Can the Quad shift from a concept to reality?
President Joe Biden’s first multilateral meeting was to host the Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) in its first meeting of heads of government since it was conceived more than a decade ago. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan described the summit of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. as a “critical part of the architecture of the Indo-Pacific.”
The Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research, with the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, the Center for China-US Cooperation and the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver sponsored a panel of leading foreign policy experts from Japan and the U.S. on the potential for a joint strategy and unified actions to defend the rule of law and democratic values in the Indo-Pacific region.
Professor Nobukatsu Kanehara – Senior advisor to the Asia Group, Tokyo; Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary to Prime Minister Abe; Deputy Secretary-General of the National Security Secretariat.
- The big challenge is China. When China joined the WTO (2001), Japan thought this was a new China and that it wouldn’t go back to Mao’s extremism. Unfortunately, China has stepped into Soviet shoes and is standing against the West.
- Xi is like Mao: He wants to make a great legacy by conquering territories without the consent of the people.
- China will be larger than the U.S. in terms of economic size by 2030. If nations like India, Australia, Japan, the U.S. and others come together, China won’t become a global hegemon, but remain a regional hegemon.
- When we talk about the CPTPP, everyone joins in; when we talk about military affairs and strategies, not many raise their hands.
- Xi is a man of the sword. He’s a fighter and is determined to take back Taiwan. There’s no NATO here with nuclear weapons and tanks. We have to show that we’re in alliance and China isn’t in an advantageous position. We wish to expand Quad and have others join — Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore — to 10 or even 20 countries.
- Japan is now an aging nation and more of its national budget is going to Medicare and pensions. We can’t keep pace with China. Technology and well-crafted strategy are needed. We can’t face China by quantity; we have to do it by quality.
Professor Suisheng “Sam” Zhao – Professor on foreign policy at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies in Denver and director of the Center for China-US Cooperation
- Polling shows clearly that democracy is declining and authoritarian governments are increasing. American democracy, in particular, is in trouble. Biden says “America is back,” but it’s back in a new time.
- The pandemic is a landmark for authoritarianism. It’s a way for China to prove that its authoritarian system was more effective in dealing with crisis and that it controlled the spread and quickly recovered economically. China was the only major country in 2020 that had positive economic growth.
- China has abandoned traditional diplomacy and foreign policy. Its own interest cannot be compromised and it’s willing to go to war over them.
- U.S. allies and the Quad (the liberal democracies), continue to share values, but they’re more interested in the damage to their national interests by China. Even on security issues, each has a different interest than the U.S.
- The U.S. has 60-100 allies. China only has North Korea and Pakistan, and its most powerful ally, Russia. China has trouble with its neighbors.
Professor Floyd Ciruli – Professor of public opinion and foreign policy at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research
- The initial meeting with China set the tone for competition with engagement on some issues, such as climate change, but disagreement on values, such as human rights, rule of law and democracy.
- This is a very different China from 2012; it’s the Xi era. U.S. policy has also shifted beyond the optimistic viewpoint that “China will evolve,” the Obama administration’s initial pivot to Asia, and President Trump’s transactional trade-related strategy.
- The U.S.’s China strategy of competitive engagement needs allies. Japan is in a prime position. The Quad is now activated and support from European allies is important. Votes in the UN will be valuable.
- China and Russia have developed an alliance that is anti-U.S. and has reversed the shift that began with Nixon in 1971 (50-year swing).
- China’s behavior toward Hong Kong and Taiwan shows a stepped-up and aggressive assertion of territorial claims.
- China’s behavior related to COVID-19 has led to an unfavorable shift in U.S. and democratic countries’ opinions away from China and its leaders. China is seen as a threat among Americans.
- A new era in U.S.-China relations will involve considerable competition. Values and ideals will be the main instruments of competition. The U.S. will use diplomacy, development aid and financing, and communication strategies. It will present a contrast between autocracy vs. liberal democracy.
- Domestic policy is critical to foreign policy; we must “get our house in order” (Biden).
The panelists’ concluded that a new era has been launched in U.S.-China relations. It is now the primary focus of America’s foreign policy and is affecting domestic policy – from resolving the pandemic, to addressing infrastructure to strengthening democracy.