Quadrilateral Security Dialogue

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Quadrilateral Security Dialogue
Australia, India, Japan, and the United States are highlighted in blue. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intended for the Quadrilateral to establish an "Asian Arc of Democracy."
2017–present (reestablished after negotiations in Nov 2017)
TypeInter-governmental security forum


 United States

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD, also known as the Quad) is an informal strategic forum between the United States, Japan, Australia and India that is maintained by semi-regular summits, information exchanges and military drills between member countries.[1] The forum was initiated as a dialogue in 2007 by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, with the support of Vice President Dick Cheney of the US, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India. The dialogue was paralleled by joint military exercises of an unprecedented scale, titled Exercise Malabar. The diplomatic and military arrangement was widely viewed as a response to increased Chinese economic and military power, and the Chinese government responded to the Quad by issuing formal diplomatic protests to its members.

The first iteration of the Quad ceased to exist following the withdrawal of Australia in February 2008, shortly after Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd took office, after a joint naval exercise between the Quad and Singapore drew diplomatic protests from China.[2] Other reasons for the discontinuation of the Quad were that in late 2007, more Beijing-friendly Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda replaced Abe in Japan and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's state visit to China in January 2008, during which he stated that the India-China relationship was a priority.[3] Under Rudd and his successor Julia Gillard, military cooperation between the United States and Australia was enhanced, leading to the placement of US Marines near Darwin, Australia, near the Timor Sea and Lombok Strait.[4][5] India, Japan, and the United States continue to hold joint naval exercises through Malabar.

However, during the 2017 ASEAN Summits all four former members rejoined in negotiations to revive the quadrilateral alliance. With Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and President Donald Trump of the United States agreeing in Manila to revive the security pact among tensions in the South China Sea caused primarily by China and its territorial ambitions.


Strategic framework[edit]

The initiation of an American, Japanese, Australian and Indian defense arrangement, modeled on the concept of a Democratic Peace, has been credited to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.[6] The Quadrilateral was supposed to establish an "Asian Arc of Democracy," envisioned to ultimately include countries in central Asia, Mongolia, the Korean peninsula, and other countries in Southeast Asia: "virtually all the countries on China’s periphery, except for China itself." This has led some critics, such as former US State Department official Morton Abramowitz, to call the project "an anti-Chinese move,"[7] while others (such as political scientist Michael Green) have called it a democratic challenge to China, mounted by Asian powers in coordination with the United States.[8] While China has traditionally favored the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Quadrilateral was viewed as an "Asian NATO;" Daniel Twining of the German Marshall Fund of the United States has written that the arrangement "could lead to military conflict," or could instead "lay an enduring foundation for peace" if China becomes a democratic leader in Asia.[9]

Fears over Chinese military spending and missile capacities had helped drive Australia towards a defense agreement with the United States, as outlined by the 2007 Canberra Defense Blueprint; Sandy Gordon of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute had recommended the sale of uranium to India on the basis of similar considerations, as it appeared that the United States was backing it as a "counter to a rising China."[10] Chinese anger over the Quadrilateral however caused uneasiness within Australia even before the agreements were initiated.[11]

A report published by the American think tank Center for a New American Security, CNAS, called for greater American engagement in Asia, arguing that in the early twenty-first century, " America’s strategic preoccupation in Iraq and Afghanistan is undermining its ability to adapt to major power shifts in the Asia-Pacific that are actively challenging America’s traditional balance of power role in the region."[12] Similarly prominent U.S. politicians from both Democratic and Republican parties have advocated a more aggressive diplomacy in Asia. During the 2008 US presidential campaign, President Obama called for a new worldwide concert of democracies to counter the influence of Russia and China in the UN Security Council; key officials of Obama's administration were involved in the Princeton Project, whose final report called for the construction of a new ‘concert of democracies.’[8] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Policy Planning Director at the State Department, Anne-Marie Slaughter, authored the Princeton Project’s final report, which "called for reconstituting the quadrilateral military partnership among the United States, Japan, Australia and India." John McCain also called for a "league of democracies," and Rudy Giuliani for incorporating Asia's militarily capable democracies into NATO.[8] The development of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue took place in the context of Chinese military modernization, geared towards contingency in Taiwan Strait but also towards "force projection capabilities."[8]

Trilateral Security Dialogue (TSD)[edit]

Representatives from Japan (left), the United States (center), and Australia (right) meet in 2019

The Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) was a series of trilateral meetings between the United States, Japan, and Australia. The TSD originally convened at senior officials level in 2002, then was upgraded to ministerial level in 2005. The United States expected regional allies to help facilitate evolving US global strategy to fight against terrorism and nuclear proliferation. In return, Japan and Australia expected benefits including continued US strategic involvement and the maintenance of strategic guarantees in the region.[13]

US-Indian military cooperation[edit]

Active US-Indian military cooperation expanded in 1991 following the economic liberalisation of India when American Lt. General Claude C. Kicklighter, then commander of the United States Army Pacific, proposed army-to-army cooperation.[14] This cooperation further expanded in the mid 1990s under an early Indian center-right coalition, and in 2001 India offered the United States military facilities within its territory for offensive operations in Afghanistan. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee signed a "New Framework for India-US Defense" in 2005 under the Indian United Progressive Alliance government, increasing cooperation regarding military relations, defense industry and technology sharing, and the establishment of a "Framework on maritime security cooperation."[14] India and the United States conducted dozens of joint military exercises in the ensuing years before the development of a Quadrilateral dialogue, interpreted by some as an effort to "contain" China.[14][1]


Naval vessels from the United States, Japan, India, Australia and Singapore take part in multilateral exercises in the Bay of Bengal in 2007.

In early 2007, Prime Minister Abe proposed the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or "Quadrilateral Initiative", under which India would join a formal multilateral dialogue with Japan, the United States and Australia.[15] China sent diplomatic protests to all four members of the Quadrilateral before any formal convention of its members.[16] The Japanese Prime Minister succeeding Abe, Taro Aso, downplayed the importance of China in Japan-India pact signed following the creation of the Quadrilateral, stating, "There was mention of China – and we do not have any assumption of a third country as a target such as China." Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon similarly argued that the defense agreement was long overdue because of Indian freight trade with Japan, and did not specifically target China.[17]

In May 2007 in Manila, Australian Prime Minister John Howard participated with other members in the inaugural meeting of the Quadrilateral at Cheney's urging, one month after joint naval exercises near Tokyo by India, Japan and the United States. In September 2007 further naval exercises were held in the Bay of Bengal, including Australia.[6] These were followed in October by a further security agreement between Japan and India, ratified during a visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Tokyo, to promote sea lane safety and defense collaboration; Japan had previously established such an agreement only with Australia.[6]

On the cusp of visits to China and meetings with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao in January 2008, the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, declared that "India is not part of any so-called contain China effort," after being asked about the Quadrilateral.[18]

In 2008 Kevin Rudd terminated the quadrilateral, signaling closer relations with China.

In February 2008, following his nomination as Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd visited China's foreign minister Yang Jiechi and asked Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith to unilaterally announce Australia's departure from the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.[19][20] Some US strategic thinkers criticized Rudd's decision to leave Quadrilateral; the former Asia director of the United States National Security Council, Mike Green, said that Rudd had withdrawn in an effort to please China, which had exerted substantial diplomatic effort to achieve that aim.[21] A December 2008 cable authored by US ambassador Robert McCallum and published by WikiLeaks reveals that Rudd did not consult United States before leaving the Quadrilateral.[22]

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard with US Ambassador Jeff Bleich in June 2010.

After Rudd's replacement as Australian prime minister by Julia Gillard in June 2010, there was continued debate over Australia's relationships with the United States and China.[23] But The Australian, which has written extensively on the Quadrilateral and on Australian defense issues, published an opinion article in 2010 by Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg arguing that "Australia's national interest is best served by continuing to engage and encourage our long-standing ally, the US, to retain its primacy in the region."[23] Despite Gillard's rapprochement with the US and increased US-Australian military cooperation, Rudd's decision to leave the Quadrilateral remained an object of criticism from Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party.[24]

Australia's decision not to sell uranium to India had weakened Quadrilateral alliances,[25] a move also criticized by the Liberal Party; the Party has however backed Gillard's support for a US military presence near Darwin, overlooking the Timor Sea and the Lombok Strait.[26] With support from the United States, Gillard and the Labor party have since reversed policy and backed the sale of uranium to India, which has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.[27] On 5 September 2014, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott agreed to sell Uranium to India.

