. Restrictions on inbound Chinese foreign direct investment and outbound investment in Chinese firms are also starting to take root among Quad members, especially India and the United States.


Though bans and investment restrictions are powerful, they are limited in scope. Countering a “Digital Sinosphere” on a global basis will require getting the world’s netizens to choose non-Chinese platforms at scale.


This is fundamentally a question about competition and power in the global digital economy. And here, the strategic imperatives facing the Quad collide with the economic goals and sensitivities of individual members. Quad countries agree on the need to find alternatives to Chinese platforms, but they also want their own firms to reap the commercial benefits of displacing Chinese companies. This is especially true in India—home to the most internet users of any democracy—where leaders are seeking to build up a domestic tech ecosystem that breaks reliance not just on Chinese platforms but also on US companies such as Amazon or Facebook that hold significant market share in e-commerce, payments, and messaging.


There are no simple solutions to resolve these tensions. But the way forward requires the Quad and its leaders to think expansively about technology cooperation and be more attuned to digital-trade challenges that are generating friction among members. While the Quad countries have not collectively engaged in dialogue on these issues, past bilateral agreements could provide a starting point. Still, collaboration won’t be easy.


Three of the partners—Australia, Japan, and the United States—have long histories of cooperation and negotiation on tech issues. In 1998, the United States and Japan penned a joint statement of principles governing electronic commerce. These included provisions on data flows, protection, and privacy. Each of the three has signed a bilateral free-trade agreement with the others (although the Japan-United States deal is a “Phase 1” agreement) that includes more extensive provisions on electronic commerce and digital trade. All three of these countries are also participating actively in “plurilateral” negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO).


India, on the other hand, has no similar bilateral agreements in place. Its free-trade agreement with Japan has an annex on telecommunications services, although it deals primarily with public telecommunications networks, interconnection, and other market-access issues. Perhaps the most striking example of disagreement among the Quad is that India has actively objected to WTO negotiations. Along with South Africa, India argues that these negotiations and others like them violate WTO rules and principles by not involving all members, even as it refuses to participate.


Thus, the starting point for Quad cooperation should be modest and realistic, seeking incremental outcomes but with some sense of urgency given the high stakes. We offer the following recommendations:


  • A strong first step would be expanding the scope of the Quad working group on critical and emerging technologies to cover the wide array of digital issues, including data governance and law-enforcement cooperation. More broadly, a Quad economic dialogue led by foreign ministers and trade ministers could also serve as a useful forum to drive greater alignment on critical digital issues such as cross-border data flows, data protection, and digital commerce.

  • This group could focus this initial work on surveying existing digital agreements between individual Quad partners, recognizing that most do not include India. India should have an opportunity to express its views on these approaches and how they might differ from its emergent regulatory policies.

  • The next step should involve a Quad effort to develop a set of principles on digital-trade governance. This could be an iterative process that evolves over time: core principles, updated and elaborated principles in specific areas such as data flows and data privacy, and eventually a full-blown framework of Quad principles on digital trade.

  • The group should interact with CEOs of leading tech companies from each country, which would create opportunities to align on thorny digital issues and help build common solutions to shared concerns.

We are convinced that the Quad should be a critical forum for advancing a united front on digital issues, and that resolving the commercial tensions among member countries can unlock the full strategic benefits of this partnership. Pursuing convergence on commercial digital issues is vital to countering Beijing’s Digital Sinosphere. In the post-COVID-19 era, the need for greater cooperation between government and corporate technology leaders has never been more clear.


Mark Linscott is a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. Prior to joining the Atlantic Council, he was the assistant US trade representative for South and Central Asian Affairs from December 2016 to December 2018 and assistant US trade representative for WTO and Multilateral Affairs from 2012 to 2016.


Anand Raghuraman is a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center and a vice president at The Asia Group, where he advises leading companies operating in South Asia across the internet, e-commerce, social-media, fintech, and financial-services sectors.
 

