The leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. met in Washington on Sept. 24 for their first in-person summit for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. The four “Quad” nations issued a joint statement calling for annual meetings of leaders and foreign ministers. The improving relations among these countries, which share values like freedom, democracy and the rule of law, is particularly significant in deterring an increasingly authoritarian China.
The Quad countries declared they would confront challenges to the maritime order in the East and South China seas, and that they would strengthen cooperation on infrastructure development, activities in space and advanced technological research. The moves come as the U.S. and China work to close each other off from their semiconductor and communication technologies.
The four nations, wary of China’s maritime expansion in the Indo-Pacific, conducted naval drills in the Bay of Bengal in April. They were joined by France, which also has territories in the Pacific. The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has been working to further deter China while emphasizing cooperation with allies and like-minded countries.
As a part of this effort, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. created AUKUS, a new security framework focused on the Indo-Pacific. However, Australia’s sudden about-face from working with France to working with the U.K. and the U.S. on the deployment of nuclear submarines has caused some to worry about a rift in U.S.-Europe relations.
Leaders in Washington and Paris have spoken on the phone and taken the initial steps to resolve the situation. However, the U.S. should carefully adhere to protocol in dealing with allies and friendly nations so as not to disrupt its policy toward China.
In addition to China’s aggressive maritime actions, destabilizing moves by North Korea also require a multinational response. At a foreign ministers’ meeting ahead of the Quad summit, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. agreed to strengthen their deterrence against North Korean missile launches. With signs that Pyongyang has restarted the country’s nuclear facilities, the three democratic nations must urgently renew their cooperation.
In his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly, Biden maintained his firm stance on China but at the same time emphasized how the U.S. is “opening a new era of relentless diplomacy.” This position is commendable, as diplomatic efforts are becoming increasingly important to prevent the arms race in Asia from spinning out of control.
In his own speech at the U.N., Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his intention to reduce China’s carbon dioxide emissions. While that, too, is commendable, Washington and Beijing are still far apart on many issues. Given the high stakes involved, more governments should take an active role in contributing to regional stability, both through greater security cooperation and through dialogue.