The Covid disaster in India exposed the weakest link in the US-led “four-nation” alliance

The catastrophic wave of Covid-19 in India not only undermined its ambition to become a “world pharmacy”, but also undermined the US plan for New Delhi to play a leading role in countering China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

President Joe Biden saw Reinvigorate the “quartet”A diplomatic and security initiative composed of the United States, India, Japan, and Australia is an integral part of his strategy to resist China’s economic and military aggression.

But India’s coronavirus crisis and the subsequent Vaccine export ban For the first time, the Quartet is trying to prove that it can provide practical help to the region, not just an anti-China military alliance. On the contrary, India’s failure created opportunities that China is taking advantage of.

Constantin Noxavier of the Center for Social and Economic Progress in New Delhi said: “The pandemic is a test of reality-there is no way to bypass it-it exposes the structure of the Indian state in the crudest way we have never seen it. Sexual defects, a think tank.

Avinash Paliwal of the Soas Institute for South Asian Studies at the University of London said the crisis exposed the gap between “India’s idea of ​​a rising power” and its ability to fulfill its promises.

“The image of India has always surpassed itself,” he added. “But the world is realizing the limitations of India as a rising power. Even Indians have misunderstood their abilities.”

Washington took the lead Quadruple Vaccine Initiative This means that India needs to produce jabs for Southeast Asia with the financial and logistical support of Washington, Canberra and Tokyo.

New Delhi welcomed the plan at a summit in March because it affirmed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that India is “ready to use locally made jabs to protect humanity”.

“This proves our reputation as a reliable manufacturer of high-quality vaccines and medicines,” said Harsh Vardhan Shringla, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of India.

Three months later, India’s international status as a reliable vaccine supplier — and China’s regional foil — was at stake and became a victim of the Modi government. Not getting enough vaccines For one’s own person.

Faced with a surge in Covid-19 cases and growing calls for jabs, New Delhi has imposed De facto ban Regarding the export of commercial vaccines from the Indian Private Serum Institute.

Its smaller neighbours Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka—New Delhi is competing with China for influence—have no supply. The Covax program supported by the World Health Organization aims to ensure that vaccines reach developing countries. Hit hard.

“The hype is beyond reality,” said Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace. “The assumption here is that India is a huge pharmaceutical machine that can produce these vaccines in the heartbeat.”

Just a few months ago, Narendra Modi stated that India is “ready to protect humanity” © AP

Xavier said that the suspension of vaccine supply to neighboring countries that have already paid for the vaccine “obviously affects India’s reputation and reliability,” creating a gap in Beijing. Move quickly to fill.

“From the perspective of these countries, China is becoming stronger,” he said. “If you can’t keep your house in order, you don’t have much legitimacy to tell others how to manage their affairs.”

Washington insists that it is taking “necessary measures” to ensure that the Group of Four countries can achieve its goal of providing 1 billion doses of vaccine to Asia by the end of 2022.

Kurt Campbell, a senior White House official in Asia, said last week: “Our discussions with private sector partners and government partners show that we are still working hard to achieve the 2022 goal.”

Campbell said that despite the setbacks, Washington still believes that Quad is “a profound impact on the 21st century” and may hold a face-to-face summit and new infrastructure plans this year.

In the short term, India’s Covid plight will affect the alliance’s ability to solve other issues of common concern, such as technology supply chains and network policies.

Lisa Curtis of the New American Security Center in Washington said: “Now, people don’t pay too much attention to what the Group of Four will do in terms of technology or security, because India will be distracted.” “This is just a small problem, we It has to be attributed to the unpredictability of the coronavirus.”

Evan Medros of Georgetown University said, “Among the four partners, India will always be the biggest challenge” because of its “limited capabilities” and traditional “non-alignment” tendencies.

But 21 Indian soldiers were in a field Conflict with the Chinese army Along their common borders consolidated New Delhi’s commitment to Quad as a source of support.

Palivar said: “This is a country that has shown blood to challenge China.” “Despite all the problems and dysfunctions, this is a very powerful signal.”

Palival said India’s allies will make “anticipated adjustments” to New Delhi’s capabilities, but common interests will ensure continued cooperation.

“Quad’s idea, Quad’s practice will not go anywhere,” he said. “Every ally will continue to hope that India can deliver.”

But people still have doubts about India’s potential as a regional power. “‘Can India keep its promise?” Thales asked. “This is a problem everyone is trying to solve.”

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About the Author: Agnes Zang