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Source:- Financialexpress

“Developments over the last few months in the Indo-Pacific as a result of the economic and security fallout of the pandemic and China’s criminal withholding of information about it leading to its spread across geographies were further aggravated by China’s subsequent effort to exploit the vulnerabilities thus created to its advantage.
In a rare departure from the existing precautionary protocols of virtual Summits due to the COVID pandemic, the physical meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the four nations that comprise the QUAD(Australia, India, Japan and the United States of America) over the next two days in Tokyo assumes significance for many reasons. Developments over the last few months in the Indo-Pacific as a result of the economic and security fallout of the pandemic and China’s criminal withholding of information about it leading to its spread across geographies were further aggravated by China’s subsequent effort to exploit the vulnerabilities thus created to its advantage. Its military belligerence across the land border with India in the high Himalayas, ratcheting up the tension with the US in the South China Sea, intimidation of Taiwan and its rabid denouncing of Australia’s and Japan’s attempts to free themselves of Chinese business shackles besides its aggressive actions against some of the ASEAN members have disturbed the fragile security environment in the entire region. This has resulted in a wave of anti-China sentiment across the world and specifically in this region, the vehemence of which has probably even taken China and its megalomanic leader Xi Jinping by surprise.
China, as is its wont, had sought to take advantage of a global vulnerability caused by countries grappling to contain the spread of the pandemic but now finds itself on the back foot and vulnerable. This is perhaps the right opportunity for the Quad countries to wrest back the initiative collectively (in addition to their individual efforts) through an inclusive developmental agenda centred on security and economic capacity building and capability enhancement which can effectively counter the Chinese predatory model of economic support. Countries like France, Germany and the UK have also developed their Indo-Pacific strategy towards supporting the existing rules-based international order and a Free and Open Indo-Pacific for the safe passage of global commerce, a critical imperative in this era of globalisation and trade dependencies.”