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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Explained Ideas: Why India must revive and expand the Quad initiative to counter China

Other nations feeling the brunt of Chinese brawn may be willing to join an Indo-Pacific concord to maintain peace and tranquillity, writes Arun Prakash.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 22, 2020 8:11:37 am
Quad initiative, India quadrilateral naval exercise, China naval exercise, China, China Quad initiative, Indian Express An Indian Navy sailor stands guard on the deck of the INS Shivalik during the inauguration of joint naval exercises with the United States and Japan in Chennai on July 10, 2017. (Photo via Bloomberg)

Arun Prakash, former chief of the Indian Navy, explains the origins of the so-called Quadrilateral initiative against China and argues in favour of reviving it.

The Quad traces its origins to the great Asian tsunami of December 26, 2004. Indian ships, aircraft and helicopters were dispatched within hours to assist Sri Lankan, Maldivian and Indonesian neighbours in distress. This swift response established our navy’s credentials as a credible regional force. On the other hand, not a single PLA Navy (PLAN) ship was seen throughout the 2004 tsunami relief operations.

Later, when navies of five nations assembled for a joint exercise off Okinawa, China issued a demarche to India, US, Japan and Australia seeking details about their meeting — terming it a “Quadrilateral initiative”.

China’s hostility arouses trepidation amongst Quad members.

“The time for ambivalence is over and while India will have to fight its own territorial battles with determination, this is the moment to seek external balancing. A formal revival and re-invigoration of the Quad is called for. It is also time to seek an enlargement of this grouping into a partnership of the like-minded. Other nations feeling the brunt of Chinese brawn may be willing to join an “Indo-Pacific concord” to maintain peace and tranquillity and to ensure observance of the UN Law of the Seas,” he writes.

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He states that it is essential for India’s strategic-planners and policy-makers to retain clarity about the reason India has become a partner that is sought after by the US and others.

Quad initiative, India quadrilateral naval exercise, China naval exercise, China, China Quad initiative, Indian Express China’s hostility arouses trepidation amongst Quad members, says Arun Prakash. (Illustration by C R Sasikumar)

“While India’s status as a nuclear-weapon state and major land/air power, as well as a growing economy and attractive market, has been known for some time, New Delhi’s newfound allure for the US, the Quad and ASEAN is rooted only in its ability to project power and influence in distant ocean reaches”.

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