The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, otherwise known as the Quad, has become a critical component in the United States’ strategy in the Indo-Pacific since it was revived in 2017. While not a formal military alliance, its four members — Australia, India, Japan, and the United States — are powerful and influential democracies that, collectively, possess the ability to push back against China’s growing regional assertiveness.
However, at its core, Southeast Asia is a region where the forces of great power competition push against critical and deep economic linkages with both the U.S. and China, thus complicating the strategic landscape. By necessity, the Quad must navigate the resulting complex set of regional attitudes toward the China-U.S. rivalry. This makes how the group identifies its purpose a delicate, but critical, balance to strike if it wants to effectively compete with Beijing in its own backyard. The first-ever in-person Quad summit, currently scheduled for late September, following the U.N. General Assembly, provides an opportunity to develop the contours of a Quad strategy to do just that.
The Quad must navigate the resulting complex set of regional attitudes toward the China-U.S. rivalry
When the group convened in Tokyo for a ministerial meeting last October, then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed support for both institutionalizing the Quad and building out a “true security framework.” The Biden administration has so far focused more of its attention on non-security related issues – like vaccines, technology, and climate change. Now, with the Quad’s future a subject of continued debate, policymakers should look to the sentiments from across Southeast Asia for insights.
A recent influential public opinion poll of regional elites reveals that one of the greatest concerns expressed about the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is that the institution “is becoming an arena of major power competition and its member states may become proxies of a major power.” When it comes to perceived challenges facing the region, respondents ranked the top three as the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment and economic recession, and widening socioeconomic gaps and rising income disparity.
Read the full article from The Diplomat.
More from CNAS
VideoQUAD grouping is about competing with China and countering its aggressive behavior
Lisa Curtis talks about the QUAD summit and developments of the much-awaited meet with WION. Watch the full conversation from WION....
By Lisa Curtis
CommentaryThe Biden administration just stalled China’s advance in the Indo-Pacific
Australia, by intensifying the military competition with China, could tee up a chain of as yet unforeseen events....
By Robert D. Kaplan
CommentarySharper: Indo-Pacific Partnerships & Allies
Through the Quad and the newly minted, yet controversial, AUKUS agreement, Washington is increasing its focus and resources on the Indo-Pacific region. The White House is also...
By Anna Pederson
CommentaryHow America Should Deal With the Taliban
As the United States ends its mission in Afghanistan, U.S. policymakers have already begun to reckon with American military failures over 20 years of fighting. But the war’s d...
By Lisa Curtis