If the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) made up of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States (US) has to function properly, it should morph into a treaty-based economic alliance, wherein all commit to defending each other economically if China retaliates against any member, according to an opinion piece in The Hill.
Jainli Yang, former political prisoner in China, and Aaron Rhodes, president of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe, write in The Hill that forming this kind of alliance would be an "appropriate response to the Chinese Communist Party's own decades-long strategy of creating allies by coercion, rather than consent, and punishing trade partners that stand up on behalf of fundamental moral principles".
China's rulers are intent on ensuring that the Quad is not expanded to include countries in Central Asia, Southeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula, say the writers.
Jainli and Rhodes reminded that Beijing in March 2020 issued a statement of protest after a "Quad Plus" meeting was held to discuss the impact of COVID19. In addition to the four-member states, that meeting included representatives from South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand.
The writers also explained how China is trying to create a rift between Washington and New Delhi, as India faces a devastating COVID-19 wave.
Jainli and Rhodes say that such kind of actions depict China's growing deep unease about India's growing friendship with America, and about the Quad, an informal alliance between the U.S., Japan, Australia and India that some believe could become a Southeast Asian military alliance.
"Chinese state media gleefully mocked India's tragedy while seeking to sow discord between the two largest democracies. The latest U.S. effort displays how this so-called political alliance failed to address India's major concerns,' says a piece published by the state-controlled Global Times," they wrote.
"An editorial in the same publication says the U.S. "thinks it should realize immunity [first] and then distribute the inferior vaccines to other countries while the latter must be grateful for such U.S. 'goodness' and jointly help safeguard the 'American First' order," referencing what China apparently claims to be President Biden's continuation of former President Trump's governing political philosophy," they added.
The establishment of the Quad was intended to create an "Arc of Democracy" in Asia, and many observers view it as a move by Asian powers, in collaboration with the United States, to curb China's coercive, growing influence, the writers noted.
A major difficulty facing the Quad members is that trade with China is important for all of them, even though all share Washington's concerns about China's military and territorial aspirations, economic mercantilism, abysmal human rights record, and subversion of universal human rights norms in international forums, assert the writers.
They point out how China tried to intimidate Australia on the economic front as the rift between the two countries grew.
"When Australia, for example, banned Huawei and called for a probe into the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak, China responded by imposing economic sanctions that resulted in severe economic losses to Australia," they say, adding that in March, Australia scrapped two agreements between the Victoria state government and Chinese companies under the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi's pet expansionist project. The CCP chastised Australia for "not sincerely trying" to ameliorate China-Australia relations.
Last week, China suspended economic dialogue with Australia. "The incident shows that if the Quad is to function properly, members must consider forming an economic NATO - a treaty-based economic alliance, wherein all commit to defending each other economically if China retaliates against any member," the writers say.