Dr. John Lee is a Senior Fellow (non-resident) at Hudson Institute and an adjunct professor at Australian National University and the University of Sydney.
From 2016 to 2018, he was senior national security adviser to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. In this role, he served as the principal adviser on Asia and for economic, strategic, and political affairs in the Indo-Pacific region.
Dr. Lee was also appointed the Foreign Minister’s lead adviser on the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, the first comprehensive foreign affairs blueprint for Australia since 2003 and written to guide Australia’s external engagement for the next ten years and beyond. He received his doctorate in international relations from the University of Oxford.
Dr. Pramod Jaiswal, Strategic Affairs Editor at Khabarhub, spoke to Dr. John Lee on the issues related to Indo-Pacific Affairs.
The QUAD is really about balancing China. We have to be blunt about that. But for China’s behaviors over the last few years, the QUAD would not have been reformed in 2017.
If you look at the membership of QUAD, the QUAD includes the 4 countries in the Indo pacific with the most capable navies. These 4 countries have all decided to counter and balance China.
It is an action-oriented group that isn’t slowed down by a very large membership and there are no already set up bureaucratic processes.
Also, outside the QUAD is well aligned with the region because it does not intrude on the diplomatic space occupied by ASEAN, for example. Now having said that, we have to be careful that Japan and Australia are American allies, while India is not.
So, I think one of the purposes of the QUAD is to help create a strategic platform and role for India to play a larger role and presence in the region and help balance China, bit more in the Indian Ocean rather than the East Asian maritime region.
As the final arrangements are being made for the leaders of four QUAD countries to meet in person in Washington on Sept. 24, what does the Quad summit signal for US engagement in the Indo-Pacific? Will the summit risk more assertiveness from the Chinese side in the region?
Well on the back of the alliance signed between US, UK, Australia or AUKUS which was announced last week, the QUAD meeting,
I think, is evidence that the US is genuinely focused on the Indo pacific and remember that this comes after the very disastrous withdrawal of the American troops from Afghanistan at the end of August.
Now, the reason for the withdrawal, from the American side was that they were going to be focused on the Indo pacific, so the QUAD comes at a time that allows the US and Biden administration to demonstrate its focus on the Indo-pacific.
I think the fact that it’s also a face-to-face meeting between leaders is significant. It’s in fact very significant. That broad strategic direction to focus on China and the Indo pacific needs to be given authority from the top level down. And I think it’s precise what president Biden
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