Illustration: Xia Qing / GT
Despite the first Quad Summit held on March 12 which made headlines around the world, it is evident that its members are loosely tied to temporary goals and interests. The fact can hardly be changed even if the Indian media are busy re-launching the Quad-plus-France military exercise, which will take place in the Bay of Bengal from April 4 to 7, with the aim of showing the group’s military cooperation. . US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will visit India from Friday to Sunday. In this context, Indian media are creating a sensation on the importance of the Quad-plus-France military exercise to show that India plays a dominant role in such military cooperation.
Joint military exercises between the United States, Japan, India and Australia are generally dominated by the United States because they have the strongest military power. Even in the Indian Ocean, the United States has a much stronger military presence than India.
But New Delhi has always believed that the Indian Ocean should be dominated by India. He therefore wishes to make a preventive declaration to show that India’s role in the Quad is important.
After the United States came up with its Indo-Pacific strategy, India dreamed of leveraging American influence to achieve some of India’s strategic goals. Although Washington and New Delhi have a strong need for cooperation, the two sides are by no means true friends. They use each other for their own purposes.
The upcoming naval exercise between Quad members and France looks more like a publicity stunt.
For now, Washington hopes to attract more NATO members to its Indo-Pacific military framework and invite them to cooperate with future US military operations in the region. However, many European countries are not enthusiastic about this.
With the United States playing a dominant role within NATO, France must show some gestures of cooperation. But France will not carry out hostile actions that directly target other major military powers in the Western Pacific. It is impossible for France to maintain a long-term military presence in this region. As such, the participation of France in the Quad-plus-France exercises is only to face the United States.
Although some Indian media claim that some Western countries are keen to cooperate with Quad to combat a “belligerent” China, these countries may pay more attention to the Indian defense market, as India cannot produce many. types of major combat equipment and weapons alone and must import them from other countries. Therefore, the reports and rhetoric of some Indian media were too arrogant and overconfident.
Many Indian media have described China as a “threat”. This will make it impossible for defense cooperation between European countries and India to go further.
Currently, China’s military presence in the Indian Ocean is for peaceful purposes only, including combating piracy and providing escorts to ships. These actions do not target India and do not pose a maritime threat to any other country in the region. On the contrary, India has always been aggressive in the Indian Ocean.
India’s ambitions as a major power are growing. He even hopes to build a hegemonic system in the Indian Ocean. However, the United States wishes to maintain its hegemony in the Indian Ocean. As a result, although there is some military cooperation between the two countries targeting China, the contradictions between New Delhi and Washington in the Indian Ocean region will ultimately be irreconcilable. When India’s military might increases, New Delhi will sooner or later challenge the United States in the region.
This actually reflects that Quad’s security-based framework isn’t as strong as it looks. There is still a big gap between the American and Indian military presence in the Indian Ocean. But if India deploys more aircraft carriers, more advanced nuclear submarines and fighter jets there in the future, it will seriously wonder which country has the final say in the waters. However, the United States will never allow any other country to dominate the Indian Ocean strategic models. Until then, Washington and New Delhi will inevitably turn against each other. Basically, Quad is a loose group that was created for the temporary interests of its members.
Quad’s military movements are obviously targeting China. What China needs to do now is improve its own military capabilities and strengthen its global maritime combat capabilities while proving to the world that a stronger Chinese navy will safeguard global peace and stability.
The author is a Beijing-based military analyst. [email protected]