Quad countries evolving a common maritime awareness picture and improving interoperability
Acknowledging the rapid expansion of the Chinese Navy in recent years, especially in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the four countries of the Quad on Wednesday stressed improving interoperability and evolving a “common maritime awareness picture” while not attributing any military angle to the grouping which is seen as a counter to China’s expansion. “Free and open Indo-Pacific is not a containment strategy for China… We are not asking people to choose between U.S. and China,” Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, said during a discussion at the Raisina Dialogue.
Navy Chiefs and top Navy officers of India, Australia, Japan and the U.S. were present along with the Australian Army Chief. Referring to the recent steps between India and the U.S. in expanding cooperation, including the signing of the second foundational agreement, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said, “We have a common maritime awareness picture.” The Indian Navy recently inaugurated an Information Fusion Centre- Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) where friendly countries in the region will have liaison officers for information sharing.
All Quad countries as well as France have expressed interest in posting a liaison officer. The U.S. has been conducting Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by China. “I welcome operations, exercises in the SCS and freedom of navigation operations from any other nation, welcome India,” Admiral Davidson stated. Admiral Davidson said that it was the responsibility of all our nations here to help the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations in their discussions for a Code of Conduct with China in the SCS. The four quad countries represent the open inclusive rule-based order, Admiral Lanba said.