During the 2017 ASEAN Summits all four former members rejoined in negotiations to revive the quadrilateral alliance. In November 2017 Japanese, Indian, Australian and American officials met to continue security cooperation ahead of the ASEAN and East Asia Summits.[28] The meeting included discussion of China's increased prominence in the South China Sea, and may have signaled U.S. president Trump's interest in reviving a formal Quadrilateral.[29]

The Quadrilateral met five times in 2017–2019.[30] Journalist Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury at The Economic Times of India has written that the organization aims to promote a "free and open Indo-Pacific amid China’s aggressive postures in the region."[30]

In March 2020, officials from the Quadrilateral met to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. They were joined by New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam for the first time.[31]

In July 2020, India, Japan and USA were in talks to invite Australia for a co-ordinated navy exercise at Malabar 2020 which is scheduled in the end of 2020, owing to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Australia is mostly likely to join the navy exercise.[32]

See also[edit]

International relations


  1. ^ a b Griffiths, James. "A border dispute with China may push India closer to some of Beijing's top rivals". CNN. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Australia and the Quad". Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  3. ^ "The Convenient Rewriting of the History of the 'Quad'". Nikkei Asian Review. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations 2009 Joint Communiqué". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  5. ^ Calmes, Jackie (16 November 2011). "Obama Says U.S. to Base 2,500 Marines in Australia". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Chellaney, Brahma. "Different playbooks aimed at balancing Asia’s powers". The Japan Times, 3 November 2008 (originally published by the BBC Monitoring South Asia).
  7. ^ Ching, Frank. "Asian Arc of Democracy" Archived 10 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine Korea Times, 24 February 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d Brooks, L., Busby, J. W., Denmark, A. M., Ford, L., Green, M. J., Ikenberry, G. J., Kaplan, R. D., Patel, N., Twining, D., and R. Weitz, 2009. "China’s Arrival: A Strategic Framework for a Global Relationship". Eds. Abraham Denmark and Nirav Patel, Center for a New American Security.
  9. ^ Twining, Daniel. "The new Asian order’s challenge to China". Financial Times, 26 September 2007.
  10. ^ McLennan, David, "Uranium sales to India will improve relations: think tank." Canberra Times, 1 June 2007.
  11. ^ Marsh, Virginia, "Warning on Beijing’s arms spending". Financial Times, 6 July 2007.
  12. ^ Campbell, K. M., Patel, N. and V. J. Singh, 2008. "The Power of Balance: America in iAsia". Center for a New American Security’’.
  13. ^ Tow, William (2008). "Assessing the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue". NBR Special Report. 16.
  14. ^ a b c Kumaraswami, Sridhar, "India, US Defence cooperation 'set to escalate.'" The Asian Age, 9 September 2007. Reprinted by the BBC monitoring South Asia.
  15. ^ Brewster, David(2010). "The Australia-India Security Declaration: The Quadrilateral Redux?". ANU.
  16. ^ Nicholson, Brendan. "China warns Canberra on security pact". The Age, 15 June 2007.
  17. ^ Varadarajan, Siddharth. "Indian PM stresses economic, security ties with Japan not at cost of China." The Hindu (via BBC Monitoring South Asia), 23 October 2008.
  18. ^ "PM says India not part of “so called contain China” effort" The Hindu, 11 January 2008.
  19. ^ "Chinese Ghost Story". thediplomat.com. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  20. ^ "PM may trump Rudd in managing China". The Australian. 21 April 2011. Archived from the original on 11 September 2012.
  21. ^ Sheridan, Greg, "Asia fears Rudd's China fixation", The Australian, 3 May 2008.
  22. ^ Callick, Rowan, "Rudd Revelations are Old News". The Australian, 9 December 2010.
  23. ^ a b Frydenberg, Josh, "Washington is integral to our region". The Australian, 21 September 2010.
  24. ^ Sheridan, Greg, "Popular reflections finding no favour in Beijing". The Australian, 18 November 2011.
  25. ^ Mattoo, Amitabh, "Time to invest in Indian partnership". The Australian, 17 August 2011.
  26. ^ Sheridan, Greg, "Come on down: Abbott would welcome US". The Australian, 3 September 2011.
  27. ^ Choudhury, Uttara "India can thank Uncle Sam for Julia Gillard's uranium backflip". Firstpost.com: India, 16 November 2011.
  28. ^ "Quadrilateral security dialogue: India, Australia, Japan, US hold talks on Indo-Pacific cooperation". Times of India. 12 November 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  29. ^ Wyeth, Grant (16 November 2017). "Why Has Australia Shifted Back to the Quad?". The Diplomat. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  30. ^ a b India's fine balancing act with Quad and BRICS meet in New York, Economic Times, 28 Sept 2019.
  31. ^ "Towards a Quad-Plus Arrangement?". Perth USAsia Centre. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  32. ^ "India may invite Oz for naval drill". Hindustan Times. 11 July 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.

External links[edit]