RISING SUN

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Beijing’s Quad Quandary: Why China Fears Losing Bangladesh​

On May 12, in a sharp rebuke to Bangladesh, Beijing’s representative to Dhaka, Li Jiming, warned Bangladesh that their bilateral ties would undergo “substantial damage” if Dhaka joins or backs the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad). Comprising India, Japan, the United States, and Australia, the Quad has quickly become a key grouping in the Indo-Pacific that promotes a shared vision of a rules-based order and seeks to manage (if not counter) Chinese belligerence. Beijing has been overtly critical of the grouping as an “exclusive clique” reminiscent of “cold war politics” being led by the United States in an attempt to contain China. The tone of Li Jiming’s remarks vis-à-vis Bangladesh’s ascension to the framework is, therefore, not out of character.


Yet, the assertion comes as a rather premature statement, considering there has been little indication of such a development. With China’s reactions to geopolitical events rarely made public through official statements (unless Beijing is directly linked to the dispute), Li Jiming’s remarks come as an insight into China’s concerns over the Quad’s growing sphere of influence. Why is Beijing concerned over Bangladesh’s involvement with the Quad? How would such a development challenge China’s strategic designs in the region?

Bangladesh forms a critical part of China’s strategic focus on South Asia; Beijing and Dhaka share over forty-five years of diplomatic ties which have grown exponentially into a “long-term friendship.” The bilateral relationship became a “strategic, cooperative partnership” post-Bangladesh’s inclusion in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2016 which has resulted in several projects. Bangladesh’s importance in China’s South Asian strategy was also visible in Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe’s visit to Dhaka to further military and defense ties and further unite against “powers outside the region setting up military alliance.”

A COVID Quandary?
Dhaka, for its part, has sought a geopolitical balance between India and China driven by its national interests. For example, although it has been a prime recipient of Indian-manufactured vaccines, uncertainties of vaccine supply amid a worsening pandemic situation in India caused Bangladesh to deepen cooperation with Beijing. In April 2021, Dhaka joined a China-led foreign ministerial-level initiative to tackle Covid-19, alongside South Asian states Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This follows previous Chinese aid to Bangladesh, including a gift of 50,000 vaccine doses, as part of its Health Silk Road (HSR) outreach. As a small power state between two great regional powers, Bangladesh has sought to hedge between India and China —like with the Teesta River issue. When Delhi-Dhaka water-sharing negotiations largely failed, Bangladesh turned to China to secure a $1 billion engineering project.


Despite such strong China-Bangladesh ties, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen reacted sharply to China’s comments on a “Bangladesh plus Quad,” making it clear that as an “independent and sovereign state,” Dhaka has the right to decide its foreign policy along the lines of its own national interests. Concurrently, he also clarified that neither of the Quad states—comprising Australia, India, Japan, and the United States—have reached out to Dhaka asking it to be a part of the framework; China’s reaction has hence been “unexpected.”

China’s premature remarks draw from its fears of losing its political clout in Dhaka, fueled by concerns of continued synergy in Bangladesh-India and Bangladesh-Japan ties, which have been growing despite the China variable. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in March 2021—wherein he was honored as the chief guest for celebrations of Bangladesh’s fiftieth anniversary of independence—highlighted such continued solidarity between Delhi and Dhaka. Notably, Delhi and Dhaka finalized five memoranda of understandings pertaining to the Teesta River, alongside a $1 billion credit line for its Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant project. In other words, Beijing is deeply unsettled that a “Quad plus Bangladesh” could inherently challenge China’s strategic outreach in South Asia and act as a catalyst for a new trend in the region by effectively enabling the Quad’s expansion. As India and China increasingly compete for influence, Bangladesh’s induction in the Quad framework would signal its firm alignments with India and the United States.
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Influence of BRI Receding?

The creation of a “Bangladesh plus Quad” mechanism would also pose a critical challenge to China’s BRI activities in the region, which have already been somewhat stagnant since the onset of the pandemic. Despite China’s continued attempts via the HSR to reclaim its global image, local authorities in Bangladesh have begun to question the practicality and viability of BRI projects when the country is already hit hard economically. Still, Chinese aid remains vital to filling Bangladesh’s massive infrastructure and developmental needs. Since 2016, China has committed around $1.4 billion in loans and disbursed around $880 million approximately. It is also Bangladesh’s largest foreign direct investment (FDI) source ($1.159 billion in fiscal year 2018-19), with particularly massive investments in its energy sector.

