Will China be able to maintain its dominance in the Asia-Pacific region by confronting the Quad? -Akij Mahmud
That being said, there is no such thing as a permanent enemy or a permanent ally in international politics. In order to reconcile the interests and deal with the crisis of the near future, a country sometimes plays the role of best friend of the time with another country, and sometimes it becomes an ‘at daggers drawn’ relationship.
After World War II, two separate polarizations, mainly between the US and Soviet super powers, became visible in international politics. The Cold War ended in 1991 with the break-up of the Soviet Union. Since then, the United States has reached the point of control in global politics.
Times have changed, and in the last three decades, a number of regional powers have emerged in global politics. America’s influence in global politics has diminished and the influence of regional powers in certain territories has increased. Changes have also taken place in US politics. From the role of guardian of democracy, many steps of US foreign policy have brought democracy to the forefront in the world today. China’s geopolitical rise in the Asian region has challenged the United States as usual in world politics.
The politics of international polarization has once again come to the forefront of the world since the second decade of the twenty-first century. From the beginning of the twenty-first century, the United States has been active in forming a military alliance with China’s rival countries to counter China’s growing aggression in world politics. Following this, a plan was formed to form a Japanese-led alliance in the Asia-Pacific region to counter China’s growing aggression, with the participation of military powers such as the United States, India and Australia.
Although the main reason for the formation of the quad in 2008 was to keep the Asia-Pacific region free and open, it was formed primarily to fight Chinese aggression in the region. In response to the formation of the alliance, China said that it is not desirable to form an alliance targeting any one country. But four Quad countries have denied the allegations since the beginning.
When the four countries met again in 2012 to implement the Quad, the alliance’s activities came to the forefront of the world again. Since 2017, there have been high-level meetings between the four countries. The last time the top leaders of the four countries sat in a virtual meeting was in March 2021. At the end of the meeting, for the first time, the countries warned of China’s aggression. The four countries reached an agreement to ensure free and unfettered movement in the Asia-Pacific region. Experts point to India’s key role in the sudden increase in Quad activities.
Countries that have been threatening China since 2007 for its own territory have been waiting for the Quad to play a stronger role against China. But with China’s relations with India still relatively good, the rest of the alliance has not been able to take a firm stand against China. India is flexible towards China, mainly because of its long border with China and its huge trade partnership. But in 2014, India-China relations began to cool due to the launch of Chinese submarines in Sri Lankan waters. Then in 2016, India-China relations came to a standstill due to border tensions.
In a speech to the Australian Parliament in 2014, the Chinese president said, “We will be together in both good and bad times.” This word could not pass the test of time. Relations between Australia and China continued to deteriorate in 2020 when Australia offered China an accurate and unbiased study of the origin of the corona virus. The Chinese Communist Party then publicly threatened to boycott trade with Australia. Since then, Australia has always looked to China as an adversary to maintain its sovereignty.
China’s aggressive attitude towards its own interests in South Asia and its sovereignty has made India completely distrustful of China. China has broken its promise by engaging in a trade war with Australia. Meanwhile, Sino-Japanese relations have historically been hostile. In such a situation, the United States has found a perfect platform to challenge the Chinese aggression.
After the virtual meeting of the Quad in March 2021, the US President welcomed any country to their alliance if they maintained ideological and objective similarities with them. This proves that the Biden administration has a tougher and far-reaching plan centered on China than Trump. At the same time, the United States is once again reaching out to its old allies in Southeast Asia. But the countries have not yet responded to join hands with the United States. None of the US allies in the region are directly blaming China as well as the United States for escalating tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.
International political analysts believe that the US is now certain that it is going to corner China in the Asia-Pacific region. The fact that the future of China, which is leading the free trade in the region, is not going well is now clear from the American activities.
The negative attitude of the US administration towards China is not unknown at all to the Chinese communist government. Trade tensions between the two top economies began in 2017 during the Trump administration, which had a huge impact on the global economy. Economists say the US move to corner China will not work. Economists claim that China’s huge economy is not like any other country, but that China’s economic sectors are more diverse. Experts are skeptical about whether any country will reap the fruits of the trade war.
In the meantime, the four superpowers in the quad have taken part in joint military exercises several times. The quad countries are sending a message to China through military exercises that the quad is also preparing to deal with China militarily if necessary. Analysts believe that Quad’s move around China will be a major obstacle to China’s dream of world victory.
South Asia, Southeast Asia is said to be a region with potential for economic leadership in the world to come. The desire for dominance and influence in this region, which is important in international trade, has inspired the United States to play an active role in the quad. Experts believe that this huge market for trade in South and Southeast Asia will also determine which country will lead the world economy in the future.
The question now is whether it will be possible to resist Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region, and to what extent will it be possible to protect the interests of these four allied countries through the Quad? Undoubtedly, America will benefit the most from the Quad. It will be one of the most successful diplomatic activities in US politics if it is able to counter China’s influence in South Asia and Southeast Asia. However, experts believe that Quad’s activities could destabilize the Asia-Pacific region and lead the region to war.
According to experts, as the Quad’s activities increase, so will the political tensions between India and China. And this is why China is trying to secure their strong position in Pakistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Iran, on the other hand, is strengthening ties with Turkey. Similarly, China continues to seek confidence and alliances between ASEAN and SAARC countries by increasing investment.
Whatever the situation in the future, it will be more difficult for regional powers to balance or maintain a neutral role in regional politics. Whatever the outcome of the Quad, the United States is likely to benefit. It remains to be seen what steps China will take to address the quad. The way is open for China to overcome this neural war with ASEAN. But the question remains how effective the divided ASEAN will be for China.
The author of this article is regularly contributing to international relations, politics and regional security issues.