QUAD will reassure ASEAN nations as an alternative to China
QUAD the four-nation group which was formed primarily to checkmate China, has steered away from the security paradigms and is now more focused on economics, cyber security and education. The security aspects are now being taken care of by AUKUS, a tripartite agreement between Australia, U.K and the U.S.
India has always been wary of getting into any military alliance with the big powers. The same can be said about the ASEAN countries which are wary of China’s designs but don’t want to become a party to any tussle between the big powers and China.
The latest communiqué released after the QUAD meeting removes a lot of ambiguity and gives a clearer picture of the goals set for QUAD. The communiqué clearly negates the security aspects of the group. Instead, it focuses on providing a viable alternative to the BRI project initiated by China in over 163 countries.
The BRI initiative was a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, the initiative is facing opposition in many countries and has been hounded by corruption allegations. The smaller nations risk falling into a debt trap due to the stringent conditions attached with repayment of the debts.
In June the U.S. and the G7 announced a new initiative dubbed as the B3W or Build Back Better World to enable financial help to underdeveloped nations to develop their infrastructure. The world now has an alternative to the BRI with friendlier terms. The latest initiative by the G7 nations have upset the Chinese aims and a number of nations have cancelled the projects which was to be completed under the BRI initiative.
QUAD shifts focus from security to trade
The biggest QUAD takeaway for India is that it is not a military alliance and will negate the need to take sides. It will also be difficult for India to suddenly plug out the burgeoning trade relations with China. The QUAD aims are clearer now and its number one priority is the keep the Indo Pacific region free and open for trade.
The weaning away of the security angle from the QUAD agenda and generous praise of ASEAN will help win the heart and the soul of the countries within the group. QUAD will also reassure the nations in the region that they need not depend only on China and there is an option if not a better option available. The QUAD will also dissuade China from trying any adventure and focus on trade and other issues of the region.