Nevertheless, Bangladesh is well aware that Chinese aid and loans are designed to expand Beijing’s influence and tilt the regional power balance. They aim to cast a shadow over Bangladesh’s historically-rooted ties with India and threaten New Delhi’s position as Dhaka’s leading partner. India’s opposition to the BRI, as well as prominent examples of China’s “debt trap” diplomacy under the initiative, have given Dhaka reason to pause and move more cautiously in its reliance on Beijing. The case of Hambantota port in Sri Lanka has been a massive source of concern; Bangladesh’s caution is evident in the halted Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor, which proposes to connect eastern/southern China (Yunnan) to South Asia. Although initially recognized as a central pilot project under the BRI—with a focus on trade, transport, and tourism—the BCIM has been consistently challenged and repeatedly delayed. In April 2019, it was entirely omitted from the list of undertakings under the BRI umbrella, and although it was later revived in June 2019, its future remains highly uncertain amid India-China tensions and the changing geopolitical and geo-economic environment in the region.

Tokyo’s Rise in the Bay of Bengal
Importantly, Bangladesh has also emerged as a major focus on India-Japan third country cooperation. Even as the future of BCIM remains uncertain, Japan’s Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure (EPQI) has grown with Tokyo becoming one of the most important development partners of both South Asian and Southeast Asian states. Via EPQI, Japan has also implemented an “India-plus” approach towards South Asia, building on the robust India-Japan partnership to further EPQI across South Asia.

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has termed Bangladesh as the “intersection between India and ASEAN”; here, Japan’s investment in India’s northeastern region is poised to play a major role in linking the same to Myanmar and Bangladesh via projects like the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Corridor. This also links to India’s leadership role in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand (together with India constituting the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). For BIMSTEC, India’s northeast region is vital as it provides a link to South and Southeast Asia; Japan has become crucial to the region’s development with collaborative efforts between BIMSTEC states and Japan having immense potential for growth. BIMSTEC takes center-stage especially as Bangladesh’s importance to the Bay of Bengal (which it shares with India and Myanmar) grows, with India worried that deeper BRI integration with China could lead to a future where, under a “debt trap,” Bangladesh becomes a site of Chinese maritime ports. Notably, Japan finances the Matarbari port project in the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt, which forms an important strategic foothold to promote Japan (and the Quad’s) free, open, and secure Indo-Pacific vision.


With India’s outright rejection of the BRI and Myanmar’s internal crisis already posing as hindrances to the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor, Bangladesh remained the only active participant in the corridor. However, a “Bangladesh plus Quad” would all but ensure that the BCIM is no longer viable as Dhaka would likely seek deeper developmental partnerships with partners like India and Japan. Although Chinese aid is undoubtedly key for Bangladesh, it falls short of collective aid by other entities such as Japan, the Tokyo-led Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the International Development Association. From 2016-2018, these donors made the largest development finance commitments to Bangladesh with almost $17 billion combined. Japan and Bangladesh share long diplomatic ties; as both states gear up to celebrate fifty years of ties, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) pledged to continue supporting “infrastructure and social development sectors” through several mega projects in energy, education, and transport domains (among others). In other words, Japan’s prevailing outreach in Bangladesh is worrying Beijing for some time now, and the latest Chinese expression to warn Dhaka is a reflection of that.

Chinese aid, while substantial, is accompanied by political connotations and conditions; on the other hand, Japan and institutional partners like the ADB can offer equivalent aid on fairer and transparent terms, without debt trap concerns. Dhaka was pushed to accept Chinese financing amid the absence of Western aid (such as in the case of Padma bridge where the World Bank pulled out over corruption allegations). However, amidst the pandemic, Bangladesh has been witness to Chinese aggression and “wolf-warrior” style of diplomacy, and is, therefore, even more wary of Beijing’s growing influence in its internal matters. Li Jiming’s remarks on a “Bangladesh plus Quad” are a prime example of this. Under such conditions, China is concerned that its political clout in the country is under threat.

