Amid a surge in China’s illegal activities in the Indo-Pacific region, the upcoming quad meeting of the foreign ministers of India, Japan, Australia and the United States will focus on the next steps to be taken to thwart Beijing’s moves.

The meeting takes place at a time when China is showing its willingness to use military and economic heft to dominate the Indo-Pacific region and Eurasian areas.

In recent months, the stance on China has hardened, especially due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which originated in Wuhan. On July 23, US secretary of state Michael Pompeo delivered a speech where he proposed the formal termination of 40 years of US policy of engagement with Beijing, which had been premised on the hope that China would change from within, as it integrated with the global economy.

“We, the freedom-loving nations of the world, must induce China to change, just as President (Richard) Nixon wanted. We must induce China to change in more creative and assertive ways because Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity. We must start by changing how our people and our partners perceive the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo observed.

On September 16, US Congressman Tom Tiffany introduced a bill, urging Washington to put an end to the “one China” policy, resume formal relations with Taiwan, and begin negotiations on US-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement. In a press release, the Congressman criticised former US President Jimmy Carter for suddenly severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, “without legislative approval”.

India-China relations hit a new low with the military stand-off in the Galwan Valley after some PLA soldiers attacked Indian Army personnel resulting in the death of 20 Indian soldiers. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but has not officially divulged the figures.

In the recent weeks following Shinzo Abe’s resignation from the post of Prime Ministership, Japan has also hardened its stance on China.
Abe’s brother, Nobuo Kishi, who is the Defence Minister in Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet, told reporters after his appointment that China’s “rapid military build-up is a serious concern”.

His appointment has upset China as Kishi is known for his deep and extensive links with Taiwan. In the past, Kishi has said that Japan should consider arming itself with nuclear weapons if needed due to the changing international security landscape.