NEW DELHI: The US has proposed to hold the first meeting of the leaders of the Quad—India, US, Japan and Australia— to counterbalance China’s rise.

The move comes as the US President Joe Biden’s new administration appears eager to build on renewed attention to the grouping of the four major Indo-Pacific democracies, with national security adviser Jake Sullivan calling it “a foundation upon which to build substantial American policy in the Indo-Pacific.”

India is yet to firm up its position on this proposed meeting amid the standoff on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. Neither is India a treaty ally of the US, unlike Japan and Australia, nor does it favour creating a military architecture for Quad at this stage. Besides India’s decades-old military partner, Russia, has expressed reservations on the Quad and its intentions. The meeting is proposed to be held virtually.

During the proposed meeting, the nations are expected to discuss cooperation for the realisation of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” amid concerns over China’s maritime assertiveness in the region, according to persons familiar with the development. It is expected that China will react to it.

Officially known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Quad was created in 2004 in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami. The first meet of senior officials was held few years later.

The group activities were revived in 2017 and have since grown beyond humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, most recently focusing on efforts to advance “a free, open and inclusive” Indo-Pacific region, according to the US State Department.

For the first time under the framework, the foreign ministers of the four countries met in New York in 2019. The second meeting was held in Tokyo last October in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

After the talks in October, the then-US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, had said that his government hopes to “institutionalise” the Quad grouping, saying it has the capacity to “push back against the Chinese Communist Party.”

Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga agreed during recent telephone talks that they would promote the Quad grouping, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Biden has also vowed to counter China’s economic abuses and aggressive behaviour by rebuilding alliances, though it is unclear how the partnership of four will evolve.