International alliances and partnerships based on shared economic and political interests have always been the norm. However, more intense situations have also resulted in military and defence coalitions among nation-states.
Nations today are watchful about their partners and allies. Therefore, engaging in straightforward military coalitions can create perceptions of a threat that is not preferable in today’s global order.
To circumvent this, strategists and policymakers in the 21st century have emphasized a new form of partnership and alliance among the international actors called the “Strategic partnership.
WHAT IS A STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
According to Anna Michalski, strategic partnership is “a specific form of bilateral relations between states and between states non-state actors, which through their presence shapes the social structures of the international system and provides venues for bilateral interaction and the realization of international roles.”
In today’s scenario, most strategic partnerships involve economic, cultural, education, space, and maritime cooperation. Nevertheless, these strategic partnerships act as an essential tool for military negotiations and cooperation among various countries in hindsight.
WHAT IS QUAD
The QUAD or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) is the informal strategic dialogue between the USA, Japan, India, and Australia to promote peace by supporting a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
QUAD was the brainchild of Japan’s Prime Minister, Mr Shinzo Abe, who first mooted it in 2007, but it was on the back burner for 12 years.
Its inception witnessed delay due to not offending China and Russia in their respective spheres of influence in the Indo-Pacific and the Pacific Ocean. All of this made sense when seen from the perspective of Chinese export and economic prowess. Many nations did not want to irk the dragon and continue witnessing good trade relations.
One may ask now, why was there a need to establish such a security dialogue or informal group of such powerful economies in the Indo-pacific region. The answer is simple, rising economic, military, infrastructure, production, and political dominance led China to pursue its “Grand Strategy”.
CHINA AS THE CENTREPIECE?
This rising hegemony and prowess of China and its influence on other nation-states in the Indo-Pacific region, such as Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan, etc., created an imminent threat to the power exercised by western forces in the Indo-Pacific region.
According to a report published by RAND, an American think tank in 2017. Stating that over the next five to 15 years, if the US and PLA forces remain on roughly current trajectories, Asia will witness a progressively receding frontier of the US dominance”.
Many strategists have pointed out that the reason for such apprehensions is evident on the face of it. From China’s dismissal of arbitral award on the South China sea, the nine-dash line controversy, it is establishing overseas bases and ports to its continuous intimidation of its neighbour on the maritime dispute.
Thus, China also presents a threat to the rule-based order of established UNCLOS or the sea law. To which QUAD aims at maintaining compliance and fostering respect for such rule-based international order.
The QUAD spokesperson has always denied itself as a military alliance and group targeting China. On the contrary, China has continuously expressed QUAD as a tool to coerce and intimidate it from protecting its sovereignty.
Therefore, in the scenario of rising tensions and apprehensions, QUAD grouping needs to declare its aim and objective to promote economic and security interests in the region. Despite being an informal group, having a clear mandate will also help the other partner nations to identify their responsibilities.
Moreover, the QUAD group should expand its membership to other strategic partners in the Indo-Pacific like Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Involving these nations in maintaining peace and security in the region will also act as a deterrent to illegal activities in the area and help ease China’s anxiety.