Pacific News Minute: An Informal Alliance Reborn?

Mar 1, 2018

Credit Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jarod Hodge / U.S. Navy

On Sunday, the Chinese Communist Party announced that presidents will no longer be limited to two terms, clearing the way for Xi Jinping to remain in office for the foreseeable future. The news comes as the U.S. and its Indo-Pacific allies reconsider an old idea – an informal alliance called the "Quad."  We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

After the tsunami of 2004, the navies of the United States, India, Japan and Australia worked well together on humanitarian relief. Afterwards, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan proposed further collaboration. In 2007 defense ministers from the four countries met for talks, and all sent ships to participate in a naval exercise off the coast of India. The Quad was born.

Beijing was extremely unhappy with what it characterized as an Indo-Pacific version of NATO.

In fact, as all four countries pursued economic engagement with China, the Quad fell by the wayside. But all four have had their problems with Beijing of late and, last fall, defense ministers met to revive the Quad. 

This time around, China seems less concerned. Aside from that one meeting, there’s been no investment of time or money – and there’s an important question of trust. For the most part, the U.S., Japan and Australia all use American made equipment and freely share information. The word you’ll hear is interoperability.

A Sukhoi T-50 at a 2011 air show.
Credit Dmitry Zherdin / Wikipedia

Most of India’s military equipment is Russian made, and, according to Reuters, Indian commanders refuse to share data or even open military communications systems. For example, India sent it’s Russian made Sukhoi fighters to a drill, but with their radars and jammers turned off.

Even so, there was a military standoff on India’s border with China last year, and if tensions mount in the Indo-Pacific, we may hear more about the 'Quad.'