Rise of the Quad in the Indo-Pacific?

cc Flickr Diplomatic Security Service, modified, public domain, State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

As Donald Trump recovered from coronavirus inside the White House, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Asia to meet America’s friends, hoping to generate some positive headlines.

He received a warm welcome from the foreign ministers of Japan, Australia, and India in Tokyo. The governments of each of those nations remain loyal to the United States, despite misgivings about the manner in which its president conducts international affairs.

The principal goal of Pompeo’s trip was to bolster the support of the foreign ministers for the Quad, an informal defense alliance which began in 2007 and has turned into an important platform for US policy in the Indo-Pacific. The Quad is a strategic response to China’s growing strength in the region.

“If one bends the knee each time the Chinese Communist Party takes action around the world, one will find themselves having to bend the knee with great frequency,” Pompeo told the Nikkei newspaper.

“We’re going to work with our friends as part of the Quad, we’re going to deliver out a comprehensive set of relationships,” he said.

The Quad is not a formal alliance, like NATO, yet Secretary Pompeo told the Nikkei he wants it to become more formalized, encompassing “trade agreements, diplomatic relationships and all the elements that form a security framework.”

Despite the enthusiastic rhetoric, it is not clear how much resources the United States can commit to the project, with an election looming and a huge health crisis at home.

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