By Hayley Channer on 14 September 2021
Indo-Pacific | International Relations
In March this year, the historic Quad Leaders’ Summit produced significant new commitments for action on COVID-19 vaccines, climate change and critical technology. This greatly expanded the Quad’s agenda, which had previously focused on maritime security cooperation. The debate over the Quad’s future in the Indo-Pacific regional order needs to be updated to focus on how a solidified grouping with an expanded remit can commit to practical action and sustainability.
Hayley Channer provides recommendations for the Quad to consolidate and prioritise its workload so it can deliver concrete outcomes for the region.
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On 29 September 2021, we held a webinar to discuss the publication. Author Hayley Channer
, Dr Huong Le Thu
, Dr Kyungjin Song
and Dr Jeffrey Wilson
discussed the report’s findings and spotlighted regional perspectives on the Quad’s track record since being elevated to Leaders’ level discussions.
With a second Leaders’ Summit imminent, the Quad should seize the opportunity to re-brand itself and consolidate its activities, according to a new report by the Perth USAsia Centre, Roadmap to Quad Success. It maps four practical steps for the Quad to focus its expanding agenda:
- Create an online portal for the Quad to brand the initiative, counter misinformation and provide greater accessibility
- Consolidate commitments into three ‘pillars’: regional public goods, technology and security cooperation
- Prioritise cooperation into these areas to provide structure and focus Quad engagement
- Launch projects in critical technology, quality infrastructure and supply chain resilience.
The ‘Quad’ grouping – comprised of Australia, the US, Japan and India – is often seen as a security counterweight to China.
However, imagining the Quad in purely security terms limits its potential. The Quad has broadened its aims to support open, liberal and rules-based approaches to regional affairs across the defence, economic and diplomatic spheres.
“Delivering on its commitments will help the Quad to improve credibility and attract regional backers”, said Channer. “If the Quad doesn’t follow through, it opens itself up to criticism of being ‘all talk and no action’,” Channer added.
In March 2021, the Quad upgraded to a Leaders-level summit and dramatically expanded its remit. Including commitments around COVID-19 vaccines and climate change, the Quad has now publicly declared 10 priority areas for cooperation.
With a second Leaders’ Summit planned for late 2021, the Quad must seize the initiative to focus its purpose and intent, and prove its utility to the region.
Regional support is key to the Quad achieving its goal of shaping behaviour and norms. “The Quad needs to convince the region it can make a positive contribution to the strategic environment, and it can do that through providing critical technology and infrastructure, and securing supply chains,” Channer said.
“The COVID-19 vaccine pledge struck a chord with the region: it’s trying to solve an urgent problem, it leverages each Quad member’s strengths, and it’s a very hard activity for China to criticise. The Quad needs more of these types of announcements, and this report offers precisely that”, Channer added.
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