The foreign ministers of “Quad” nations Japan, the U.S., Australia and India agreed last month that they “strongly” oppose any attempts by China to alter the status quo in the Indo-Pacific region by force, in their first such meeting since the change of the U.S. administration.
Fine words, but how can they act in concert to keep China’s regional ambitions in check? In a long-read API Geoeconomic Briefing, Doshisha University professor Takashi Terada compares Japan-Australia ties in Asia to the Franco-German axis in Europe as a force for regional stability, and urges both countries to strengthen bilateral ties to ease trade dependence on China.
In another commentary in the same series, Yuichi Hosoya stresses the need for Tokyo and Canberra to team up with the U.S. and U.K. to shore up values and ideals in the region, given the two latter countries’ roles in drawing up the “San Francisco system,” the foundation of postwar cooperation in Asia.
Japan and Australia also have leading roles to play in helping digitalize the region through the use of undersea cables, argues Jun Murai in another API column, to ensure stable telecommunications and also allay security concerns that come with reliance on Chinese technology infrastructure.
Similarly in India, defense experts fear allowing Chinese 5G tech into the country would seriously compromise the entire command and communication structure of the Indian military, writes commentator Prakash Panneerselvam. He notes that cyber-cooperation between Tokyo and New Delhi is on an upward trajectory, with Japan’s NEC currently laying fiber-optic cables between the subcontinent and a number of Indian islands.
But wait: The Quad’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific approach is not supposed to be about bashing China, but rather ensuring the region is run according to internationally accepted rules, writes Canuck Stephen Nagy. And that is something that democratic countries outside the Quad — such as Canada — should be able to get behind, he writes, particularly in the post-Trump era.