November 11, 2017

The Quad: US and its allies want insurance against instability and coercion in Asia

By Richard Fontaine

If all goes according to plan, officials from the United States, Australia, Japan and India will sit down together on the margins of next week's East Asia Summit. The gathering will mark a resurrection of "The Quad", the four-way dialogue that kicked off in 2007, and which died the following year after Canberra's withdrawal. Re-establishing a forum in which the four like-minded democracies can discuss and coordinate their regional aims is a modest but meaningful step in the right direction. Done right, the meeting should generate not only a few headlines, but also spur concrete four-party cooperation.

Today, the Indo-Pacific region is witnessing a shift in the balance of power and a changing mix of competition and cooperation. China's rising assertiveness is the most distinctive element, with its military modernisation, One Belt One Road infrastructure efforts, tendency toward illiberalism and penchant for coercion together focusing minds across the region. To this should be added North Korea's missile and nuclear provocations, the ever-present challenge of terrorism, a proliferation of cyber attacks and the need to respond to large-scale natural disasters. The demand for attention and resources – particularly but not exclusively in the security sphere – is rising faster than the US and its allies can provide them.

Read the full op-ed in Financial Review.

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