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QUAD Summit: Moving Closer to the Indo-Pacific?

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Following a heated geopolitical arena on the Indo-Pacific, the QUAD leaders – Australia, India, Japan and the US – marked the Indo-Pacific era, in which Washington and Beijing are the two key figures. The QUAD’s leaders convened on the 24th of September at the White House to strengthen their security ties in “free” Indo-Pacific and counterweight China’s emerging power. The Indo-Pacific rivalry sheds light on a new bipolar system between the US and China. On the one hand, Washington is establishing a counterbalance to China’s geo-economic growth through other security alliances in the Indo-Pacific region, such as the trilateral pact AUKUS between Australia, the UK and the US. On the other hand, China is increasing its geo-economic efforts of dominance through Belt and Road Initiative/BRI program to build its Silk Road, and not only.

The four like-minded countries stressed that the Summit serves as “an opportunity to refocus ourselves and the world on the Indo-Pacific […]” implying that Beijing’s rising capacity must be contained, given its alarming presence in the South China Sea. Washington strives to cause a profound geopolitical shift in the region through its close links with New Delhi. The latter is considered as the second emerging power in the Indo-Pacific, making it a crucial player in the US’ strategy to counterbalance Beijing’s rise. Therefore, it is indispensable for New Delhi to build trust with other regional powers in Asia, especially in the maritime field. The QUAD coalition “would act as a force for global good,” as has been stated during the Summit.  

In the same vein, the leaders also welcomed the “EU Strategy for Cooperation,” although Europeans have adopted a more diplomatic stance due to their fears of harming the Sino-European economic relations. The geo-economic competition in Asia has enhanced the Quadrilateral security and defence cooperation, hence imperilling not only Beijing’s but also Brussels’ geopolitical interests, given the latter has always been reliant on America’s security mantle. One could say that this is another wake-up call for Europeans to increase their strategic sovereignty in defence matters.

As the Indo-Pacific space is becoming a forefront of geopolitical competition, the courses of events might turn up differently for the US and China. Either Washington and New Delhi will boost their military collaboration against Beijing’s growing weight and Russia’s provocations, or Washington and Beijing will follow rapprochement, albeit highly unlikely, while New Delhi will need to stay strategically unaligned and operate careful military movements. India will likely be contested with the strategic dilemma of establishing a partnership with Anglosphere allies (UK, Japan, Australia) or with middle powers (the EU), thus avoiding taking sides. 

Written by Olha Hunchak