QUAD to QUAD Plus
11. The option of QUAD growing into QUAD Plus with other countries from Europe and SE Asia participating shall be highly dependent on the accomplishment of the existing core team of QUAD. The effective implementation of a cohesive economic and military strategy by these nations shall surely encourage other regional countries to participate in the QUAD objective. The QUAD plus concept is catching up. India will be part of France-led exercises “La Pérouse” that will take place in early April this year in the Bay of Bengal. With the Indian Navy’s addition, all Quad member countries – US, Japan, and Australia will be part of France initiated joint naval exercise. This is a move aimed at projecting their dominance from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Straits.
12. Some still argue that the Quad cannot stay together, because the histories and agendas of the four partners are too different. However, this is a view of the past. The Quad cannot be viewed narrowly because in essence it carries a geopolitical agenda for the larger good of the Indo-Pacific and beyond. In an encouraging sign, the Quad has already engaged with South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand (the ‘Quad-plus’) on collective responses to the pandemic.
Need To Integrate Indian Space Assets with QUAD Space Architecture for Real Time and Wide Area Operations
13. Indian Defence Space Agency is at a nascent stage. The indigenous NAVIC Global Positioning System for mil-grade precision is yet to be implemented due to technological limitations. Indian Space Assets providing military capabilities are limited when compared to Chinese Space Militarisation. However, with the integration of QUAD space assets with the Indian space systems will make India come at par with state of the art systems. This integration will actually provide collaboration with the advanced Defence Space network of QUAD, which shall enhance India’s space competence. The all-weather 24/7 military grade precision look’ capability in the Indo-Pacific, the Himalayas and SE Asia region is critical for India. Chinese own dual-use Space capabilities are ahead of India’s efforts, and the physical or cyber threat to Indian satellite system from China is real. This will give advantage to India over China. The impact of such a real time space service will make Indian forces dominate in the Information domain along the Line of Actual Control with China as well as along the Line of Control with Pakistan.
Nuclear Stability in the Indo=Pacific Theatre
14. USA and India are nuclear powers. Therefore it would be immune to China’s nuclear blackmail in the Indo-Pacific theatre.Moreover,China is bound to get checkmated on this nuclear balance equation with France and UK who are likely to join the QUAD Plus grouping. It also neutralizes in a way the India –china nuclear asymmetry.
General Points for a Blueprint.
15. Additional effort for other kinds of integration try required is discussed below:
(a) Five Eyes Alliance (FVEY).This is an intelligence-sharing partnership between the US, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. At this stage, the inclusion of three more countries viz. India, Japan and South Korea is recommended so as to counter China’s growing capabilities in military and cyber technologies.
(b) Sale of Indian Military hardware like Brahmos missiles and other such equipment to QUAD members and SE Asian countries should be encouraged as part of a politico-military strategy.
(c) Many aspects like India’s technological competence to collaborate intrinsically within QUAD etc. are likely to evolve in the next couple of years. This affiliation should also enable India to access niche and classified technologies.
(d) Indian naval activities in the western Pacific waters and more visits in the SCS should be enhanced as per the vision of QUAD. Similarly; the other QUAD members should also visit the IOR as part of a patrolling activity.
(e) The Quad will need to be involved in developing a cyber-security strategy that recognises the varied nature of evolving threats and the importance of ensuring the security and resilience of alliance members’ networks.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is seeking to secure the technological future by fostering the ‘Quad Tech Network’.
(f) This initiative opens a new ‘track 2’ Quad stream for universities and think tanks to promote research on and discussion of cyberspace and critical technology. The focus should be on addressing key technology- and cyber-related issues facing the region and fostering policy collaboration among Quad members.
(g) The ‘China Standards 2035’ plan lays out a blueprint for the CCP and leading state-owned technology companies to set global standards for emerging technologies like 5G and artificial intelligence, among other areas. This is intended to work in concert with China’s other industrial policies, such as the ‘Made in China 2025’ strategy, to make China a global leader in high-tech innovation, and dovetails into the Belt and Road infrastructure expansion. This needs to be watched.
(h) US National Defence Authorisation Act 2021(NDAA) is focussed on China. It requires reports on Chinese military and security developments (Section 1260) and the U.S. strategy toward China (Section 1261). The NDAA has outlined activities in the South China Sea. Section 1259 prohibits the secretary of defense from involving China in any Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises until he is able to certify to relevant congressional committees that China has ceased its land reclamation and related military activities for at least a four-year period. Similarly, Section 1262 requires the secretaries of defense and state to name-and-shame China by reporting any significant Chinese reclamation activity, territorial claims, or militarization in the SCS to relevant congressional committees and releasing the unclassified core of that report to the public. The US containment policies in the broad region that it nowadays refers to as the “Indo-Pacific” has been highlighted. It’ll thus seek to optimize spending and improve the military’s positioning, as well as coordinate everything with America’s regional allies. In this instance the Indian position in the Himalayas also becomes relevant as already mentioned in this act specifically. India should prevail on the US to provide the best technology and weapons to strengthen the allied Indian position in the high altitude mountains of the Himalayas.
Creating a QUAD Fund and QUAD Theatre reserve Weapons
16. India happens to be in the forefront and is taking the brunt along the Line of actual Control in the Himalayas.Japan and Australia only come into play in the second line of contact with China. For India to shoulder this responsibility for global peace needs global support through the QUAD financial mechanism. There could be a concept developed to fund at least a quarter of the budget required for modernisation of the Indian Armed Forces. It could be worked out in a similar fashion as the deals between Japan and the USA and also South Korea and the USA.Somebody has to give that extra fund to cater for the minimum modernisation expenditures. Failing this would be like saving a penny but being pound foolish. If India can successfully push back the PLA from the Himalayas, it would save the world from China’s adventurism. Further, there could be a concept developed to create the QUAD Weapons and Equipment Table (WET) inventory of air support and missiles and drones at the theatre level. India can thus take these weapons on lease to fight the Chinese at the forefront without much of defence burden. A Tibetan additional QUAD theatre force can also be raised for a counter-offensive role in Tibet.
17. The British government has also floated the idea of a ‘Democracy 10’ (including the Quad countries) to tackle issues, such as the development of standards for 5G and emerging technologies, that affect the collective interests of the democratic nations.
18. A key to the Quad’s future is to embrace multilateralism and have a nuanced approach that builds on strategic alliances and partnerships globally. This is a strategic advantage that autocratic states cannot match. However, as democracies rally, China will exert its financial clout and military pressure to subdue a state. Therefore it will be a very dynamic and uncertain evolution of such a coalition at the global level. For India again it would be a win-win grouping as India would maintain its autonomy while share its security burden. An arms race with an adversary like China is something India cannot afford to start now or in the near future.
Thus QUAD based jointness would knit a strong deterrence.
19. Moreover, the Indo-Pacific is being redefined, ironically, by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), debt-trap diplomacy, fictional territorial claims and a divide-and-rule strategy. Beijing views the “Indo-Pacific” as a direct threat to the BRI, and in classical wei qi calculus, as an “encirclement” strategy.
20. Thus in totality the QUAD initiative can be defined as a Game Changer geopolitical and geostrategic grouping which can compel China to respect sovereignty of other nations. Therefore, the joint statement as issued after the first QUAD summit speaks all. It says “that we will begin cooperation on the critical technologies of the future to ensure that innovation is consistent with a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific. We will continue to prioritize the role of international law in the maritime domain, particularly as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and facilitate collaboration, including in maritime security, to meet challenges to the rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas”.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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