What is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue? It has no website and is rarely mentioned in the media. Yet this alliance of four nations (for that is what it is), could be the decisive group in shaping the stability, security and progress of the whole Indo-Pacific region, and therefore of the whole world.

The four nations involved in the Quad are the United States, Australia, India and Japan. The association and common interests of these four powerful democracies has been discussed in vague terms in the past but is now assuming a new significance. U.S. President Donald Trump clearly sees the Quad idea as a key part of America's unfolding Asia policy, and this explains his administration's increasingly strong focus on U.S.-Indian relations in particular.

The big thought behind it is this. China's remarkable growth and dynamism is to be admired, but an Asia dominated entirely by an ambitious China, pushing outward with its Belt and Road Initiative through Central Asia and with its newly constructed South China Sea islands, is much less welcome. A China that is prospering is plainly good for its neighbors and the global economy. After all, China is Japan's second-biggest export market, and Australia's No. 1 export market as well. That's fine, but no one wants to be completely rolled over by the Chinese giant. Trade, yes, but not if it leads to domination.