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What are the mechanisms of the four countries of the United States, Japan, India and Australia?

  After the first online meeting of leaders of the “Quadruple Security Dialogue” held in March 2021 in the four countries of the United States, Japan, India and Australia, recent actions have been frequent. On the one hand, they have expanded cooperation topics and promoted the dialogue mechanism to be further implemented. Interaction, showing the trend of building a “quadrant +” structure, its development trend and impact deserve high attention.
The four-nation mechanism winds up

  Judging from recent developments, the “four-party security dialogue” has shown the following main trends:
  First, the normalization of summit summits and the establishment of working groups have been promoted, and the degree of institutionalization has been continuously improved. Since the reopening of the “Four-Party Security Dialogue” in 2017, the United States, Japan, India and Australia, initially only exchanged at the departmental level, and then upgraded to the foreign minister level in 2019. After the Biden administration came to power, the United States intends to strengthen the mechanism’s pillar role in advancing the “Indo-Pacific Strategy” and initiated the holding of the first online summit. After the meeting, not only did they issue a joint statement, the leaders of the four countries also jointly published the “Washington Post”. Published articles demonstrating the “firm commitment” to the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy and a positive attitude towards the sustainable development of the “Quadruple Security Dialogue”. The four countries may hold a summit meeting again this year. If the leaders’ meeting is normalized, the communication channels will be further strengthened in addition to the working-level consultations and the foreign ministers’ meeting, and the degree of institutionalization of the dialogue will be significantly improved. In addition, the four countries announced the establishment of three working groups: vaccine expert working group, climate working group, critical and emerging technology working group, to show that the four countries can provide tangible public products, instead of just talking about “China challenges.”
  Second, the topics are gradually expanding, from maritime security to infrastructure, vaccine cooperation, cyber security, climate change, etc. The “Quadruple Security Dialogue” initially focused on maritime security, but the summit discussed the impact of the new crown epidemic, climate change, cyber security, key technologies, counter-terrorism, high-quality infrastructure investment, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief. The leaders of the four countries agreed to launch a vaccine cooperation plan for the Indo-Pacific region. The four countries will gather forces to produce at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine by 2022 through multi-sectoral cooperation and step-by-step actions, and to strengthen vaccine supply and “last mile”. “The cooperation in vaccine distribution focuses on developing countries in Southeast Asia and South Pacific, and is intended to counter China’s “vaccine diplomacy.” The four countries have also set up relevant working groups to prepare for specific cooperation in areas such as climate change and key technologies.

“Four-Party Security Dialogue” between the United States, Japan, India and Australia

  The expansion of the topics will further expand the influence of the “four-party security dialogue” and enhance the sustainability of the mechanism. At the same time, expanding cooperation to less sensitive “soft” topics, such as climate change, humanitarian relief, etc., will also eliminate the doubts of some member states, increase the motivation for cooperation, and strengthen the internal cohesion of the mechanism. However, the four countries emphasized cooperation in key technologies, network security, and high-quality infrastructure. The fundamental purpose is to integrate the power of allies and partners, and join forces to deal with China in important areas of competition.
  Third, the interactions between member states and allies and partners are frequent, showing a trend of rapid network expansion. While the four countries of the United States, Japan, India and Australia are strengthening four-sided cooperation, diplomatic and military interactions among their member states and between member states and partners have become increasingly frequent.
  The small multilateral interactions of bilateral, trilateral, even four and five sides can not only coordinate each other’s actions, but also form an important support and supplement to the “four-party security dialogue” mechanism, and also pave the way for further expansion of the dialogue in the future. The four-nation mechanism is considering the possibility of expanding its staff. The main candidates include the United Kingdom, France, Germany, New Zealand, South Korea, Vietnam and other countries.
Will not develop into a formal alliance for the time being

