April 14, 2021

Sharper: The Quad

Analysis from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges for U.S. foreign policy.

By Joshua Fitt, Isha Dalal and Chris Estep

Responses from the United States, Australia, India, and Japan to China's growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific will prove crucial in shaping the region's future. As Beijing continues to challenge the liberal international order in the world's most economically dynamic region, how can the Quad countries take advantage of new opportunities for cooperation? CNAS experts are sharpening the conversation about the growing importance of the Quad for the future of the Indo-Pacific. Continue reading this edition of Sharper to explore their ideas and recommendations.

Reports

Positive Visions, Powerful Partnerships

At a time when China’s growing global influence has begun to shift the regional balance of power, the pandemic has accelerated and exacerbated many trends in the Indo-Pacific, creating new challenges and opportunities for the United States. Without decisive, coordinated action, regional trends could continue on a trajectory that further favors Beijing. In a new CNAS report, experts Stephen Tankel, Lisa Curtis, Joshua Fitt, and Coby Goldberg argue that the United States must take action in close cooperation—bilaterally, trilaterally, and through the Quad—with Japan, Australia, and India to compete effectively with China in the diplomatic, economic, and defense domains.

Networked: Techno-Democratic Statecraft for Australia and the Quad

Technology stands at the core of today's strategic competition between China and the Quad countries. Countries with innovative advantages will drive the digital economy, gain political power and military strength, and shape global norms for technology use. In a new CNAS report, expert Martijn Rasser lays out a blueprint for techno-democratic statecraft in the Quad. This report examines the technologies propelling rapid change, the competing visions for technology use driving geopolitical strains, and the opportunities and challenges posed by Quad members' approaches to technology.

Harnessing Multilateralism for Digital Development

"The nexus between digital connectivity and international development objectives is a critical one," experts Kristen A. Cordell and Kristine Lee find in a recent CNAS policy brief. "Washington and its allies—with their shared principles of development and commitment to evidence-based approaches—should be at the helm of mobilizing international cooperation on digital development."

Indo-Pacific Security

Positive Visions, Powerful Partnerships

Restoring U.S. alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific is critical to competing effectively against China....

Technology & National Security

Networked: Techno-Democratic Statecraft for Australia and the Quad

Australia is well positioned to lead the Quad to achieve important technology policy objectives....

Indo-Pacific Security

Harnessing Multilateralism for Digital Development

Uneven access to digital technology is magnifying societal inequities around the world....

Events

India, China, and the Quad: The Future of U.S. Strategy in the Indo-Pacific

The Indo-Pacific has emerged as the world’s economic and geopolitical center of gravity. More than ever before, America’s place in the world will hinge on whether it can get the Indo-Pacific right. This February, CNAS hosted a special event to explore these challenges. Lisa Curtis, the inaugural CNAS Indo-Pacific Security Program Director, was joined by Demetri Sevastopulo, U.S.-China Correspondent for the Financial Times, for a moderated discussion. CNAS CEO Richard Fontaine provided opening remarks.

Maintaining the Momentum: U.S.-India Relations under the Biden Administration

The United States and India have an opportunity to significantly boost collaboration on defense, technology, health security, global economic development, and other issues both bilaterally and through multilateral engagement, including with the Quad. In March, CNAS hosted a special event on the U.S.-India strategic partnership featuring Ambassador Kenneth Juster, former U.S. Ambassador to India (2017–2021); Ambassador Richard Verma, former U.S. Ambassador to India (2014–2017); Richard Fontaine, CNAS CEO; and Lisa Curtis, Director of the CNAS Indo-Pacific Security Program.

Commentaries

How Biden's Foreign Policy Approach Builds On Trump's

"Holding a leaders-level Quad meeting once seemed unfathomable, given China's protests that the alliance would focus on containing the rising superpower," writes Lisa Curtis for CNN Opinion. "The Covid-19 pandemic, combined with China's aggressive behavior in recent years, highlighted the need for powerful democracies to work together to protect the health of their populations and the prosperity of their economies along with the rules-based order that has governed the Indo-Pacific and beyond for the last several decades."

Washington Should Keep Calm and Watch the Australians

Richard Fontaine argues in the Australian Financial Review that, "at a moment of bitter division in the United States, Australia has produced a ray of bipartisan sunshine in Washington. Startled by the rapid deterioration of Australia’s relations with China, and outraged by a faked tweet sent by Beijing’s foreign policy spokesman, Republicans and Democrats are singing a rare note of agreement."

Enhancing Forward Defense: The Role of Allies and Partners in the Indo-Pacific

"Even though U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific are essential to meeting the challenge of a rising, assertive China, U.S. defense policy has not adapted to the reality of a changed strategic environment or the evolving needs and defense priorities of key allies," write Charles Edel and Siddharth Mohandas in the Next Defense Strategy series. "The new National Defense Strategy (NDS) presents an opportunity for the next secretary of defense to do three things to remedy this."

Indo-Pacific Security

How Biden's foreign policy approach builds on Trump's

The Biden Administration is right to strengthen the Quad as a way to help meet the challenges associated with a rising China....

Indo-Pacific Security

Washington should keep calm and watch the Australians

At a moment of bitter division in the United States, Australia has produced a ray of bipartisan sunshine in Washington....

Defense

Enhancing Forward Defense: The Role of Allies and Partners in the Indo-Pacific

An effective next NDS requires a clear plan for marshaling and organizing the efforts of U.S. allies and partners in new ways....

In the News

Featuring commentary and analysis by Joshua Fitt, Jordan Schneider, Lisa Curtis, and Richard Fontaine.

Indo-Pacific Security

Biden Builds Out China Team With Staff Who Reflect Tougher Tone

President Joe Biden is filling out his China policy team with staff whose past writing and speeches align with the tough tone toward Beijing that emerged under his predecessor...

Indo-Pacific Security

Joe Biden enlists ‘Quad’ allies to counter China

President Joe Biden is poised to hold the first ever quadrilateral US summit with the leaders of Japan, India and Australia, as the four countries step up co-operation in an e...

Indo-Pacific Security

ChinaTalk: Japan's China Challeng‪e‬

Joshua Fitt cohosts the latest episode of ChinaTalk to discuss the relationship and challenges Japan faces with China. Listen to the full episode from ChinaTalk....

About the Sharper Series

The CNAS Sharper series features curated analysis and commentary from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges in U.S. foreign policy. From the future of America's relationship with China to the state of U.S. sanctions policy and more, each collection draws on the reports, interviews, and other commentaries produced by experts across the Center to explore how America can strengthen its competitive edge.

Subscribe

Sign up to receive the latest analysis from the CNAS expert community on the most important issues facing America's national security.