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Quadrilateral Security Dialogue: Pacific Island nations and US struggle against China

Written by: (Contributed) on 11 November 2020


Information about a recent high-level diplomatic meeting of Pacific Island security leaders has revealed the central importance of the so-called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) for US-led regional foreign policy behind the official scenes.

Fears exist about the diplomatic role of China in the Pacific; informed observers have already concluded traditional US hegemonic positions are in relative decline as China has increased its regional influence.

Major Cold War dramas, therefore, appear to have started over relatively small Pacific Islands nations which, nevertheless, possess huge strategic significance for US-led military and security provision.
A recent publication about regional affairs drew attention to a series of meetings of security leaders connected to the Second Joint Heads of Pacific Security which included 24 nations and territories including Australia, together with five regional bodies. (1) The US and Japan were also involved in various meetings with a range of security-related matters.
Such meetings, taking place with increasing regularity, might have provided nothing more than a casual read for many observers of regional affairs.
The listed agendas of the meetings, however, were remarkably similar to those which dominated agendas at the recent meeting of the QSD in Tokyo: maritime security, security, defence, infrastructure, investment, technology, cyber affairs, supply-chains and public health. (2)
The developments have to be viewed within the context of  the US being seen to have lost some of its traditional hegemonic position in the Asia-Pacific region in recent times: the rise of China has seen the US having to compete with another regional power. China has also extended its regional diplomatic representation to include 'soft power influence' which has included large-scale investment projects in the smaller countries of the Pacific Rim, including Micronesia and the South Pacific.
A US commission, formed by Congress in 2018 with responsibility for analysing regional developments, concluded later that year 'the US was no longer clearly superior to threats it faced 'and would struggle to win wars against China and Russia'. (3) Other studies, conducted with Australia, likewise, concluded China had successfully 'undermined US military superiority in the Western Pacific'. (4)   
As part of a regional military plan to attempt to reassert traditional hegemonic positions the US subsequently included India into their regional triangular defence and security provision alongside Australia and Japan to create the QSD. When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated at their recent summit in Tokyo that it 'expanded co-operation … and … the Trump administration's aim … was to … transform the QSD into a fully-fledged alliance of countries', it was hardly surprising that the high-level diplomatic initiatives put the body on a collision course with China. It was the intended purpose for US-led military planners.
The official position adopted by China, therefore, that the QSD is a regional NATO is perhaps an appropriate observation, taken the indiscriminate war-mongering of the four main partners and their shift of emphasis by the US away from northern Europe to the Asia-Pacific region.
The developments have also included a recent US-led military exercise Noble Fury, a noted 'new-style exercise', which included the stated intention of establishing 'expeditionary advanced base operations' where small units capture Pacific landmasses in time of conflict to enable the creation of temporary vantage points for 'shoot-and-scoot' tactics. (5)
The recent security leaders meeting of Pacific Islanders has to be seen within the context of spokes around the wheels of the two traditional regional countries, Australia and Japan and hubs for 'US interests', which seek to extend their influence ever wider into the region and nearby countries; diplomatic initiatives, in recent times, have emphasis upon the military.
Amid the official media releases from the meetings, including references to 'common goals such as regional security maintenance', and, 'improved intelligence-sharing between our Pacific nation families', lay two important factors:
reference to the role of the Australian Federal Police to 'remain closely engaged with Pacific policing and security partners', provided evidence that internal and domestic security were also considerations (6):
India, itself, is also part of US-led surveillance operations with the launching of a C49 Satellite from Chennai recently. Its recently established Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have developed satellite systems 'to collect data' from areas including the South China Seas, South Pacific, northern Australia, together with elsewhere over Central and Latin America and the Middle East, specifically for US-led global intelligence provision. (7)
These developments have led to a rising wave of diplomatic tensions and hostilities between US-led military and security provision and China, drawing Australia ever closer to real-war scenarios: We need and independent foreign policy!
1.     Pacific nation security leaders meet, The Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, 9 November 2020.
2.     Quad's rationale bringing balance to coercive China, The Weekend Australian, 10-11 October 2020.
3.     Study: U.S. no longer dominant power in the Pacific, Paul D. Shinkman, Information Clearing House, 22 August 2019.
4.     Great Expectations: Can we depend on the neighbours? The Weekend Australian, 17-18 October 2020.
5.     US marines move fast to 'shoot and scoot', Australian, 22 October 2020.
6.     Pacific nation security leaders meet, op.cit., 9 November 2020.
7.     Kleos Space, APDR, 9 November 2020.     


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