'Quad Goals'

 Editorial |  2017-11-14 16:06:48.0

China's rampant muscle flexing across South East Asia has irked the attention of almost all leading countries of the developed world. Just as China making inroads isn't a secret, the worry of its neighbours (primarily India) and the anxiety of the so forth sought-after global leaders aren't hidden under a veil either. A collective initiative to tackle China has been impending on the cards for some time now. This bore some fruit in the ASEAN summit held in Manila in the last two days, where a critical 'quad' meet was held between USA, Japan, Australia, and India to deliberate on the prevailing conditions in the Indo-Pacific region.

The nomenclature saw a revisal, from the Asia-Pacific region it is now being read as the Indo-Pacific region, highlighting the growing relevance of India in battling China's supremacy in the growing global tensions. Though the meeting theoretically aimed to boost strategic relations between the concerned nations, the looming shadow of China gaining currency in this region could not be whisked out of sight. Trade and defence cooperation ruled the talks of the quad meet as leaders emphasised on the role of the four nations to propel strategic relations allowing for the successful exchange of goods, services and ideas. This grouping, first proposed in 2007, has made a comeback a decade later, and its credit goes entirely to the growing influence of China which is rattling the nations of the Indo-Pacific region. The re-election of Xi Jinping by the Communist Party Congress of China has furthered this exigency as China's growth now seems to be unabated even by internal inconsistencies. China is emerging as a global power, undoubtedly, and this has rattled the developed world, giving birth to nervousness among regional powers in Asia and also to the USA who has so forth held the position as the unquestioned world leader with utmost pride and grit. China's latent support to North Korea has bothered Japan, as has its quiet expansion over the South China Sea. China's extension of power is also seen by many as unethical entrepreneurship, where in lieu of providing heavy loans it ends up controlling revenues of the country—as has been exhibited in the case of the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka which is virtually under complete Chinese control now. The relation of India and China has never been quite welcoming, to be at a euphemistic best.

The recent Dokalam standoff further aggravated tensions as China's withdrawal still remains under a cloak of suspicion. China's refusal to support India's membership to the NSG and its latent approval of Pakistan's dirty politics has further unnerved India. The One Belt One Road initiative, which sees China connecting through Middle East till Africa, has again raised several eyebrows. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had first proposed this meeting of 'like-minded democracies' with Australia and India remaining inhibited. However, China's growing power which shows no signs of restraint, has increased the potential role of India as a counter-balance power. While China has undoubtedly emerged as the dark horse of modern civilisation there has been a dip in its cost competitiveness, its USP since the dawn of the 20th century. To tackle this, India plays a crucial role. India, instead of playing on the defence now, should take a forward stance in positioning itself on the global map. Despite some slumps in its economic output, India is today one of the fastest growing democracies of the world, and it has far fewer reasons to fear China's dragon economy than it did a few decades ago.
An impediment in India's foreign diplomacy has been this practice of remaining in the shadows, being tiresomely respectful even of nations like Pakistan which have not blinked an eye before launching aggressive attacks upon our sovereignty. With China too, we have witnessed similar exhibitions of meek demeanour from our leaders. There is little to fear today when India is set to take on the world as one of the leading global economies whose impacts can be felt across Asia. Taking a powerful stance against China's undue muscle flexing and unethical means of mining inroads would garner a more positive tomorrow for our diplomacy, which has earned the respect of most of the greater nations.
Nevertheless, India should also be cautious of the other nations, particularly the USA, as its interests in the quad are solely motivated by personal weariness. China's growth has rattled the Trump leadership particularly in its incapacity to tackle Pyongyang. India must express its faith in its own sovereignty, its capacity to tackle the world by its own merit without having to rely unduly on other nations. Collaboration is welcome as long as it equips collective interests and doesn't impede India's autonomy in geopolitical strategising.

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