This blog post is not about the Quadrilateral, which has four sides with straight lines joined up but about the Quad, which has been in recent talks in our country and globally. Its current defense exercises have brought it into all the more limelight. This blogpost will also give you an insight into how international relations have evolved globally over time.

What is QUAD?

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, abbreviated as Q.S.D., also known as the QUAD or Asian NATO, is a casual strategic forum between the United States, Japan, Australia, and India semi-regular summits, exchanges of information, and military exercises between member countries. The meeting was initiated by Japan’s then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007 as a dialogue with Japan’s then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Joint military exercises of unparalleled size, dubbed Exercise Malabar, paralleled the conversation. The diplomatic and military arrangements were widely perceived as a reaction to increased Chinese economic and military influence. By issuing formal diplomatic protests to its representatives, the Chinese government responded to the Quad.

QUAD or QSD- quadrilateral security dialogue

Guiding Principles of QUAD

QUAD’s concept is to keep the strategic and critical sea routes clear of any Indo-Pacific interference.

  • To preempt and reduce Chinese influences, it is seen as a strategic grouping.
  • The QUAD’s primary goals are to secure a global order based on law, a liberal trading system, and navigation freedom.
  • It aims to contain a ‘growing China’ and work against its economic and predatory trade policies.
  • Another goal of the QUAD is to provide the Indo-Pacific region with alternative debt funding for nations.

History of QUAD

After Australia’s withdrawal in February 2008, shortly after Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd took office, the first version of the Quad ceased to exist, after a joint naval exercise between the Quad and Singapore attracted diplomatic protests from China. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda reinstated Abe in Japan. He claimed that India and China’s relationship was a priority and were other explanations for the Quad’s discontinuation.

Military cooperation among the United States and Australia was strengthened under Rudd, and his successor, Julia Gillard. It leads to US Marines near Darwin, Australia, near the Timor Sea and Lombok Strait, India, the United States, and Japan continued to hold joint naval exercises through Malabar until 2019.

Australia joined the Malabar exercise in 2020 after being invited from India, making it the first time that all Quad members will be militarily active after talks began during the 2017 ASEAN Summits, with Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the United States President Donald Trump agreeing to revive the security pact in Manila. 


Strategic Framework 

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has been credited with negotiating an American, Japanese, Australian, and Indian security pact modelled on Democratic Peace. The Quadrilateral was meant to establish an “Asian Arc of Democracy,” intended to eventually incorporate countries in Central Asia, the Korean peninsula, Mongolia, and other Southeast Asian countries: “virtually all the countries on China’s periphery, except for China itself.”

For example, this has led some critics, the former U.S. State Department authoritative Morton Abramowitz, to propose the project “an anti-Chinese move,” While the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has historically favored China. 

Australia was forced to improve its relations with the U.S. because of the excess ammunition purchases by china defence understanding with the U.S., as sketched by the 2007 Canberra Defense Blueprint. Sandy Gordon of the Australian Strategic Power Institute had recommended the sale of uranium to India based on similar considerations, as it appeared that the United States was backing it as a “counter to a rising China.” However, Chinese anger over the Quadrilateral caused a dilemma within Australia even before the agreements were initiated.

America’s strategic preoccupation in Iraq and Afghanistan undermines its ability to adapt to significant power shifts in the Asia-Pacific that actively examine America’s traditional balance of power role in the region. Strategic “America’s concern in Iraq and Afghanistan at the beginning of the twenty-first century undermines its capacity to adapt to major power shifts in the Asia-Pacific that are actively challenging America’s traditional power balance role in the region.

President Obama called for a special worldwide performance of democracies to fight Russia and China’s dominance in the U.N. Security Council during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. Key Obama administration officials were involved in the Princeton Initiative, whose final report called for creating a new ‘concert of democracies.’ Anne-Marie Slaughter, State Department Chief, wrote the Princeton Project’s final report, which “called for reconstituting the quadrilateral military alliance among the Japan, United States, Australia, and India.”

John McCain summoned for a “league of democracies” and Rudy Giuliani to incorporate the militarily capable Asian democracies into NATO. In the sense of Chinese military modernization, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue establishment was geared towards contingency in the Taiwan Strait and towards “force projection capabilities.”

Trilateral Security Dialogue

The T.S.D. was a series of U.S., Japanese, and Australian trilateral meetings. The T.S.D. was first convened in 2002 at senior officials’ level, then elevated to ministerial level in 2005. The United States hoped that regional allies would help accelerate the United States’ global strategy to combat terrorism and nuclear proliferation. In exchange, Japan and Australia anticipating continued strategic engagement by the U.S. and the preservation of strategic assurances in the region.

U.S. Indian Military Cooperation

After India’s economic liberalization, active US-Indian military cooperation expanded in 1991, when American Lt. General Claude C. Kicklighter, then the U.S. Army Pacific commander, proposed military-to-army collaboration.

