New Delhi: The Quad holds significant importance in maintaining the power balance in Southeast Asia, and the partnership with India plays a crucial role in this regard, according to Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong in an exclusive interview with NDTV today. Wong emphasized the shared democratic traditions and values between India and Australia, as well as their common interests in maintaining a peaceful, stable, and prosperous region where sovereignty is respected.
Addressing concerns about Australia’s relationship with China in comparison to the Quad, often seen as an “anti-China alliance,” Wong stated that Australia will continue engaging with China while also expressing disagreement when necessary. She described the Quad as a group of countries that focus on the developments in the region and aim to provide value to the countries within it. These nations share a common view on the importance of the international system, the rule of law, and transparent and fair trading arrangements.
The Quad, consisting of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India, was revived in 2017 due to China’s increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. India, in particular, is considered by some as a potential counterweight to China economically and geopolitically.
When asked about China’s role in the region, Wong emphasized Australia’s focus on the observance of international law. The next meeting of the Quad is scheduled for January, and there are hopes that trade talks between India and Australia will be included in the agenda. However, Wong acknowledged that there is still work to be done in this area. Both countries already have an agreement that promotes tariff-free engagement and trade, but sensitive issues within each country’s economy need to be addressed.
Overall, the partnership between Australia and India within the Quad framework is seen as crucial in ensuring a balanced and prosperous region. Wong’s statements highlight the importance of shared values and interests in fostering this partnership, while also acknowledging the need for engagement with China and adherence to international law.