Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] China remains wary of the Quad

China remains worried about the advantages the quadrilateral dialogue process might offer to India in the Indo-Pacific.
By IASToppers
December 14, 2019


  • Introduction
  • Evolution of Quad
  • China against Quad
  • Views of Quad countries on China
  • Conclusion

China remains wary of the Quad

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quad-grouping-11US recently said that Quad (Japan, Australia, India and the United States) would ensure that China retains only its proper place in the world. In response, China condemn US statement as habitual lies and malicious slandering. Yet, the spotlight is on the future of the Quad, which convened again on November 4 at the level of senior officials on the margins of the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Bangkok.

Evolution of Quad

The full form of ‘Quad’ is Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. It is an informal strategic dialogue between four countries i.e. United States, Japan, Australia and India.

The idea of Quad or Quadrilateral grouping was first proposed by Japanese prime minister in 2007. In 2008, Australia decided to withdraw from Quad as it found that Quad is an obstacle in Australia-China economic relationship.

In December 2012 Japan cited Quad as Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond” to safeguard the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific. This prompted China to immediately act on its claims in the South China Sea and also vigorously promote the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to counter Quad.

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to counter Quad.3 China remains wary of the Quad

However, during the 2017 ASEAN Summits, all four former members rejoined in negotiations to revive the quadrilateral alliance.

Significance of Quad

  • It gives emphasis to rising significance of maritimegeopolitics in Indian Ocean.
  • The Quad grouping is regarded as an answer to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is establishing a China-centric trade route.
  • Quad aims to ensure that the Indo- Pacific remains free and open.

China against Quad

  • China sees Quad as an Asian version of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Beginning with maritime-centric concerns, it was gradually seen by China as a means to target China in the wider Indo-Pacific theatre.
  • China believes that the concept of Quad was initiated by US to contain China’s rise, to oppose the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), to question its developmental finance and connectivity projects and to lay foundation for a military alliance to undermine China’s future.
  • Quad aims to promote safe and free Indo-Pacific. However, for China, a switch from Asia-Pacific to Indo-Pacific deter its pre-dominance over Indian Ocean.
  • China sees ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as an opportunity to divert the issue of Indo-Pacific away from the Quad’s focus. This can be seen in recent China-ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting in Bangkok where China endorsed greater efforts to work together on the BRI, upholding stability in the South China Sea, engaging in joint maritime exercises etc.

Views of Quad countries on China

US views on China: US has described China as a strategic rival in its National Security Strategy, National Defence Strategy.

Japan views on China: Japan is trying to make better ties with China. China also want to work with Japan on agreed-upon projects in third countries.  

Australia views on China: Australia’s has been careful to highlight continued commitment to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China. In late-2018, Australian Prime Minister sent a clear message to China to check its growing involvement in South Pacific region, which Australia perceives as its own.

On the other hand, as Australia wants freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. Hence, China wants to leverage its deep economic engagement with Australia’s security and intelligence establishment.

India’s views on China:

Positive relation

India’s commitment to strategic autonomy suggest that India would never agree to fully align itself with the US against China. This was reinforced by

  • India holding up Australia’s participation in the annual Malabar naval exercise, currently limited to just three of the four Quad nations.
  • India not joining the Indo-Pacific Business Council.
  • Prime Minister of India’s speech at the Shangri-La event
  • The recent Mamallapuram summit between President of China and Indian PM

Negative relations

On the other hand, India’s decision permitted the recent Quad meeting at the ministerial level. This decision came after China’s unsuccessful attempts to support Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir against abrogation of article 370.


China remains worried about the advantages that the Quad process might offer to India in the Indo-Pacific. Naturally, it will seek to use its considerable bilateral engagement with Japan, Australia as well as India to ensure that the Quad does not convert from a mechanism focused on connectivity and Infrastructure and maritime security to an “Asian NATO”.


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