The Quad’s Role in the US Indo-Pacific Strategy

The US is relying heavily on cooperation with Quartet members in many fields to maintain momentum for the Indo-Pacific strategy, according to experts.

In a joint statement after the Four-Party Security Dialogue (also known as the Quartet) summit in Tokyo, Japan on May 24, the leaders of the US, Australia, India and Japan reaffirmed the group as a “powerful force” quality for progress” and “committed to bringing concrete benefits to the region”.

The Quad also announced it would invest more than $50 billion over the next five years to support infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as agreeing on a new maritime initiative, to strengthen monitoring of activities in the seas in the region.

Experts say this is a much larger investment than some of the recent support commitments that the US has made to countries in Asia, partly showing that Washington is in need of support from allies and partners. to maintain the momentum of reaching the region, especially when the administration of President Joe Biden has to give priority to the European security situation, the Ukraine crisis and internal economic issues.

“America’s greatest strength is its ability to work with friends and allies in the region. The Quad’s financial support initiatives, many of which stem from the United States, are designed to demonstrate US activity in the region is being supported,” Bryce Wakefield, executive director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, told VnExpress.

Previously, the Quartet, led by the US, also played a role in efforts to respond to global challenges. In 2021, the group that prioritizes providing Covid-19 pandemic response support, announced it will contribute approximately $5.2 billion to the Covax vaccine access initiative, representing about 40% of total donations from governments. globally for this program.

The Quartet countries have also delivered more than 670 million doses of vaccines around the world, of which at least 256 million are destined for the Indo-Pacific region, according to the policy think tank the Council on Foreign Relations. (CFR) in the US.

“These efforts make it increasingly clear that the US wants to rely on the Quad model to demonstrate that it is approaching the region on a multilateral basis,” Wakefield said. This is considered an important part of the US Indo-Pacific strategy.

From left to right: New Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend the Quad summit in Tokyo on May 24.  Photo: Reuters.

From left: New Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend the Quad summit in Tokyo on May 24. Image: Reuters.

Mr. Luc Minh Tuan, a member of the International Research Group at HUFLIT University in Ho Chi Minh City. Ho Chi Minh City, noting that many of the pillars of the Quartet established after the Tokyo summit were “in fact based mainly on the existing strengths of Japan, India and Australia”.

On the field medical securityThe US has taken full advantage of India’s strength as the world’s largest vaccine production center, financial support, and Japan’s cold storage system and shipping capacity from Australia to strengthen the pillar of cooperation. medical.

Washington also persuaded New Delhi to participate more strongly in this field by investing in a vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson in cooperation with Biological E.

This vaccine accounts for a large part of the Quad’s commitment to provide one billion doses of vaccine by 2022, instead of the two vaccines that have been approved by the Indian government for emergency use, Covaxin and Covishield.

In the field fight climate change, the US authorized Australia to host the Indo-Pacific Energy Forum in Sydney in July, while taking advantage of the initiative to build the Disaster Resilience Infrastructure (CDRI) initiative led by the United States. Founding India. This is considered a form of compensation for the minimal presence of US climate monitoring facilities in the area, according to Mr. Tuan.

Combating climate change is also an important content of cooperation between the US and Australia in an effort to compete for influence from China in the Pacific island nations. In a joint statement on May 24, the Quartet pledged to increase its support for the region to respond to the consequences of climate change.

Mr. Nguyen The Phuong, lecturer at the international relations department at the University of Economics and Finance, Ho Chi Minh City. Ho Chi Minh City, said that this commitment of the Quartet is very important, in the context that island nations in the South Pacific especially need large investments for economic development and combating climate change. They see climate change and sea level rise as a threat to the nation’s survival.

“Clearly, the attraction from China’s money source is too great for them to ignore, while the recent support from Australia and New Zealand is still not enough. China is the third largest donor to the Thai islands. Binh Duong and their construction activities in the region reached a considerable scale,” he said.

In two areas of cooperation on maritime security and hydrogen energy developmentthe Quartet also plays an important role in the series of initiatives proposed by the US, according to Mr. Tuan.

The new US Maritime Awareness Initiative (IPMDA) relies heavily on complex regional information hubs such as the India-based Indian Ocean Regional Information Aggregation Agency, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries on the Solomon Islands and the Pacific Integration Center in Vanuatu. The two centers in Solomon and Vanuatu both receive support from the Australian government.

The US hydrogen energy development orientations in the Indo-Pacific must also combine with the leading technological advantages of Japan and Australia. The two regional powers since January signed an agreement to establish a trading partnership for this sector.

Mr. Tuan said that these initiatives show that the capacity and presence of Japan, Australia and India in the Quartet is increasing, while the role of the US is gradually becoming more blurred.

US President Joe Biden (right) chats with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, May 23.  Photo: AP.

US President Joe Biden (right) chats with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, May 23. Image: AP.

According to expert Wakefield, the Biden administration needs to make more efforts to demonstrate to the region that the desire to approach from Washington in the Indo-Pacific strategy is sincere and firm enough.

Seven months after announcing the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy, the Biden administration has just announced the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), one of the five pillars of the strategy.

Experts assess that the US has so far only launched single initiatives, lacking breakthroughs and financial weight in the fields of investment and economic cooperation. During the recent ASEAN-US Special Summit, Washington announced US$150 million in support for the region, but had not yet set out a clear investment commitment or access to the US market in many fields, Wakefield said. know.

However, analysts warn that in the process of strengthening cooperation, the Quartet also needs to convince the region that it is not pursuing an “excessively aggressive” counterbalancing strategy with China. US officials have repeatedly conveyed the message that they want to bring to the Indo-Pacific a model and opportunity for sustainable development to replace high-risk loans from China.

The Quartet’s joint statement on May 24 did not directly mention China, but the counterbalance implications are still very clear. The leaders of the United States, Japan, India and Australia jointly condemned “coercive, provocative or unilateral changes to the status quo” in the region, including the “militarization of disputed features, using coast guard ships and maritime militia is dangerous and hinders the exploitation of offshore resources”.

Many countries in the Indo-Pacific choose stability as a top priority and do not want to “pick sides” in the great power competition. Expert Wakefield said that this would be a big challenge for the Quad as well as the US Indo-Pacific strategy, in the context of Beijing’s accusations that Washington wanted to establish an “Asian NATO” through the model. Quartet, aimed at restraining China’s development.

“The Quartet seems to have succeeded in building an orientation as a supplier of medical supplies, vaccines and logistics to support the Indo-Pacific region to respond to the pandemic,” Wakefield said. “The question is whether this can be sustained by the Quad in a more complex regional security environment.”

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