Prospects and pitfalls for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue: A view from India

By Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan, Director-General, India's National Maritime Foundation (NMF),
and Dr Greta Nabbs-Keller, Research Fellow, Centre for Policy Futures – the University of Queensland (UQ)

The Quad is a strategic grouping comprised of the United States, Australia, Japan, and India. Vice-Admiral Pradeep Chauhan and Dr Greta Nabbs-Keller discuss the Quad’s strategic and foreign policy significance to India, and how it can best maximise its contribution to regional stability.

Established in 2007 with a focus on maritime security cooperation, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, referred to simply as “the Quad”, has seen commitment wax and wane among its member states, including India and Australia. However, in the face of China’s challenge to the maritime rules-based order, skirmishes on the Sino-Indian border, and the devastating impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Quad has found renewed diplomatic momentum. In November 2020, the Quad conducted its first joint naval exercise — “Malabar” — in the Bay of Bengal and north of the Arabian Sea. Following this year’s inaugural summit-level meeting, the Quad further expanded cooperation in health, climate change, and cyber and critical technologies.

Yet despite the Quad’s stated vision for a ”Free and Open Indo-Pacific” based on democratic values and international legal norms, it remains contentious among key Indo-Pacific states. A number of South East Asian states view the Quad as a direct challenge to ASEAN centrality and fear it will exacerbate strategic rivalries. China, meanwhile, has condemned the Quad as a “Cold War” construct and US containment mechanism, while Russia has expressed concerns about its impact on its close defence partnership with India.

Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan
is the Director-General of the National Maritime Foundation (NMF), India’s foremost resource centre for the development and advocacy of strategies for the promotion and protection of India’s maritime interests.

Dr Greta Nabbs-Keller is a Research Fellow at The University of Queensland’s Centre for Policy Futures.

Banner image: Ships from the Royal Australian Navy, Indian Navy, Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force, and US Navy sail in formation during Malabar 2020, Arabian Sea - November 17, 2020. Credit: US Pacific Fleet, Flickr. 

This article originally appeared on the Australian Institute of International Affairs website on August 12, 2021. This is a recording of an event held by AIIA Queensland on July 20, 2021.