The Quad may or may not gravitate to a higher calling in joint cooperation such as emerging technologies but it may have snuffed out the visions of an “Asian Century” envisaged by non-western leaning strategists in Asia. Proponents of this outlook suggest that the era of western domination since the 19th and 20th centuries is ending and the time has come for the resurgence of Asia.

Optimists like Kishore Mehbubani still hold the view that the pandemic will consolidate Asia’s dominance in world affairs and the global economy and their deference to western societies will be replaced by respect for East Asia and India. But with India and China now pulling in different directions after the Galwan valley clash of June 15, the part of Asia extending eastwards of India may be at the mercy of external powers.

With the impressive economic growth of China, India and that of Southeast Asian countries, scholars had started talking about 21st century as an Asian century, agrees Dhanajay Tripathi, an expert on international relations at South Asia University.

“The Quad summit is the first concrete step in killing the dream of the ‘Asian Century’ — strategic competition in Asia as of now appears unavoidable. Although the key is still with India and China, provided both are willing to resolve their bilateral issues peacefully, he observes. The ‘Asian Century’ is about a united Asia dominating world politics. In the past, both India and China showed a willingness to strengthen their ties. While trade between the two improved over the years, the border dispute remained unresolved.

Moreover, the Chinese aggressive posture towards India last summer broke the illusion that there will only be healthy competition between the two. “When India-China political relations remain tense, the Quad summit brings India close to powers interested in checking China’s rise. With Western powers again getting involved in Asia, the concept of the Asian century will lose its attractiveness,” he observes.