  In view of the importance of the “Four-Party Security Dialogue” in the Indo-Pacific strategy of the United States, Japan and other countries as well as their China strategy, paying attention to and judging the follow-up development of the dialogue is of vital importance to China’s strategy and national security interests.
  In the short term, the “four-party security dialogue” will not develop into a formal regional alliance, but it is entirely possible for the four countries to build a flexible “like-minded national front” with this as the core. Although the cooperation between the United States, Japan, India and Australia is strengthening, the vital interests and priorities of each country are different. For example, they have common concerns in dealing with the rise of China and maintaining a “rule-based regional order”, but there is still a lack of consensus on how to handle relations with China. . In addition, India mainly focuses on the Indian Ocean region, while Australia and Japan pay more attention to the South China Sea. To this end, the four countries emphasized that the “Quadruple Security Dialogue” is a “loose group” between “like-minded” countries. There is no secretariat and other institutions, and it mainly communicates and coordinates and conducts joint operations through regular meetings, information exchanges, and military exercises. .
  This loose form provides greater flexibility for all parties. The four countries may take the “four-sided security dialogue” as the core, and at any time introduce different partners according to their ability and willingness to form multiple “four-party +” small circles to build more A large-scale, more pragmatic and effective “front to China.”
  The four countries may also cooperate separately or jointly with countries outside the region to form a new cooperation mechanism, dock with the “four-party security dialogue,” and form a complex network-like cooperation model. For example, the trilateral cooperation between India, Australia, and France is gradually taking shape. Two foreign ministerial talks have been held in September 2020 and February 2021, respectively. On April 14, the foreign ministers of the three countries met again during the “Resina Dialogue” in India, expressing plans to expand their presence in the Indo-Pacific region and follow the example of the “Quadruple Security Dialogue” to strengthen cooperation in areas such as maritime security. Some analysts believe that France is seeking to establish a closer relationship with the “Four-Party Security Dialogue” through the Trilateral Organization of France, India and Australia.
  As NATO and the European Union increase their involvement in Indo-Pacific affairs, their cooperation with the “quartet security dialogue” and member states will also be strengthened. Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries have all put forward their respective Indo-Pacific concepts or guidelines, and regard the Indo-Pacific as an important strategic interest area. NATO also issued the “NATO 2030” document, considering the formal inclusion of “response to China’s challenges” into the “strategic concept.” At the annual meeting of the Munich Security Conference in February 2021, NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg said that NATO should deepen cooperation with partner countries such as Australia and Japan. On April 19, the European Union’s 27 foreign ministers issued a joint statement stating that they would deepen relations with India, Japan, Australia and other countries, seek cooperation with “like-minded partners”, and strengthen their influence in the Indo-Pacific region. On the same day, the Council of the European Union approved the conclusion on the EU’s “cooperation strategy” in the Indo-Pacific region, indicating that the EU intends to strengthen its strategic presence and actions in this region.
  However, although the “Four-Party Security Dialogue” attempts to build a network aimed at China through extensive alliances, the strategic interests of the four countries and their allies are different, and the policies are not monolithic. There are many unknowns about the extent to which they can cooperate. Japan, India, Australia, and some European countries have close economic relations with China. They also need China’s cooperation on global issues such as climate change, and they are unwilling to “decouple” from China in an all-round way.
Impact on regional security architecture

  The “four-party security dialogue” cannot get rid of the “cold war mentality”, and the containment and containment of China will be further strengthened. The “dialogue” was restarted under the background of the “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy launched by all parties. The Indo-Pacific strategy, especially the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy, is clearly aimed at China. “Security Dialogue” will be the main tool for the United States to implement its strategy of containment and containment against China. Although the joint statement of the first summit meeting of the four countries did not name “China”, it emphasized the principles of “freedom”, “openness”, “democratic values” and “non-coercion”, as well as the vaccine diplomacy, maritime safety, key technology, and supply of concern. Issues such as chain security and infrastructure are alluded to and directed at China. The four countries not only want to counter China in the field of maritime security, but also expand this countermeasure to key areas such as key technologies, in order to integrate forces to fully counter China’s growing strength and influence. Through the establishment of expert working groups, the four countries have begun to take practical steps in several key areas to advance measures against China.
  The four countries of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia are all members of the main regional security mechanisms in the Indo-Pacific region with ASEAN as the core. These mechanisms include the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defense Ministers Expanded Meeting (ADMM), the East Asia Summit (10+8), etc. Wait. In order to dispel the doubts of ASEAN member states in the geopolitical turmoil, the leaders of the four countries reiterated their support for ASEAN’s unity and “centrality”, but in the actual operation of participating in and influencing regional security affairs, preference is given to small areas such as bilateral, trilateral, and quadrilateral. Cooperation is also keen on pulling European countries to intervene in Indo-Pacific affairs. These practices may disrupt the existing regional security cooperation framework, weaken the “centrality” of ASEAN in regional affairs, and threaten the evolution of the ASEAN-centric regional security cooperation mechanism. In addition, the issues covered by the “four-party security dialogue” overlap with the ASEAN-led regional cooperation mechanism, which may reduce the attention and investment of some countries to the ASEAN mechanism. The “Quadruple Security Dialogue” will also set Vietnam and other ASEAN member states as targets for expansion, and to a certain extent will create pressures for differentiation within ASEAN.

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