The Quad Security Dialogue origins behind US-led effort against China

The Quad Security Dialogue origins behind US-led effort against China

The leaders of the United States, Japan, Australia and India gathered in Tokyo on Tuesday for a summit of the Quad. What is the group, where did it come from, and why do diplomats keep coming up with strange names for different partnerships?

After the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, the Quadrilateral Security DialogueQuadrilateral Security Dialogue began as a loose partnership, when the four countries joined together to provide humanitarian and disaster assistance. It was first introduced by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in 2007 but fell dormant for nearly a decade, particularly amid Australian concerns that it would irritate China.

The group was reconstructed in 2017 due to changing attitudes towards China's growing regional influence. Both the Trump and Biden administrations saw the Quad as a key to a pivot towards putting more emphasis on the Indo-Pacific region, particularly as a counterweight to China's assertive actions. The Quad leaders held their first formal summit in 2021 and met virtually in March.

Is it an Asian Nato? China complained that the group is an attempt to form an Asian Nato, even though there is no mutual-defence pact in effect. Quad members say that the group is meant to deepen economic, diplomatic and military ties among the four countries. They don't often say it, but they are meant to be a bulwark against Chinese aggression. In a March 2021 declaration laying out the spirit of the Quad, the leaders said: We bring diverse perspectives and are united in a shared vision for the free and open Indo-Pacific. We want to be a region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values and unconstrained by coercion. Tuesday s meeting was the first in-person gathering of the group for Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida, who took office in October 2021, as well as Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese, who was sworn in on Monday, two days after Australia's parliamentary election and one day before the summit.

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, is attending as he faces increasing global scrutiny over his government's crackdown on minorities and authoritarian tendencies. After the war began, the other members of the Quad have been united in standing up against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, especially with sanctions, but India increased its purchases of Russian energy supplies. The invasion has resulted in food shortages that are causing price spikes, but India has banned wheat exports because of a heatwave that could make the global challenge much harder to solve.

South Korea has expressed interest in joining the Quad, though US officials have said they are not contemplating adjusting the membership. The group has held quad-plus meetings that included Vietnam, New Zealand and South Korea, which could form the basis for future expansion or partnership.