Under the Indian National Democratic Alliance government, this cooperation expanded further in the mid-1990s, and India offered the U.S. military fac in 2001. “New Framework for India-US Defense “New Framework for India-US Defense” Framework on maritime security cooperation.” Maritime Security Cooperation Framework.

India and the United States conducted hundreds of joint military exercises in the ensuing years before establishing a Quadrilateral dialogue, viewed by some as an attempt to “contain” China.

Asian NATO

In October 2020, the Washington Times announced that “the Trump administration recently floated the concept of turning the coalition Quad into an ‘Asian NATO.'”. The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State indicated that the Quad could become a NATO-type alliance in Asia; he said at a virtual Indo-U.S. Conference that Quad was not “a post-war alliance, but a grouping” with similar security and geopolitical goals. The Quad also draws comparisons to NATO from Asian commentators. Although the parallels are split, China presents the Quad negatively as a precursor to a militarised NATO in Asia.

Let us look at the timeline of quadrilateral security dialogue, after which we will see what all happened recently and why has it been in the news? The timeline will help you connect the dots and better understand what and why is happening now.


Prime Minister Abe initiated a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or ‘Quadrilateral Initiative,’ in which India joined Japan, the United States, and Australia in a structured multilateral dialogue. Before any formal convention of its members, China sent diplomatic protests to all four Quadrilateral members.

The successor to Abe, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, downplayed China’s importance in the Japan-India pact signed after the Quadrilateral was formed. Similarly, Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon argued that because of Indian freight trade with Japan, the security agreement was long overdue and did not explicitly threaten China.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard attended the Quadrilateral meeting in Manila in May 2007 with other participants at Cheney’s invitation, one month after joint naval exercises by India, Japan, and the United States near Tokyo.

Other naval activities, including Australia, were conducted in the Bay of Bengal in September 2007. This was followed in October by an additional security agreement between Japan and India, ratified during a visit to Tokyo by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to promote the collaboration between sea lane security and defence; Japan had previously formed such an agreement only with Australia.

Following visits to China and meetings with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao in January 2008, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after being asked about the Quadrilateral, announced that “India isn’t a part of any so-called “contain China” effort.” 

Kevin Rudd met Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in February 2008, following his nomination as Australian Prime Minister, and asked Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to announce Australia’s withdrawal from the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue unilaterally.

Some U.S. diplomatic thinkers criticized Rudd’s decision to leave Quadrilateral; Mike Green, former Asia director of the United States National Security Council, said that Rudd had withdrawn to appease China, making significant diplomatic efforts to achieve that goal. A December 2008 cable written and released by WikiLeaks by U.S. Ambassador Robert McCallum shows that Rudd did not consult the United States before leaving the Quadrilateral.

After Julia Gillard replaced Rudd in June 2010, Australia’s relations with the United States and China continued to be discussed. Rudd’s decision to leave the Quadrilateral remained the target of criticism from Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party. Amid Gillard’s rapprochement with the U.S. and increased US-Australian military cooperation.

Quadrilateral alliances were undermined by Australia’s decision not to sell uranium to India, a move often reprimanded by the Liberal Party; Gillard’s assistance for a U.S. military presence near Darwin, overlooking the Timor Sea and the Lombok Strait, however, was endorsed by the Party. Gillard and the Labor Party have since changed policy with the United States’ support and approved uranium selling to India, which has declined to sign the Treaty on Nuclear Non-proliferation. On September 5, 2014, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott agreed to sell uranium to India.

All four former participants engaged in efforts to restore the quadrilateral alliance during the 2017 ASEAN Summits. Japanese, Indian, Australian, and American officials met in November 2017 before the ASEAN and East Asia Summits to continue security cooperation. The meeting admitted discussion of China’s increased prominence in the South China Sea and may have signaled U.S. President Trump’s attention in reviving a formal Quadrilateral.

Why is it in the news lately? 

Officials from the Quadrilateral met in March 2020 to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. They were connected for the first time by New Zealand, South Korea, and Vietnam. In July 2020, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, India, Japan, and the U.S.A. were in talks to invite Australia to a joint naval exercise at Malabar 2020, scheduled for the end of 2020. In October 2020, the four nations held a Tokyo, Japan meeting to discuss talks to counter China’s increasing assertiveness in the region. However, no joint statement was drawn up at the meeting.

Key highlights of the meeting included:

The participants discussed:

  • The rules-based international order and the peaceful settlement of conflicts.
  • Emphasis has been placed on how supply chains can be made more flexible, and access to affordable vaccines has been increased.
  • The ministers addressed many other topics, such as connectivity, humanitarian relief, marine protection, health security, and counter-terrorism.
  • In the sense of China’s aggressive positions in the region, the ministers concentrated on fostering a free, transparent, and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

In October 2020, the Ministry of Defence of the Indian Government declared that Australia would join the Malabar 2020 naval exercise that was then held next month, consisting of India, Japan, and the U.S., after more than three years, Australia first requested to join. Parallel practices on the Indo Pacific were then held, including a trilateral exercise between the U.S., Australia, and Japan in the Philippines Sea and an Indo-U.S. naval exercise in the Indian Ocean. The Quad is now often called ‘The confluence of four powers and two seas.’

