Diplomatic Eye: EP-06

Quad and its impact in South Asia (Video)

The “Quadrilateral Security Dialogue” (QSD), which is euphemistically called Quad, is an informal strategic gathering that includes the United States of America (USA), India, Australia, and Japan. One of the key objectives of the Quad, as it claims, is to work for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, prosperous, and inclusive. The initial meeting of the group took place in 2007 during the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). After the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, these four nations came together in an unofficial alliance to coordinate relief operations. In 2007, the partnership was formally established as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue by Shinzo Abe, who was Japan’s prime minister at the time.

Table: 1
Quad Members

SN Quad’s Member Countries
1. USA
2. Japan
3. Australia
4. India


The third in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit took place with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan, and President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of the United States. They released the joint statement on 20 May, 2023.

The Quad Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific region, aiming to navigate uncertainty and opportunity together. They prioritized regional needs and are transparent, respecting regional institutions. The Quad Leaders’ Vision Statement outlined a shared vision for the region, highlighting ASEAN centrality, ASEAN leadership, Indonesia’s 2023 ASEAN Chairmanship, and the United States’ commitment to partnering with Pacific island countries. They prioritized Pacific priorities including climate action, ocean health, resilient infrastructure, maritime security and financial integrity.

The joint statement further stated that the climate crisis is a pressing issue affecting the Indo-Pacific region, and the United Nations and regional architecture are committed to addressing it individually and collectively.

Quad leaders committed to capacity building for countries in the region and support capacity building through the Quad Space Working Group. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of its Sustainable Development Goals, emphasizing the UN’s central role in supporting countries in their implementation. The United Nations condemns the ongoing war in Ukraine and its humanitarian consequences, supports dialogue and diplomacy, condemns North Korea’s destabilizing ballistic missile launches and nuclear weapons pursuit, urges full implementation, and condemns terrorism and violent extremism.

When Quad has these initiatives for harnessing opportunities in Indo-pacific why do countries like US, UK and Australia came up with the idea of forming AUKUS?

On September 15, 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States announced the AUKUS trilateral security agreement. The US and the UK will assist Australia in buying nuclear-powered submarines under the deal. The agreement includes collaboration in these fields as well as advanced cyber mechanisms, AI and autonomy, quantum technologies, underwater capabilities, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic, electronic warfare, innovation and information sharing. The emphasis on military capability will set the deal apart from the intelligence-sharing alliance known as the Five Eyes, which also includes Canada and New Zealand.

Table 2
AUKUS Members

SN AUKUS Member Countries
1. Australia
2. UK
3. US

It gives the impression that Western countries and pacific country like Australia involved in AUKUS do not seem to trust India.

India dislikes its current military strategy in the conflict with Ukraine. It is reluctant to sever ties with Russia, a longtime trading partner. Ambassador Pradhumna Bikram Shah is adamant that the US and its European allies do not appear to trust India because India did not join the US-led allies in the Russia-Ukraine war. India, on the other hand, is opposed to a single global power; as part of India’s strategic autonomy, it seems to believe in several global powers and enjoys multi-aligned partners.

Alyssa Ayres, the Professor at George Washington University writes in the Time Magazine that India is not a US ally and has never wanted to be.  She asserts that multilaterally, India’s participation in the rapidly uniting “Quad” consultation, has given Washington and New Delhi, both of whom are wary of China, a common goal. However, New Delhi also supports alternative non-Western organisations like the BRICS and continues to oppose institutions crucial to American diplomacy like the G7 and the U.N. Security Council. Prof. Ayres clearly states that defence, global health, sustainable development, climate, and technology are just a few of the areas where the United States and India cooperate today. However, significant contrasts still exist, such as Washington’s worries about Modi’s India’s democratic backsliding and its unwillingness to denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In other words, although the U.S.-India relationship has changed over the past 25 years, it has not resulted in a partnership or alignment comparable to the strongest U.S. alliances.

Middle East Quad
There is Middle East Quad, new security risks for China. The new I2U2 organization, which is named for its members India, Israel, the US, and the United Arab Emirates, has the declared objective of concentrating on economics. China is afraid that its role may enlarge to include containing India’s expanding influence in the region.

Table 3
I2U2 Members

SN I2U2 Members
1. India
2. Israel
3. US
4. United Arab Emirates(UAE)

China’s response to Quad
China has been closely monitoring the activities of Quad since its inception. Some critics of Quad termed it as Asian NATO. South China Morning Post wrote that in response to China’s increasing assertiveness in the region, the naval forces of the US, Japan, Australia, and India started its joint Malabar defensive exercise on Friday, August 11, 2023 in Sydney. This was the first time Australia had hosted the war games.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the China-Arab States Summit, the China-Central Asia Summit, the China-Horn of Africa Peace, Governance and Development Conference, among many others, are examples of China-led multilateralism that were created as a strategic response to US-led fora.

Through August 21, the Quad nations will conduct joint training exercises comprising marine and air defence manoeuvres in Sydney Harbour and off the east coast of Australia. Around 2,000 people, including about 170 Japanese, will participate.

India and China have a big duty to keep the area peaceful and stable. We won’t need to invite our far-off neighbours if China and India really work to promote peace, prosperity, and stability in the area.

