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Biden follows Trump’s footsteps in the Indo- Pacific – Free PDF Download

  • When Biden was elected, there was uncertainty over the Quad’sfuture, including whether the new president would carry forward hispredecessor’s “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy. Even the term“Indo-Pacific” was conspicuously absent in Biden’s presidentialcampaign statements and the 2020 Democratic Party Platform, whichrepeatedly used the old name for the region that China prefers —“Asia-Pacific.”
  • It was only after Biden was sworn in as president that he beganspeaking about a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” He then proposed theQuad summit, which was held virtually because of the coronaviruspandemic. Calling the Quad “a vital arena for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific,” Biden told the other leaders at the meeting that this was the“first multilateral summit that I’ve had the opportunity to host aspresident.”

  • The summit was a testament to the fact that the Biden administrationinherited a coherent and realistic strategy on the Indo-Pacific, withthe Quad at its core. The Quad has gradually sharpened its edges inrecent years in response to China’s aggressive expansionism.
  • Just six months ago, China dismissed the idea that an international coalitionagainst it will emerge, saying “that day will never, ever come.” But, thanks toChina’s heavy-handed use of its military and economic power, that day iscoming. China has fueled the Quad’s development. For example, its militaryaggression in the northernmost Indian borderlands of Ladakh since April 2020has helped to move India closer into this strategic grouping.
  • It is precisely this border aggression that has lent new momentum to theQuad’s progress toward a concrete and formal security arrangement. Indiaholds the key to the Quad’s direction and future because the U.S., Australiaand Japan already are tied by bilateral and trilateral security alliances amongthemselves.
  • The surprise from the Biden-initiated Quad summit was that – unlike the pastmeetings of the Quad foreign ministers – it yielded a joint statement, whicharticulated a clear-eyed vision. “We strive for a region that is free, open,inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained bycoercion,” the statement declared.
  • Despite China’s lengthening shadow, the Quad summit, however, offered little in terms of concrete strategic counteraction. If anything, itsvaccine initiative illustrated how a public-relations exercise can be spun into a major summit success. The summit’s “breakthrough” deal centeredon helping India’s Biological E firm to produce 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of 2022, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Butthe firm has confirmed that it already can produce more than 1 billion vaccine doses a year.
  • The Biden White House would do well to grasp the urgency of developing an actionable and durable American-led approach to China, which isbecoming increasingly assertive, expansionist and authoritarian. In fact, the Quad’s unifying theme is opposing China’s aggressive revisionism.
  • To be sure, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s aggressive policies, underlined by his hegemony-seeking “Chinese dream,” will ensure that the Quadcontinues to solidify and actively work toward establishing a new multilateral Indo-Pacific security structure. Even powers like France, Germanyand Canada now view a rules-based Indo-Pacific as pivotal to international security. They are strengthening maritime collaboration with the Quadstates.
  • Last November’s “Malabar” navalwar games in the Indian Ocean – thefirst-ever Quad military drills – havebeen followed by “Sea Dragon,” ananti-submarine warfare exercise inJanuary that involved the Quadmembers and Canada, and thescheduling of another Quad-plus navalexercise, the “La Pérouse” drills withFrance, for April 4.
  • As Biden develops great strategicclarity on China, the Quad is likely tobecome the central dynamic of hisIndo-Pacific policy. Xi’s renegadeexpansionism could even help build agrand international coalition, with theQuad at its core.

 

 

 

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