Significance of QUAD

Analysts point out that, considering the increasing military commitments and the matrix of trilateral and bilateral ties between the QUAD members, viewing the QUAD solely as a bureaucratic-level foreign ministry-led dialogue that meets periodically might not be right.

  • It is assumed that if Chinese border violence rises, India would be able to take advantage of the other QUAD members to fight the Chinese.
  • In the Indo-Pacific region, India can take advantage of its naval front (unlike the continental show where China and Pakistan surround the country) and conduct strategic exploration.

The QUAD is also faced with several obstacles. Although the member states have recently come together, sensing an expansionist China, they have different ambitions and priorities. It will be enthralling to view how these complex inequalities play out and how nations narrow their gaps.

QUAD Foreign Policy

1. China

As of 2016, after President Donald J Trump was elected the 45th President of the U.S., he has addressed the Chinese Communist Party (or the C.C.P. or C.P.C.) how they threaten democracy in Asia and the Pacific. A trade war began between the U.S. and China on July 6, 2018, as tariffs and trade barriers were developed. Yet it wasn’t until March 19, 2019, that China’s public opinion dramatically decreased and the demonstrations in Hong Kong began as violent police acts were committed against demonstrators.

Protesters called for freedom of speech and expression, but the war against the occupying police forces stopped and has not ended since then. The Hong Kong protest is what could have contributed to China’s changing opinions. Australia also had a trade dispute with the C.C.P. as of March 2020; Australia was afraid of its rising dependency on China. It implemented new rules that placed some restrictions on Chinese products entering Australia. Australia decided to look at the origins of pandemic COVID-19, which is believed to have begun in Wuhan.

Besides that, no other knowledge is known about the true origins of the virus. The date on which it struck or how China responded to the outbreak is also unknown. There is also a cause for India and Japan to complain, as China has been pressing for contested land claims. On May 5, 2020, the clash between the two nations on the Indian border, Chinese and Indian troops engaged in hand-to-hand fighting, has led to some of the highest tensions between India and China since the 1962 Sino-Indian War.

Source: BBC

The Senkaku Islands are a few small islands that may not share much significance, although this is not the case. Japan also has several disrupted territories. These islands are used to mark the sea boundaries because if China gets these islands, the sea will have more domain. It is analogous to the dispute in the South China Sea in which China constructed artificial islands to extend its claims.

The first confrontation between Japanese and Chinese fishers was in 2008, with Japanese or Chinese flags being planted on the islands by the boats to signal that this island was their island. As the US, India, Australia, and Japan initiated an economic and military dialogue with Taiwan. Tensions only grew higher, which angered the C.C.P. duo to the One-China Policy, a policy that to put it simply, there is only one China in which the United Nations is the P.R.C.

2. Taiwan

While the Quad countries have not officially discussed their relations with Taiwan, diplomacy with the island nation has increased. As of March 16, 2018, the U.S. signed the Taiwan Travel Act allowing, “allowing high-level diplomatic engagement between Taiwanese and American officials, and encourages visits between government officials of the United States and Taiwan at all levels.”

Since 2018, the U.S. has also sold highly technical arms to protect the island. The T.A.I.P.E.I. The act was signed on March 26, 2020, to “increase the scope of U.S. relations with Taiwan and encourage other nations and international organizations to strengthen their official and unofficial ties with the island nation.”

It was not until April 2020 that Alex Azer, Secretary of Health and Human Services, was the first high-level politician to visit and negotiate diplomacy since the 20th century. This raised tensions between the C.C.P. and the R.O.C. (Republic of China), leading to a series of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan to protect the nation from the People’s Liberation Army attacks.

As of November 2020, the United States and Taiwan have signed a five-year agreement on economic development, health, technology, and security cooperation. Since then, the U.S. has also sent a U.S. Navy Admiral, paid more attention to the Embassy in Taipei, and hopes to visit Taiwan in December 2020 U.S. Senior E.P.A.


Compared to the Quad’s “diplomatic” network agenda, the Quad’s security plan is now opposed to China’s increasing authoritarianism and dominance, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. For the grouping, the QUAD participants would have to set out a clearer vision. It should not only be a slogan to have a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” QUAD should establish a working regional consultation process, and it should also work more closely with ASEAN.

A very central question that must be occurring in your mind could be about china’s take on it? Well, China negatively portrays the Quad as a precursor to a militarised Asian NATO. Hence, quadrilateral security dialogue has become a mode of signalling geopolitical scenarios today in the world, and therefore knowing about it, in my opinion, was very important. I hope I was able to enlighten you well on the topic.

ALSO READ- Why India leave RCEP in 2019?

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About the Author

Prabhroop Kaur

Hey! I'm Prabhroop. I write my heart out whenever I find the time to. I firmly believe that this world can be made a better place if we try connecting with people, and I find writing a good option for doing the same.

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