A new geopolitical bloc has emerged constituting India, America, Japan and Australia with the sole motive to ensure maritime security and freedom of navigation in international waters. This is explicitly aimed at providing a robust counter to China’s expansionist attitude at seas.
The quadrilateral coalition yesterday in Manila held its first official-level talks to keep the Indo-Pacific region free, open and inclusive. Then, the four countries issued separate statements listing Indo-Pacific as the major area of their discussions and resolved to work towards upholding a rules-based order and ensuring respect for international law.
The MEA gave the following statement: “They agreed that a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large. The officials also exchanged views on addressing common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region as well as on enhancing connectivity.
The discussions focused on cooperation based on their converging vision and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in an increasingly inter- connected region that they share with each other and with other partners.”
The quadrilateral is also aimed at curbing North Korea’s unlawful and belligerent missile tests that threaten world peace. Terrorism and tackling proliferation threats were also discussed.
The US and Japanese officials made similar statements. The Japanese foreign ministry said: “From this perspective, the participants discussed the direction for cooperation, including with countries in the region, in upholding the rules-based order and respect for international law in the Indo-Pacific.”
This maritime alliance is a major part of India’s ‘Act East Policy’ which has taken a new proactive dimension under Prime Minister Modi. Prime Minister is actively engaging South-Asian nations – many of whom themselves have serious security concerns from China’s ballooning military might – to present a credible counter to China.
The ASEAN meet in the Philippines is crucial for India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also.