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Quad and Malabar Exercise

  Jun 27, 2020

Quad and Malabar Exercise

The foreign ministers of the Quad countries - India, US, Australia and Japan - met on the sidelines of the UNGA meeting on 27th September 2019.

What is Quad?

  • The Quadrilateral security dialogue or Quad was first mooted by the Japanese Prime Minister in 2007.
  • However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it, apparently due to Chinese pressure.
  • In November 2017, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending "Quad" Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence (especially China).

What is the significance of Quad? 

  • The group is seen as a regional counterweight to China and has only met at the Joint or Assistant Secretary level since 2017. The latest meeting is seen as an upgrade by at least three levels.
  • The Quad countries were “resolute” in their view of the centrality of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in South East Asia.
  • The notion of ASEAN centrality broadly refers to the group of countries being at the centre of security and strategic frameworks for the Asia-Pacific region.

What are the issues discussed?

  • The Ministers met to discuss cooperation on counter-terrorism, mentoring, assistance in disaster relief, airtime security, cooperation, development, finance and cybersecurity efforts etc.

What are the major concerns of the Quad countries regarding China?

  1. Australia is worried about China's growing interest in its land, infrastructure and politics and influence on its universities.
  2. In the last decade, Japan believes that China has tried to bully it on several territorial issues.
  3. China has border disputes with India. China is also blocking India’s path into the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  4. A weakened US sees the coalition as an opportunity to regain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
  5. India has been hesitant about the Quad, in part because it does not want to isolate China and because it has had a history of staying clear of security alliances.
  6. The US and Australia, concerned that China may be looking to establish a military base in the South Pacific that would extend its military reach toward the Americas, have been striving to build an alternative model to Beijing’s state-directed lending for infrastructure projects.

What is Malabar Exercise?

  • Members of the Quad, barring Australia, are currently engaged in the annual Malabar exercises – military exercises that started between India and the U.S. in 1994 and became trilateral (with Japan) in 2015.
  • India has not permitted Australia to participate in these exercises, concerned about what message it would send to China, which is wary of the exercise.