Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Quadrilateral Coalition on the Indo-Pacific

Quadrilateral Coalition on the Indo-Pacific

The meeting was held as Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Manila on Sunday on a three-day visit to the Philippines for the 15th India-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meet and the 12th East Asia Summit on Tuesday.

The US had said it was looking at a "working-level" quadrilateral meeting in the near term with India, Japan and Australia.

Amid rising assertiveness of China in the South China Sea, India has come together with US, Australia, and Japan to cooperate and coordinate in the Indo-Pacific region.

Beijing has reacted warily to the "Indo-Pacific" approach, viewing it as aimed at supporting a more prominent role for India in an interconnected region and, some Chinese analysts say, also aimed at diluting China's influence.

"They agreed that a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large", the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement on the quadrilateral.

A week later, the four countries seem to be closer to reviving the Quad, which was first mooted in 2007.

"From China's consistent foreign policy, we welcome development of friendly cooperation between relevant countries, and we hope this will not be directed at a third party", Geng said when he was asked to comment on the meeting of the leaders of the Quad countries and the U.S. administration's use of the much-talked about term "Indo-Pacific".

Geng said China hoped "policies made and actions taken by relevant parties can correspond with the trend of the times, featuring peace, cooperation, friendship and development and be conducive to upholding regional peace, prosperity and stability".

On October 18, US Secretary of State Rex W Tillerson said talks were on between the countries to create alternative financing mechanisms.

The initiative is also significant as India had boycotted the OBOR summit in Beijing on the grounds that connectivity projects can not be unilateral initiatives, must respect sovereignty and have transparent funding. Modi and Trump met briefly during a "gala dinner" hosted by Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and are expected to hold a structured bilateral meeting Monday.

India's proposal to host an worldwide conference on countering radicalisation may also be discussed during the deliberations at Manila as New Delhi is now looking at finalising the dates for the conclave. Although Trump was addressing a meeting alongside the APEC summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in the Vietnamese city of Danang on Friday, he repeatedly referred to the Indo-Pacific region and mentioned the importance of India in his speech. The RCEP, comprising 10-member ASEAN bloc and six other countries - India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand - is engaged in negotiations for a free trade pact.

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