Absent from those statements was any mention of China. But it was the rise of the Asian economic and military superpower that led to the Quad’s revival in 2017 – and it is Beijing’s game of power that topped the four leaders of the night at the summit.
The Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is an informal strategic forum, consisting of semi-regular summits, information exchanges and military exercises. Not a formal military alliance like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but it can be seen by some as a growing Chinese influence and perceived invasion of the Asia-Pacific.
While members have emphasized more benign aspects of the relationship, such as recent cooperation on the epidemic of coronavirus virus, the ability of military entourage by Quad countries has gone unnoticed by Beijing.
And this is no surprise.
Davidson said that on Tuesday he hoped the organization could “do something bigger.”
He said, “Not just in terms of security, but how we can approach … important technologies like the global economy, telecommunications and 5G, cooperation on the international system. There is a lot more to be done diplomatically and economically.”
Four keys to the quad
On supply security, Hoover fellows argue that the industrial and manufacturing bases of the four big quad economies could be leveraged to offset the gains held by China in areas such as medical supplies and pharmaceuticals that some have been problematic during the pandemic .
On technology, Quad members need pool resources to provide information security and develop new systems that do not require Chinese hardware or software that may present security risks, he says.
And on diplomacy, Hoover peers say Japan, India, and Australia maintain greater influence and deeper ties with countries around the Indo-Pacific, which now yields America.
“Many countries in the region, particularly Southeast Asia, would welcome close cooperation among Quad members to balance against China’s power,” said Timothy Heath, senior analyst at the Rand Corp think tank.
However, none of this will be guaranteed. Remember, the first incarnation of the Quad broke and broke under pressure from China in 2007. China portrayed the organization as attempting to surround it and there is a possibility that Beijing could financially repel three US partners from any strong position.
If the quad now tries to rein in China, Beijing is expected to retaliate, experts say.
“This will lead to more tension with China with the possibility of economic retaliation against India, Australia and Japan,” Heath said.
Which could prove difficult for all three. For each, China is the largest trading partner.
Rest for beijing
But Rand analyst Heath points out that the quad is far from a united front. He said the rift between members could be a resting place for China.
“It remains an informal gathering, with very few institutional backbones. In that sense, the Quad is certainly not an ‘Asian NATO’,” he said, referring to the formal Western coalition that against the Soviet Union in the Cold War Stood fast. .
“Members of the Quad may share concerns about China and the need to maintain a rules-based order, but they lack consensus about what to do about China. Priorities differ between members. -Different, in which India is mostly focused on the Indian Ocean while Australia. Heath is more concerned about the South China Sea, ”said Heath.
And, to use a sports analogy, Beijing controls the tempo of the game right now, he said.
Heath said, “If China increases its military offensive against other countries, there is a possibility that the Quad may develop into a more robust military alliance.”
But as long as China survives the confrontation, experts believe this capability will remain small – a view shared by many in official Chinese circles.
James Griffiths of CNN contributed to this report.