Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 16:44 | SYDNEY
Friday 20 Jul 2018 | 16:44 | SYDNEY

Who really killed the Quad?


Raoul Heinrichs

18 March 2008 12:46

Sam Roggeveen said yesterday that: 

The Rudd Government did not 'kill' the quadrilateral dialogue with the US, Japan and India at the behest of China. As my colleague Rory Medcalf has noted, nobody was proposing a new round of that dialogue anyway.

I read the situation a little differently.

Certainly, throughout 2007, as Shinzo Abe and John Howard fell on their respective political swords, and as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set about improving New Delhi’s diplomatic relations with China, the region did go cold on the prospective quadrilateral dialogue. This made life easier for Canberra. Insofar as Stephen Smith’s decision to abandon ‘the Quad’ simply reflected the broader regional trend, there was nothing especially surprising or deferential about it.

But there is also something quite revealing about this dynamic. That the Rudd Government did not have to explicitly defer to China’s concerns, because Tokyo and New Dehli had already backed away from the quadrilateral arrangement, is itself a clear indication of China’s rising influence and perhaps Washington’s gradual relative decline in Asia. Moreover, China’s willingness to use its considerable diplomatic weight to prevent the emergence of a regional grouping perceived to be inimical to its interests suggests a new level of confidence in China’s foreign and strategic policy, and an increased awareness among its policy makers of their capacity to independently shape China’s strategic environment.