One of President Trump’s best foreign policy initiatives (after the Abraham Accords) was resuscitating the informal defense coordination between the United States, Japan, Australia and India to better face China. Part of Trump’s assertive policy to counter China, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, better known as ‘the QUAD,’ mission is to promote a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” (RELATED: US Responds After China Says Its Forces Surrounded Taiwan in Latest Invasion ‘Rehearsal’)
Downplayed by the anti-Trump media, and derided by Chinese officials, the four countries have held two joint naval exercises since 2020.
And since President Biden has fully endorsed the group, trying to make it his own, the four leaders have met three times since last year — including a summit at the White House.
Despite a long delay in designing a U.S. Pacific strategy beyond what Team Trump had already devised to counter China, Biden has slowly followed his predecessor’s robust policies to finally counter China’s aggressive and belligerent expansionism. (RELATED: Deputy Defense Secretary Defends Biden’s Failed Deterrence)
As CNN reports:
On Tuesday, the four leaders will meet face to face again in Tokyo. Their summit will be a highlight of Joe Biden’s first trip to Asia as the US President, as he seeks to strengthen alliances and partnerships to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
The renewed activity has seen China’s initial scorn turn into alarm, with Beijing viewing the grouping as part of Washington’s attempt to encircle the country with strategic and military allies. Wang, the foreign minister, has decried the grouping as an “Indo-Pacific NATO,” accusing it of “trumpeting the Cold War mentality” and “stoking geopolitical rivalry.”
That concern has only grown since the Ukraine crisis. Beijing’s backing of Moscow has further damaged its global image, leaving it more isolated on the world stage. And that is not helped by China’s insistence on a zero-Covid policy, in which stringent border restrictions are cutting the country off from a world that has largely moved on from the pandemic.
While Biden travels the world to reinforce ties, his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping hasn’t left China in 25 months. Biden’s latest flurry of diplomacy, with stops in South Korea and Japan, has particularly irked Beijing.
Despite dismissing the QUAD in 2018, saying: “They are like the sea foam in the Pacific or Indian Ocean: they may get some attention, but soon will dissipate,” China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is now singing a different tune.
He now claims that the QUAD’s “purpose is to contain China and make Asia-Pacific countries serve as ‘pawns’ of US hegemony.”
While China blames the U.S. for the QUAD, it is mostly a response to Communist China’s belligerence and threats.
As Yuki Tatsumi, co-director of the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center, notes: “The biggest driver of the Quad’s revival is the growing assertiveness and aggressiveness of China.”
He adds: “Its behavior not only in the East and South China Seas but also in the Indian Ocean all the way down around the Pacific islands area resulted in bringing Quad countries’ perception of China closer together.”
Though the informal grouping is far from being a ‘Pacific NATO,’ as China’s threat grows, so should the QUAD.