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QUAD: Diplomacy and Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

Daily Current Affairs

QUAD: Diplomacy and Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

Why in the news ?

  • The Quad, (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), has evolved into a strategic alliance focused on security, diplomatic collaboration, and the provision of public goods among its members and throughout the Indo-Pacific region over the past two decades.

About the Quad:

  • The Quad, comprising India, Japan, Australia, and the United States, has emerged as a significant diplomatic platform aimed at ensuring a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. 
  • It focuses on upholding international law, maintaining freedom of navigation, and promoting democratic values within the region. 
  • The Quad countries collectively host 1.9 billion people (24% of the world’s population) and account for 35% of the world’s GDP and 18% of global trade.

Genesis and Evolution:

  • The Quad was conceived in the early 2000s to leverage the converging interests of its member nations. 
  • Its inception responded to the growing need for a collaborative approach to address challenges in the Indo-Pacific, particularly those posed by natural disasters and regional security threats.

General timeline of events:


December 26

Australia, India, Japan, and the United States form a coalition to coordinate aid and streamline assistance following the Indian Ocean Tsunami, which killed 228,000 people across 14 countries in the Indo-Pacific.


May 25

Quad senior officials meet for the first time on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Manila, the Philippines.  


August 22

Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe’s “Confluence of the Two Seas” speech provides a foundation for the Quad as an “open and transparent” network that “will allow people, goods, capital and knowledge to flow freely.”


September 7

Australia, Japan, and Singapore participate in Exercise Malabar, previously a bilateral naval exercise between the United States and India, sparking protests from China.


February 5

  Australia assures China that it will withdraw from the Quad.


December 27

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls for a “democratic security diamond” whereby “Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S. state of Hawaii form a diamond to safeguard the maritime commons stretching from the Indian Ocean region to the western Pacific.”


October 12

Japan became a permanent member of Exercise Malabar.


November 12

In the first senior-level meeting of the renewed Quad, officials from all four countries meet on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Manila, the Philippines.


June 7

Quad senior officials meet for a second time on the margins of the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting in Singapore.


November 15

The third Quad Senior Officials’ Meeting occurs at the East Asia Summit in Singapore.


May 31

The Quad holds its foreign ministerial-level meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, the United States.


November 2

Australia rejoins Exercise Malabar.


March 12

The first Quad Leaders’ Summit is held virtually and the joint statement The Spirit of the Quad is released.


September 24

The second Quad Leaders’ Summit is held in-person in Washington D.C., the United States.


March 4

The third Quad Leaders’ Summit is held virtually to discuss the conflict in Ukraine and its impact on the Indo-Pacific region.


May 24

The fourth Quad Leaders’ Summit takes place in Tokyo, Japan as a standalone meeting. This is the second in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit.


March 3

The Quad Working Group on Counterterrorism is announced at the sixth Quad Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New Delhi, India.


May 20

The fifth Quad Leaders’ Summit takes place in Hiroshima, Japan on the sidelines of the Group of Seven Summit.


Quad Initiatives and Focus Areas:

  • Quad Health Security Partnership:
    • In 2021, they met virtually for the first time alongside three new partners — South Korea, Vietnam, and New Zealand, informally called the Quad-Plus.
    • Established initiatives like the Quad Vaccine Partnership.
  • Climate Working Group:
    • Launched the Quad Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Package (Q-CHAMP) at the 2022 Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo.
    • Focus areas include climate-smart agriculture, carbon recycling, and subnational climate action knowledge sharing.
    • Q-CHAMP builds on three pillars: climate ambition, clean energy, and adaptation and resilience.
    • Emphasises the need for secure, resilient, and sustainable clean energy supply chains, reducing emissions from mining, production, and manufacturing.
  • Critical and Emerging Technology (CET) Working Group:
    • Addresses technologies like AI, quantum computing, autonomous systems, and biotechnologies.
    • The Quad International Standards Cooperation Network enhances coordination and influence in international standards development.
    • Promotes global technology markets, sets technical standards, and coordinates on 5G networks and horizon scanning.
  • Space Working Group:
    • Quad nations share Earth observation satellite data for monitoring climate change, improving disaster response, and ensuring sustainable use of oceans and marine resources.
    • The global space economy was worth $546 billion in 2022, with commercial revenue accounting for 78% of the sector.
  • Quad Infrastructure Coordination Group:
    • Addresses the infrastructure financing gap due to rapid regional growth, focusing on transport, power, telecommunications, water supply, and sanitation.
    • Despite $881 billion in annual infrastructure investment in the region, the figure drops to $195 billion excluding China’s investments.
    • From 2015 to 2021, Quad countries provided over $48 billion in infrastructure financing to the Indo-Pacific.
  • Quad Senior Cyber Group:
    • Cybercrime resulted in $1 trillion in global economic losses in 2020.
    • In 2022, all Quad countries were among the top 20 international cyber victims.
    • Established the Quad Cybersecurity Partnership to address cyber threats, focusing on critical infrastructure protection, supply chain resilience, workforce development, and software security standards.

India and the Quad:

  • Platform for Consultation: The Quad serves as a platform for India to engage with major powers on regional security and economic issues, aligning with its foreign policy objectives.
  • Countering China's Influence: As a regional power, India uses the Quad to counter China's dominance in the Indian Ocean and to ensure security in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Commitment to Regional Stability: India’s participation in the Quad reflects its dedication to regional stability and its role as a significant global player.

Challenges and Criticism:

  • Emergence of AUKUS:
    • AUKUS Formation: The creation of the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) Indo-Pacific grouping has raised questions about the Quad’s future relevance.
    • Focus Differences: AUKUS focuses on broader global social issues such as climate change, COVID-19 vaccines, and supply chain resilience, while the Quad addresses stronger strategic aspects.
  • Free and Open Indo-Pacific:
    • Rules-Based Order: The Quad emphasises a ‘free, open, rules-based order’ rooted in international law to counter threats in the Indo-Pacific region.
    • Tensions with China: Tensions with China, particularly regarding unilateral actions in the South China Sea, drive the Quad's focus on maintaining a rules-based order.
  • Connectivity and Infrastructure:
    • Transparent Funding: The Quad aims to provide transparent infrastructure funding and joint connectivity projects to countries in the region.
    • Debt-Trap Prevention: This initiative is designed to prevent countries from becoming ‘debt-trapped’ by other initiatives, such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Critical Technologies and Supply Chains:
    • Working Group on Technologies: The Quad has established a working group on critical and emerging technologies to cooperate on international standards and innovation.
    • Supply Chain Resilience: Ensuring resilient supply chains is a priority for the Quad, addressing potential vulnerabilities and promoting robust economic cooperation.

Way Forward:

  • Collaborative efforts in combating climate change, enhancing pandemic response capabilities, and promoting sustainable development are essential for the region's well-being.
  • Fostering deeper economic ties and technological partnerships will be crucial in shaping the future of Indo-Pacific diplomacy. 
  • Critics often highlight the absence of a formal charter or binding commitments among the member countries, questioning the group's cohesiveness and long-term vision.
  • The Quad's perceived role in countering China's influence in the region. The group's strategies and actions are often scrutinised for their implications on regional dynamics and balance of power.
  • The next decade will be pivotal for the Quad to solidify its role as a cornerstone of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. 
  • Continued adaptation, strategic cooperation, and addressing criticisms head-on will be key to ensuring the Quad's enduring impact and success.

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q:1 Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is transforming itself into a trade bloc from a military alliance, in present times Discuss. (2020)

Source: ORF

Keywords: GS-2, IR – Bilateral Groupings & Agreements
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