Why is Quad important for the US?
Even as the top US leadership was hospitalised, Pompeo kept Tokyo on his agenda while he cancelled all other visits to Asia
The recent Quad meeting between the foreign ministers of four member countries of India, Japan, Australia and the United States in Tokyo saw an extraordinary participation of the US despite many leaders including President Donald Trump testing positive for Coronavirus.
The US Secretary of States on October 6 discussed several multilateral as well as bilateral security issues and the ways to strengthen relations with the representatives of the other three nations.
Mike Pompeo later took to twitter and wrote, “successful meeting with Quad counterparts from Japan, Australia and India in Tokyo. Thanks to foreign Minister @moteging for his leadership in facilitating our productive discussion. The Quad shares a vision for peace, security and prosperity in a free and open Indi-Pacific.”
Successful meeting with Quad counterparts from Japan, Australia, and India in Tokyo. Thanks to Foreign Minister @moteging for his leadership in facilitating our productive discussion. The Quad shares a vision for peace, security, and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific. pic.twitter.com/b8iJm4BcJv— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 6, 2020
Now, what brought the US to the meeting despite COVID-19 crisis and upcoming elections in the country, is China. The White House has made an exception this time as the Quad this time shared an anti-China sentiment.
Ravi Agarwal, in his article in FP writes, “One of the few tangible foreign-policy philosophies of the Trump administration is movement away from multilateralism and alliances. But the White House seems to make an exception for the Quad. This may be because the Quad today is defined less by what it stands for and more by what it opposes: China.”
According to the article, for Trump and his administration, China is the US's primary adversary, therefore, even with the top leadership hospitalised, Pompeo kept Tokyo on his agenda while he cancelled all other visits to Asia.
As per several other media reports, Pompeo, at the Quad meeting, lashed out at China for its handling of COVID-19. During the meeting, he urged other members to collaborate against Beijing’s ‘exploitation, coercion and corruption.’
He urged nations to take steps to realise their shared goals in the Indo-Pacific. He shared the details and wrote, “Meetings like this will help the members of the US-India-Australia-Japan Quad realise our shared goals for Indo-Pacific region.”
Had a great dinner with my counterparts Foreign Ministers @moteging, @DrSJaishankar, and @MarisePayne. FM Motegi has been a gracious host! Meetings like this will help the members of the U.S.-India-Australia-Japan Quad realize our shared goals for the Indo-Pacific region. pic.twitter.com/gOXNaU4lk7— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 6, 2020
According to Foreign Policy, this year’s Quad was different. When the Quad Initiative started in 2007 and supported by Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the group often failed to reach a consensus on various issues.
In fact, Australia, then, was more focused on strengthening its ties with China and India followed the non-alignment strategy. However, things took a turn in 2020 when the countries changed their approach towards China who is focused on emerging as a hegemon in not only the Asian region but in the world.
“But in 2020, Canberra and especially New Delhi have revised their approaches toward Beijing. Australia has moved to actively combat Chinese foreign influence, while India’s foreign-policy and defense apparatus has focused on its deadly border conflict with China,” the Washington-based magazine said.
Despite all this, Pompeo was the only leader who named China while the other nations pointed out China’s hostility without clearly mentioning its name, the article says further. The US has recently seen a surge in the anti-China sentiment within the country.
However, with presidential elections round the corner, it is difficult to say how the new administration will approach Quad 2021, even more so, if Joe Biden comes to power.