Supporting India’s decision to formally invite Australia to participate in the annual Exercise Malabar, a group of US Senators said that in the face of China’s rising military and economic assertiveness, strengthening of the Quad has become important.
In a letter to Indian Ambassador to US Taranjit Singh Sandhu, the Senators said, “In the face of China’s rising military and economic assertiveness, strengthening of the Quad has become increasingly important. As the world addresses the fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, China has opportunistically looked to expand its military footprint across the Indo- Pacific…In response to these malign actions, the US has signalled its increased commitment to the region with the newly proposed Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which will complement the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA) to provide a more robust military presence. However, without coordinated efforts among committed and capable partners, solitary actions will not sufficiently address these ever-evolving security challenges.”
The Senators further said that it is necessary that the US and India build upon recent discussions among Quad members, as well as New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam, to coordinate efforts to contain the spread of the virus and develop an effective vaccine.
“The pandemic has also exacerbated concerns about China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and resulting in debt-trap diplomacy. A free and open Indo-Pacific must come with sustainable investment in the region and infrastructure that is physically secure, financially viable and socially responsible. BRI’s opaque and predatory nature fails to meet these standards,” the letter read.
It further read that as the Indo-Pacific region’s need for infrastructure will total as much as $50 trillion by 2040, more collaboration among Quad members on infrastructure investment is needed.
“For instance, the Blue Dot Network (BDN), launched in 2019 by the US, Japan and Australia, is an initiative that will bring together governments, the private sector, and civil society to certify projects that uphold global infrastructure principles. Given that three Quad partners are already involved in BDN, we encourage India’s participation in this promising initiative,” the Senators added.
The letter was signed by US Senators David A Perdue (R-GA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), James Lankford (R-OK), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Mark Warner (D-VA).