Quad, its intention and Future
In a conversation with me, former Ambassador and former Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister of Nepal, Dr. Dinesh Bhattarai asserted that Geo-political landscape has transformed after the visit of US President Barak Obama in Australia in November 2011. Obama was addressing at the Australian parliament with a firm commitment that US planned and budgeted for the future of Asia pacific region, he asserted. Hosseini et. al (2018) believed that the pivot to Asia policy was adopted (and put into effect) by President Obama in 2011. They recommended that the US adopted and carried out the Pivot to Asia strategy in order to “prevent the Chinese Hegemony” while it was being achieved through economic and security levers. Obama’s speech at Australian parliament revealed that American interests demand their presence in the region. He said, “Our enduring interests in the region demand our enduring presence in the region.  The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay” (Obama, 2011 at Australian Parliament).

The US foreign policy’s goals and resource allocation were significantly shifted away from the Middle East and Europe as a result. The pivot also entailed taking the lead in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and rejecting Chinese claims to the islands in the South China Sea. Most people thought that the US’s shift in policy towards East China was an effort to halt China’s growing influence in the region. ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy is not a single move, it is rather bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral and multilateral initiatives as and when required, according to Dr. Bhattarai.

The US’s commitment to the stability and development of South Asia was questioned by Brigadier General Dr. Prem Singh Basnyat. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the US began labelling Iran and North Korea as hostile nations. The US was the one who incited animosity against these countries. General Basnyat proclaimed that history demonstrates with the fact that the US is predicated on a war economy that has sold millions of dollars’ worth of weapons and ammunition. However, if we examine Chinese history, we see that China does not have a tradition of selling weaponry. Since ancient times, the Silk Road has placed increased emphasis on ethical commercial practises. Africa has begun to take notice of China, which is not only well-liked in Asia and Europe. Sincerely speaking, Cinese products have satisfied about half of global demand. The US appears to have realized that China is now the US’s biggest economic danger.

Quad does not have a viable future since the member nations want to restrict and retaliate against China. Instead than fostering a hostile climate in the Indo-Pacific area, it is wise to resolve their internal conflicts and concerns. India, one of its members, is having numerous issues in Manipur, Panjab, and Kashmir. Prioritising the resolution of internal conflicts over joining a regional group whose goal is to restrain China is the best course of action.

One of the retired Army General revealed that the idea of being a part of the US ally in the block such as Quad is not a good one. In the current circumstances, angering China also angers Russia. As a result, the future of the Quad will be similar to that of the SAARC.

Small States’ Strategy
Author Dev Raj Dahal pointed out three important strategies of small states for their survival. The first is making it difficult for great powers to unintentionally infiltrate the country’s key strategic areas or weak spots; the second is developing a strong self-defense to ensure national security, a thriving economy, social cohesion, and national identity; and the third is diverting great powers’ attention from unhealthy competition with one another within the country and acquiring the innate ability to resist their unfavorable policies and initiatives and neutralize them.

Our two closest neighbours, the countries that have advanced in the world, are China and India. India and China have a big duty to keep the area peaceful and stable. We won’t need to invite our far-off neighbours if China and India really work to promote peace, prosperity, and stability in the area.

The 18th G20 Summit, which is slated for September 9–10, will be presided over by India. The attendance of Chinese President Xi Jinping has not yet been officially announced. If President Xi visits India, it will be a chance to improve ties between the two countries. If relations between China and India do not go well, there will be greater consequences in terms of both, level and magnitude.

Table 4
G20 Members

Total Numbers G20 Members
19 Countries plus European Union Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Türkiye, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union


Given the geopolitical and strategic sensitivity of Nepal’s location, we must exercise greater caution. In this back drop, Nepal needs to be extra-ordinarily conscious and exceptionally vigilant on the recent development in the region.

Maj General Retired Dr Purna Silwal believes that the QUAD is a significant deterrence factor in the changing world order. It aims to maintain current US dominance and order in South-China and Indian Ocean for open, free and prosperous Indo-Pacific. Dr. Silwal absolutely believes that given its population size, economic size and military power, India intends to be a global power. It wants to be a permanent member in the UN Security Council and for that it has abandoned non-alignment movement and adopted multi-alignment strategy. At the regional level it wants to isolate Pakistan, make the SAARC non-functional and deal with rest of the South Asian countries separately for that matter. According to Global Times, some people refer to the US, Japan, Australia, and India-led coalition known as the Quad as “Asian NATO.” The Euro Quad aspires to bring together the most affluent nations in the union to forge a stronger consensus, while acting more like an elite group inside NATO.

The QUAD, in Dr. Silwal’s word, is particularly formed to contain growing Chinese influence in Indo-Pacific. It would put an increased pressure on Nepal to take side in the event of military escalation between China and the US as India would possibly side with the later.

Hence, Nepal must strictly maintain its neutrality and non-alignment to avoid being dragged into a conflict which wouldn’t be in Nepal´s core interest.

 (I acknowledge Ambassador Pradhumna Bikram Shah, Ambassador Dr. Dinesh Bhattarai, Major General(retd) Dr. Purna Silwal, Brigadier General (retd) Dr. Prem Singh Basnyat and Writer Dev Raj Dahal for their valuable time and inputs).