China’s warning to Bangladesh is, therefore, drawn staunchly on concerns over how such a development could hinder its South Asia policy and prove an advantage for India (including Japan) in their strategic competition. Not only could Dhaka be an important partner under mechanisms like the India-Japan-Australia-led Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, but also become a strategic partner to balance China, setting an example for other South Asian powers. Beijing is, therefore, wary that as the Quad becomes stronger, it will initiate dialogues with “plus” members and create a “Bangladesh plus Quad” in South Asia that severely undermines China’s rising influence.
 

BMD

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The EU is so stupid that if China launched a nuclear attack on them people would be on the streets campaigning to allow the warheads in.
 
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A Person

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Rather the EU has to militarise.
The EU is not a nation-state and therefore does not have a legitimacy to own a military. It's kind of like the UN: you can have military missions managed by the UN (Blue Helmets), but the UN itself doesn't have an army; instead it's troops contributed for the mission by member countries.
 

randomradio

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The EU is not a nation-state and therefore does not have a legitimacy to own a military. It's kind of like the UN: you can have military missions managed by the UN (Blue Helmets), but the UN itself doesn't have an army; instead it's troops contributed for the mission by member countries.

I'm just trying to say the countries in the EU should militarise, so specifically talking about UK, France, Germany etc.

For example, France should expand their carrier capabilities with 2 carriers instead of 1. And Germany, Italy and Spain should get 1 each with conventional propulsion. We will then see a combined 7 large carriers in the EU.

Doing such things will also give their own individual militaries the confidence to allow getting dragged into a US-China rivalry.

I'm expecting a 24/7 Chinese carrier presence in the North Atlantic in the long term. For them it's going to be a measley 3 carriers assigned to that part of the world.
 

RISING SUN

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U.S. Says Looking at Quad Meeting in Fall Focused on Infrastructure​

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States is looking to convene an in-person fall summit of leaders of the Quad countries - Australia, India and Japan - with a focus on infrastructure in the face of the challenge from China, President Joe Biden's Indo-Pacific policy coordinator said on Wednesday.


Kurt Campbell said other countries were welcome to work with the Quad, which held a first virtual summit in March and pledged to work closely on COVID-19 vaccines, climate and security.

"We want to look this fall to convene an in-person Quad and the hope will be to make a similar kind of engagement on infrastructure more generally," Campbell told an online event hosted by Stanford University.

"And I do want to underscore ... this is not a fancy club. If there are other countries that believe that they'd like to engage and work with us, the door will be open as we go forward," Campbell said.

The March Quad summit was carefully choreographed to counter China's growing influence and Biden and his fellow leaders pledged to work to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific in the face of challenges from Beijing.

They also agreed to hold an in-person summit this year. A White House official said it had yet to be decided where or exactly when the summit would be held.

Campbell said there was now a new set of strategic parameters when it came to China and "a period that had been broadly described as engagement has come to an end."

"The dominant paradigm is going to be competition. Our goal is to make that a stable, peaceful competition that brings out the best in us," he said, while cautioning: "There will likely be periods ahead, in which there will be moments of concern."

Campbell said the "operating system" the United States had helped build in Asia remained intact but was "under substantial strain" in the face of China's rise.

"It's going to need to be reinvigorated in a number of ways, not just by the United States, but other countries that use the operating system and that means Japan, that means South Korea, Australia, countries in Europe that want to do more in Asia and across the board."

Campbell said it was important for the United States to have a "positive economic vision of what it wants to contribute, what it wants to engage on in Asia."

"We can do everything right in Asia, but without an economic strategy, it's hard to be successful. That's what Asians are looking for as we go forward ... we're ambitious about the Quad."

Biden, who is pushing for big infrastructure spending at home, said in March he had suggested to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that democratic countries should have an infrastructure plan to rival China's Belt and Road Initiative.

Belt and Road is a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure scheme launched in 2013 by China's President Xi Jinping involving projects from East Asia to Europe and seen as a means of significantly expanding Beijing's economic and political influence.
 

RISING SUN

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QUAD call from Blinken to NATO

Before the 2021 NATO Leaders' Summit, the Foreign Ministers of the member countries met at the virtual summit. Making a statement after the summit, the United States (US) State Department said that Antony Blinken urged NATO members to deepen their cooperation with South Korea.

