Going by the interactions Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on the first day of his visit to the United States, there seems to be a remarkable convergence of approach among the leading democracies, particularly with regard to the front against China. Vice President Kamala Harris expressed concern about Pakistan’s patronage of terrorist groups that target India and the US. Considering that Pakistan is China’s singular protégé in an otherwise hostile world, it becomes clear in which direction the guns are pointed.
Similarly, in Modi’s interaction with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, defence cooperation was one of the primary subjects discussed, particularly in the context of a ‘free’ Indo-Pacific region. A parallel sentiment prevailed in the meeting with Australian PM Scott Morrison. This obviously sets the tone for the meeting of the Quad on Friday. At the same time, bilateral relations have also been emphasised which should go a long way towards India ramping up its economy, particularly in the post-Covid period.
This will have increased China’s paranoia and already it has issued warnings that India and Australia could become ‘cannon-fodder’ in any future conflict between it and the United States. The US is under pressure to re-establish its credibility after the Afghanistan disaster. The focus is now on taking on China without actually triggering a new ‘Cold War’.
This comes at a time when China is facing challenges, both, internal and external. It has lost credibility in all the nations it has exported its ‘development model’ to, comprising largely of debt traps. Its CPEC, despite the tall talk, is under threat from terrorist elements that have displayed quite formidable resilience. At home, its industries are facing various kinds of crisis such as those facing the real estate leviathan Evergrande. China’s overflowing coffers cannot be expected to endlessly buy the nation out of the many battles it has taken on. Its economy cannot afford to alienate all of its markets – however captive it may think they are – without suffering a major hit. It is not just the Quad, or AUKAS that are getting together, other nations, too, from Europe and Africa will align with the cause.
India faces a direct military threat on its northern borders so has a greater stake in the emerging alliance, but the sentiments emerging in New York should give it heart and, hopefully, sustenance for the coming confrontation.