Australia growing role in Asia-Pacific under QUAD

Quad is a security alliance that was the result of quadrilateral talk among Australian-Indian-Japanese-US-Security- informally known as the Quad. It was made in 2007 but its revival was observed in 2017 after rising Chinese influence in the Asia Pacific region. Australia is one of the most important nations party to this alliance. The main aim of this alliance is to support an open and comprehensive Indo-Pacific Region. However, there are significant differences among the four countries on perceptions of threat, military capability, strategic priority, and potential resilience by China. Still, they are all united in their resolve to maintain a stable balance of power in the region and to establish an independent economic order. These countries think that China is applying debt-trap diplomacy to gain access to major maritime routes and chokepoints which would make it an indispensable power in the region in no time. Therefore, Led by President Xi Jinping, China is vigorously pressing its claims in the East and South China Seas and has become more borrowed and ambitious to promote its BRI. Quad states have already responded by increasing their cooperation in upholding the order based on existing liberal rules. Despite the COVID-19 shocks and domestic ups and downs, this cooperation will continue to deepen. Although India is one of the four states that have different views on the threat to China, it does not allow the four states to cooperate more deeply on standardization, diplomatic messaging, practical economic measures, and military cooperation, so that liberal rules-based order could be maintained which has been beneficial for all of them.

With the changing balance of power in the Indian Pacific, Australia has begun to consider more seriously how it can better manage its interests well. The quad was previously seen as less of a formal alliance and included a strategic partnership with a desire to balance China’s rise, as well as a desire to protect common interests in the Pacific region. “The four-way talks will further expand the possibility of involving Australia in the Malabar exercise in the coming years and thus improve maritime co-operation between the four maritime countries.” And he sees this partnership as going beyond maritime cooperation to “shifting China’s Belt and Road Initiative to provide alternative Indo-Pacific connectivity and infrastructure.”

As the Indian Ocean, which forms part of the dividing line between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, it naturally invests in the security of Australian territory. In light of this fact, the two main naval bases of the Australian Navy, Sydney, and Perth on the Pacific coast are located on the shores of the Indian Ocean, which has expressed a desire to provide significant operations in both seas.

Along with the United States, Australia seems to be less concerned about Chinese sensitivities than Japan and India. This is likely to indicate that Australia is moving far beyond the Chinese government’s view of being more aggressive in defending its values – and that these values are essential to regional security.

If Australia can move beyond maneuvering to include defense as a key performance, it could have the opportunity to forge a more intimate relationship with India. With already close bilateral relations with the United States and Japan, Quad offers Australia the opportunity to enhance its developed relationship with India, as well as provide regional security infrastructure to counter any modification activity.

A country with a particularly European identity, Australia seeks a global and regional discipline that can further protect its national interests in the expansion of global capitalism, given the potential security dilemma posed by security arrangements. Historically, Australia has not been so much a follower of its great and powerful friends, but an active participant in various economic and security mechanisms through which it pursues its national interests. Its efforts for regional integration, and the consequent setbacks, tell us a great deal about the volatile nature of international relations in the region, and the US is supporting this group to counter China in Asia pacific. Also, the South China Sea is like a lifeline for China. Hostile neighbors can put a full stop to her economic and strategic plan. More Regional partners like South Korea and Vietnam may also be added to counter Chinese ambition.

Syeda Duaa Naqvi
Syeda Duaa Naqvi
Research student doing Bachelors in International Relations from National DefenseUniversity, Islamabad.