Whose Centrality? ASEAN and the Quad in the Indo-Pacific
The Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs Vol 3 No 5 (2020): 106-117
13 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2021
Date Written: December 22, 2020
Why has Southeast Asia been particularly lukewarm to the idea of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (or Quad)? If Japan, India, Australia, and the United States collectively work under the Quad to confront China, Southeast Asia’s biggest and most difficult strategic challenge, should not the region embrace and support the Quad? This article seeks to answer these questions by examining the different Southeast Asian views on the Quad. It further examines whether and how the Quad leaders could gradually develop mechanisms to induce a strategic buy-in from Southeast Asia. I argue in particular that the Quad should not reinvent the wheel in terms of regional architecture building and instead seek to become a “strategic filler” for and a “strategic amplifier” to existing ASEAN-led mechanisms and institutions. The key to a future Quad–ASEAN relationship therefore lies in finding a calibrated partnership based on shared principles and interests as well as practical cooperative engagements. The following sections expand on and elaborate these arguments.
Keywords: Quad; Indo-Pacific; ASEAN; Southeast Asia
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