By Arul Louis
New York, July 31 : The Quad group of India, US, Japan and Australia can be the “bulwark” of a global challenge to China’s aggressive behaviour, according to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“There are lots of places where we are finding common touchpoints, where we can develop real strength and unity that can, in fact, provide the bulwark that we can build out from all across the world,” Pompeo said on Thursday replying to a question about the Quad and China’s challenge during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
“The good news is that this grouping is stronger than it’s ever been,” he said.
He mentioned the idea of “a new alliance of democracies” and said there were discussions with “friends” in the region about it.
He presented a picture of the Quad drawing closer together with an understanding of achieving security in response to aggressive actions by China under Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping.
Its strength “maybe we were gifted by General Secretary Xi. He took actions that caused leaders in each of these countries to recognise the value of this group,” he said.
Republican Senator David Perdue, who heads the Senate Seapower Subcommittee, referred to reports that India was considering inviting Australia this year to the Malabar Exercise with the navies of the other two calling it a “great development.”
Noting that the economies of the four countries together is twice that of China, he asked Pompeo to comment on how important the Quad is for meeting the challenge posed by China to global security.
Pompeo said, “It is more populous than China as well. These are nations that all have elected leaders all have democracies all understand in different cultures and in different settings all have a central understanding of about how commercial enterprise would be conducted and how military should engage and about how security is actually achieved.”
He said that he was in frequent touch with the other leaders of the Quad and “we are working on economic efforts together, we are working on COVID responses together.”
Besides the military provocation, Beijing is also presenting an economic and political challenge with strategic implications through its One Belt One Road initiative.
The Quad has yet to put together a joint infrastructure aid programmes, even though it has been suggested.
According to the Australian Foreign Ministry, at a Quad consultation in Bangkok last year, officials from the four nations discussed “quality, sustainable and transparent infrastructure development in improving economic growth, connectivity, sustainable development and integration in our region.a
Japan became a permanent invitee in 2015 after having participated intermittently in the Malabar Exercises that began in 1992 between India and the US. Australia had expressed interest in joining the exercise since at least 2015, but had been kept out.
With the changed geopolitical situation as China has become more aggressive in Indo-Pacific region with its maritime neighbours and in South Asia with India and Bhutan, Australia is expected to be invited to the Malabar Exercise to be hosted by India this year.
The Quad grew out of the cooperation of the four countries during the 2004 tsunami. In 2007 a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue was held at the initiative of Japan to discuss strategic cooperation.
But it floundered after Australia dropped out the next year in hopes of improving ties with China.
The Quad was slowly revived in 2017 as the spectre of China loomed over the region.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)
Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.