30 July, 2021

As Diagonals Reach Out To Four Corners

The proposed four-nation Asia-Pacific quadrilateral has soft edges still. An expanding China can rest easy.

US, Indian and Japanese naval officers at the Malabar exercise in 2017
Photograph by Alamy
As Diagonals Reach Out To Four Corners

Ever since the summer of May 1998, when India conducted five nuclear tests deep inside the Raj­asthan desert at Pokhran to dec­lare itself a nuclear power, it was not Pakistan but, surprisingly, China that was offered as the prime reason and motivation. Since then, the northern neighbour has loomed large in India’s security calculus.

The following decades saw Sino-Indian ties pass through all manner of contrary stages—beginning from a strategic partnership, to brinkmanship on a disputed border that almost led to a war-like situation. The successful resolution of the recent standoff at Doklam and the subsequent close cooperation at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen in China notwithstanding, there is nothing to suggest that either side has decided to lower their guard.

The much-talked about, proposed qua­drilateral arrangement between India, the United States, Japan and Australia, that could pave the way for a closer strategic embrace between New Delhi and Washington as well as stronger ties with some key American allies in Asia, now comes as a new...

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