Referring to South Korea, the ministry said, “Foreign Minister Antony Blinken emphasized the importance of Alliance partnerships, including NATO-European Union (EU) cooperation. He encouraged NATO to deepen cooperation with Australia, Japan, New

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QUAD call from Blinken to NATO


  • June 4, 2021
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CRI Turkish Foreign News Service
Before the 2021 NATO Leaders' Summit, the Foreign Ministers of the member countries met at the virtual summit. Making a statement after the summit, the United States (US) State Department said that Antony Blinken urged NATO members to deepen their cooperation with South Korea.
Referring to South Korea, the ministry said, “Foreign Minister Antony Blinken emphasized the importance of Alliance partnerships, including NATO-European Union (EU) cooperation. He encouraged NATO to deepen cooperation with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.” made the statement.
The Joe Biden administration has repeatedly emphasized the importance of US allies in their growing rivalry with China, emphasizing the importance of working together for China and Russia. Blinken's request was viewed as a step in the Joe Biden administration's policy of "reviving the alliance".

IS THE CLOSED QUAD HIGHLIGHTED
There was a tacit call for support for the US Quadruple Security Dialogue (QUAD), which is interpreted as an attempt to control the People's Republic of China in the region. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue consists of Australia, Japan and India, led by the US. Asking for support for South Korea was considered an attempt to keep Seoul's desire to participate in QUAD, which was stated in the Joint Declaration of the US-South Korea Summit, on the agenda.South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Joe Biden had pledged to strengthen the alliance in response to "threats and challenges" in Washington on May 21. In their joint statements, the two leaders stressed that they will "collaborate on the vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific", recognizing "the importance of open, transparent and inclusive regional multilateralism, including QUAD." On the other hand, Moon will attend the G7 Summit on 11-13 June, which also includes the USA and Japan. Australia and India will be among the guests for the summit hosted by the UK.
 

A Person

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TRIBUNE. Australia, India and France are united in the Indo-Pacific
By Gillian Bird and Jawed

Ashraf Gillian Bird, Australian Ambassador to France, and Jawed Ashraf, Indian Ambassador to France, welcome in this forum the cooperation between these three countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

"For the first time, the foreign ministers of Australia, India and France met in a trilateral format on May 4 in London. This first meeting marks the commitment of our three countries to work closely to advance our shared vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, linked by safe seas and anchored in international law.

This meeting is the realization of the call launched by President Emmanuel Macron in Sydney in May 2018 for cooperation between India, Australia and France in the Indo-Pacific region, and aligns with the complementary visions from the region made by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Scott Morrison. The meeting of our three ministers could not have been better. The Indo-Pacific region is at the heart of historic issues of power, economic transition and technological upheaval. It is to this region that the center of gravity of global opportunities and challenges shifts.

The Indo-Pacific is the most populous region in the world. It represents over 60% of global GDP and a significant share of trade and investment. It is home to the fastest growing economies. But the most dynamic region in the world is also the theater of growing tensions, of growing desire for assertion and expansionism, of violations of international law, and of a questioning of the stability of the international order.

The Indo-Pacific region has the busiest international shipping lanes, a dense network of submarine cables, and a growing constellation of satellites in space. These assets face threats that will have consequences for global security and the economy. From unstable states to flourishing terrorist groups, from rising waters to natural disasters, from marine pollution to illegal fishing, this region faces many challenges in its immense diversity.

Our three countries each occupy a strategic position in the Indo-Pacific region. We are three democracies firmly committed to international law and multilateralism. Each of us brings a firm will and strong capacities to defend our interests. By working together, we can help meet the challenges of the region, enable small countries to make sovereign choices, ensure freedom of navigation and overflight, and advance the rule of law in the region.

And we got off to a good start. Since our governments launched the process in September 2020, our trilateral cooperation has been characterized by its momentum and an impressive array of initiatives. We will work for maritime safety and security, humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and to uphold international law, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. India and Australia joined the United States and Japan in the French-led naval exercise La Pérouse in the Indian Ocean.

