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The “Quadrilateral Initiative”: A New Security Structure in Asia?


  • Howard Loewen


The “Malabar CY 07-02” naval exercises held in the Bay of Bengal in the first week of September 2007 were the largest of their kind and may change the security structure of Asia. Thirty ships and 300 aircrafts were sent by four states – namely, Australia, Japan, India, and the USA. These exercises may be a first decisive step towards a new military initiative in Asia which engages powerful external actors such as the United States and Australia. In this emerging security structure, the US already holds a dominant position because it has established bilateral security ties with the other members of the Malabar exercises. China’s highly sensitive reaction to this initiative at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the latest ASEAN summit and its engagement with other Central Asian states in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) mark the opposite side of a potential new regional power game. Are we witnessing the rise of a new security alliance in Asia? And if so, will the next strategic crevasse be one between Japan, the US, Australia, and India on the one side and China, Russia, and their allies on the other side? What are the interests of the major players involved? What are the possible effects of the Quadrilateral Initiative on the regional security situation? It is argued here that at the moment we are not witnessing a factual bloc-building process between China and Russia on the one side and India, Japan, the USA, and Australia on the other. The exercises can be conceived of as a symbol of strength rather than a coherent approach to containing China. Yet, it is the demonstration of power that may in the long run manifest itself as a new security fault line between regional and external powerful actors. Economic interdependence as a dominant feature of this region would be joined by a new security structure that may change the region and could have worldwide repercussions.

Suggested Citation

  • Howard Loewen, 2008. "The “Quadrilateral Initiative”: A New Security Structure in Asia?," Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 27(1), pages 101-110.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:soaktu:v:27:y:2008:i:1:p:101-110

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