Quad in the Indo-Pacific: Role of Informality in Countering China

The Quad, a highly informal intergovernmental organization in the Indo-Pacific, is a high-profile security grouping composed of Australia, India, Japan, and the US. For some observers, the Quad’s informality and lack of clear security commitments means it is little more than a “talk shop.” For others, it an emergent military alliance. This issue brief shows that the Quad’s overriding purpose is a bit of both via its core mission to meet the long-term security challenges posed by China to each Quad member and the quartet collectively. But rather than turning to an interlocking security alliance, the quartet looks for collective security and the protection of the jealously guarded sovereignty via the Quad’s informality. Indeed, informality is a geopolitical necessity for the Quad as it provides a workable format for four diverse members to coordinate security activities whilst maintaining equivocal positions vis-à-vis China. In the process, Australia, India, Japan, and the US have progressively strengthened bilateral, trilateral, and quadrilateral defense and security ties.

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