[Solved] Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is transforming itself into a trade block from the military alliance, in present times. Discuss (UPSC GS -2 Mains 2020)

The quadrilateral security dialogue, or “Quad,” was reborn in 2017 to ensure a “rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.” Bringing together the US, Japan, India, and Australia, the Quad was initially intended as a mechanism for responding to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

  • However, it quickly became entangled in growing strategic competition across Asia and collapsed in 2008.
  • Although the four countries still sometimes differ in their views of the region’s strategic trends, the Quad’s revival points to a greater alignment of interests this time around.
  • Nonetheless, major challenges to the Quad’s viability remain. First, it is unclear whether the four powers will be able to amplify opportunities for cooperation while ensuring that wider geopolitical rivalries do not again overwhelm the grouping. Second, given that it has been revived  to  support this “Indo-Pacifc” order,  the  Quad is constrained by the vagueness  of  the Indo-Pacific concept and  the  absence of Indonesia

Transformation of Quad Into A Trade Bloc:

  • Complex Interdependence: In the world of complex interdependence whereby nations have trade dependency over each other or collective responsibility of global commons, a military bloc reminiscent of the cold war era seems quite outdated.
  • In this context, it is more plausible that Quad member countries envision themselves from a geo-economic prism.
  • Also, a military bloc may bring all great powers (US, China, India, Russia) to the brink of a war, which is not in the interest of these countries and global peace.
  • Comprehensive Indo-Pacific Region: Quad member countries agreed that a free, open, prosperous, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region will serve the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large.
  • Quad also envisages addressing the common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region, as well as on enhancing connectivity.
  • Blue Dot Network: It is a multi-stakeholder initiative (led by the US along with Japan and Australia) to bring together governments, the private sector, and civil society to promote high-quality, trusted standards for global infrastructure development.
  • It could directly counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Tackling Global Challenges: Challenges emanating from Covid-19 highlighted the need for improving the resilience of supply chains and self-sufficiency also.
  • In this context, the transformation of Quad into a trade bloc can help tackle future global challenges more effectively.


  • Can the Quad meet its partners’ interests in practical ways? Quad cooperation could take two basic forms: a narrow functional approach or a broader regional approach. Greater functional cooperation might cover working jointly to deal with region-wide disasters through a combined disaster relief policy.
  • Cooperation on military readiness, such as through joint military training, offers a low-key alternative to grand announcements regarding mutual defence pacts, although it may still antagonise China.
  • Establishing the Malabar exercises as a Quad undertaking, thereby bringing Australia back into these exercises, would constitute a shift toward such cooperation.
  • Wider defence cooperation, particularly in terms of sharing military technologies or establishing procedures for greater intelligence sharing, may also be possible. Indeed, Japan has  already  undertaken substantial reforms in  recent  years to extend its intelligence-sharing cooperation

Background of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue- Japan promulgated the idea to counter China’s ambition in the South China Sea. China and Russia termed it as “Asian NATO”

  • Core  idea- “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
  • Interests of each countries for QUAD:
  • USA-strategic rivals and contain China in East Asia
  • Japan-Territorial transgressions by China in East China Sea (Senkaku Islands)
  • Australia- Chinese naval expansionism in Indo-Pacific region
  • India-Territorial dispute with China in Himalayan region. Hence India trying to open a second military front against China and also counter China’s “String of Pearls ” strategy.

Contemporary times:

  • Is a military cooperation on maritime domain. Due to China’s increasing  growth as an economic superpower, all the members are shifting to a common tradeblock.
  • Australia has suffered economic bullying by China through tariff impositions.
  • India has the largest trade deficit with China. Recently refused to join RCEP.
  • The US and China are engaged in a trade war.
  • Japan has its largest exports to China. China surpassed Japan as Asia’s largest economy.
  • Hence all the 4 members aligning to counter their economic dependence on China. For eg, Comprehensive Economic partnership between India and Japan.
  • India having a trade deficit with most countries, a trade block with Quad members will benefit India most.(economic bandwagoning)

India Emerging as a Net Security Provider

  • There is a growing great power interest in the maritime sphere, especially with the arrival of the concept of ‘Indo-Pacific’. For instance, many european countries have recently released their Indo-Pacific strategies.
  • With India, located right at the centre of the Indo-Pacific geopolitical imagination can realise the vision of a ‘broader Asia’ that can extend its influence away from geographical boundaries.
  • Moreover, India can build around collective action in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, monitoring shipping for search and rescue or anti-piracy operations, infrastructure assistance to climatically vulnerable states, connectivity initiatives and similar activities.
  • Further, India with Quad countries can check imperialist policies of China in Indian ocean region and ensure Security and growth for all in the region.

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