We encourage the development of a sustainable blue economy, the conservation of maritime resources, the protection of the marine environment and the fight against illegal fishing. We will expand access to clean energy, disaster-resilient infrastructure, and healthcare in the region. In a spirit of multilateralism and inclusion, our cooperation will extend to other countries in the region and to regional and multilateral institutions. As future president of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium and member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, France will continue to assert its presence in the region.

In addition to the consequences on human lives, health systems and the economy, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to sharpen global competition and amplify tensions on the international order. It has never been so crucial for countries with shared values and interests to approach the future with determination and a common goal. Australia, India and France are committed to taking on this responsibility, in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. "​
 

RISING SUN

Senior member
Dec 3, 2017
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EXCLUSIVE: Biden not seeking to add countries to Quad to counter China​

Biden administration officials say they are not pushing to add other countries to the strategic U.S.-India-Japan-Australia “Quad” group but stress that the future of American policy in the Indo-Pacific region hinges on the deepening alignment among the four powerful democracies to counter authoritarian China’s increasingly aggressive rise on the world stage.

“The Quad is definitely going to be a central focus of overall U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific moving forward,” one senior administration official involved in the initiative told The Washington Times. The official said the White House is laying the groundwork for a first-of-its-kind, in-person “leader level” summit of Quad countries this year.


The comments coincide with mounting Chinese condemnation of the Quad amid speculation that the U.S. is seeking to establish an informal “Quad-plus” paradigm to generate strategic buy-in from smaller nations on China’s periphery, including South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and perhaps Vietnam.



Analysts say those and other nations are “in play” in the growing power competition between the U.S. and China. Several are already beholden to Beijing because of their dependence on Chinese trade. They must acquiesce when China orders them to stay silent about human rights abuses and military muscle-flexing.


Discussion about what a Quad-plus might look like has gained steam since the Biden administration signaled its intent to build on what began as a major strategic push by the Trump administration to link up with the Indo-Pacific’s most powerful democracies to counter China.




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Hawkish foreign policy experts described the Trump-era initiative as the beginning of an “Asian NATO.”


Chinese officials have bristled at the notion. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused the Trump administration of using the Quad “to trumpet the Cold War mentality and to stir up confrontation” aimed at maintaining the “dominance and hegemonic system of the United States,” the South China Morning Post reported.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said upon Mr. Biden’s arrival at the White House in January that U.S. efforts to rally the world against China risk a “new cold war.” Many in Washington believe such a conflict is already underway.


In interviews with The Times, two senior Biden administration officials steered clear of such terminology.



The officials were less than eager to be quoted on the record as framing the Quad as an initiative aimed specifically at containing China. However, they made clear on the condition of anonymity that establishing a pro-democracy security and legal bedrock for Indo-Pacific nations to lean on, even while they engage in heavy trade with China, is precisely what Mr. Biden hopes to achieve.


Sources close to the administration say the consensus inside the White House, even among the socialist-leaning left flank of Mr. Biden’s advisers, is that communist China must be countered. The advisers say engaging the Quad is the best way to give nations in the region somewhere to turn in the face of Beijing’s mounting economic and geopolitical power.


“The Biden administration has worked very hard to continue forward with and even deepen the momentum that was created for the Quad grouping during the Trump administration,” said Jacob Stokes, who served as a special adviser to Mr. Biden for Asia policy when Mr. Biden was vice president in the Obama administration.


“The Biden administration is so far being very intentional about trying to generate a situation in which future Quad activities and initiatives, involving the core nations — the U.S., Japan, Australia and India — can be plugged into by other countries in the region and around the world,” said Mr. Stokes, now at the Center for a New American Security. “The goal of this approach would be to provide a space for other countries to plug into given initiatives pretty seamlessly, whether it’s an initiative on vaccines, technology standards, quality infrastructure or even freedom of navigation and security issues.”


Andrew Scobell at the U.S. Institute of Peace agrees.



“The ball is now in the Biden administration’s court with regard to the Quad,” he said. “If the Biden administration is able to effectively build on what the Trump administration was beginning to do with this forum, then the Quad could become a more significant vehicle for a wide range of initiatives, including coordination among like-minded nations on efforts to counter China.”


Still, Mr. Scobell cautioned against “getting ahead of ourselves.”


