The QUAD Group is an informal strategic dialogue with four members, namely, India, Japan, Australia, and the US. The shared objective is to ensure and sustain an open, free, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. The QUAD Group is maintained by semi-regular summits, meetings, information exchanges, and military drills of all the members. It is seen as a coalition of maritime democracies. The idea for the QUAD Group is attributed to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who mooted it in 2007. However, its origins can be traced back to the 2004 Tsunami when India conducted relief and rescue operations for itself and neighboring countries and was joined by Japan, the US, and Australia. The move was paralleled by the joint military exercise ‘Malabar’ which was held at an unprecedented scale involving India, Japan, Australia, Singapore, and the US.
China issued formal diplomatic protests to the members of the QUAD. Then, Australia backed out from the QUAD presumably due to pressure from the Chinese. Again in 2012, Abe brought forth the idea of Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond” comprising Japan, India, the US, and Australia to protect the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean to the Western Pacific. It was in 2017, however, that the first official talks under the QUAD took place, in Manila, the Philippines.
The idea behind the QUAD Group is to keep the strategic and significant sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence (read Chinese influence). It is seen as a strategic grouping to preempt and reduce Chinese influences. The core objectives of the QUAD are to secure a rules-based global order, a liberal trading system, and freedom of navigation. It seeks to contain a ‘rising China’ and work against its predatory trade and economic policies. Another purpose of the QUAD is to offer alternative debt financing for nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
In 2020, the trilateral India-US-Japan Malabar naval exercises expanded to include Australia, marking the first official grouping of the Quad since its resurgence in 2017 and the first joint military exercises among the four countries in over a decade. In March 2021, the Quad leaders met virtually and later released a joint statement titled ‘The Spirit of the Quad,’ which outlined the group’s approach and objectives.