“It’s fine to have other countries engage, but why not solidify and strengthen the basics of the Quad first before talking about Quad enlargement?” he said. “If the Quad is going to be sustained, it should be seen to have some successes or some accomplishments, whether agreements on economic cooperation or security cooperation. Such successes would underscore the value of the organization or the dialogue.


“Speaking of modest but notable successes, the optics of having an in-person meeting later this year would be a win for all involved,” Mr. Scobell said.


One senior administration official told The Times that “there are currently no plans to expand the Quad by adding additional countries.” Still, Mr. Biden’s top Asia policy adviser has openly sought to encourage other nations to “engage” with the Quad.


“This is not a fancy club,” Kurt Campbell, National Security Council coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs, told an online event hosted by Stanford University last month. “If there are other countries that believe that they’d like to engage and work with us, the door will be open as we go forward.”



At a virtual leader-level Quad summit in March, Mr. Biden and his counterparts pledged to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region in the face of increasingly brazen challenges from China. They also vowed to coordinate closely on COVID-19 vaccine and climate initiatives.


The upcoming in-person summit is slated to focus on pro-transparency infrastructure initiatives that could counter the billions of dollars China is pumping into economies worldwide through its Belt and Road system. U.S. officials describe Belt and Road as an opaque system with predatory loans.


Chinese resistance is likely to be fierce. Ahead of the March summit, Beijing signaled that it wouldn’t hesitate to exert economic pressure on core Quad members if they appeared to be eagerly rallying against China.


India, Australia and Japan all rely heavily on China for trade. China is ranked as the No. 1 trading partner for Australia and Japan and No. 2, behind the U.S., for India. In reference to the Quad’s expanding activities, China’s Communist Party-aligned Global Times ran a headline in February warning that “China can retaliate economically if red line crossed.”


It remains to be seen what that “red line” might be. The Quad countries have engaged in increasingly sophisticated joint naval exercises in the Indian Ocean. China has not responded directly but has ramped up its military aggression in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.


Replacing ASEAN?



The Quad could be integrated with existing regional security and economic institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Still, China has heavy economic influence over a widening slate of regional institutions, including ASEAN, which is notorious for being hampered by bureaucracy.


Some argue that Quad-ASEAN integration would only enhance Beijing’s ability to undermine the Quad as a democracy-based counterweight to China’s expanding regional power.


Mr. Stokes told The Times that the Biden administration believes ASEAN and other regional institutions will continue to be important but that the Quad has a chance to emerge unencumbered by bureaucratic and geopolitical constraints.


Of particular concern is that China uses economic pressure and leverage to persuade groups such as ASEAN to steer clear of collective policies that do not align with Beijing’s strategic initiatives. A goal of the Quad, he said, should be to create a platform less vulnerable to such pressure.


At the same time, Mr. Stokes said, the Biden administration knows “potential candidates for any ‘Quad-plus’ arrangement are all going to have political, strategic or economic obstacles to joining.”


“The administration does not want to be seen as pressuring these countries,” he said, “[but] does want to provide the foundation for a democracy and transparency-focused platform that can be relied upon in the future for dialogue among like-minded nations on a range of pressing issues.


“[The] Quad is not intended to be an Asian NATO, and it won’t be,” Mr. Stokes added. “But that doesn’t mean it won’t strengthen political and security deterrence toward China by inviting additional, like-minded countries to participate in a range of initiatives, even if they are not formal members.”


Mr. Scobell, meanwhile, said Beijing is eager to promote a narrative that the U.S. and other democracies are messy and divisive to the point of being unreliable as world leaders. He told The Times that the Quad counters that narrative because it “undergirds the idea that the world’s democracies could actually be aligned around strategic initiatives that transcend whatever domestic political fights those democracies may be going through at a particular moment.”


Mr. Scobell also said the Quad is about more than U.S.-Chinese competition.


“Having climate change as a high-profile issue that the Quad is a way to signal to China that this is not all about you,” he said. “That is an important message to send in order to make it clear to Beijing that the Quad and a future ‘Quad-plus’ is not only about countering China; it’s also about larger issues that democracies care about and are willing to work together to address.”