Speaking through military pundits, China reacted quickly to the virtual meeting on Thursday among members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, saying it must draw red lines and stand-up to the quasi military alliance.
Established in 2017 by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Quad brings together Australia, India, Japan and the United States. It seeks to create an "Asian Arc of Democracy" and resist communist Chinese expansionism in the Indo-Pacific.
Quad is also called the "Asian NATO." Talks between the foreign ministers of all four Quad members on Thursday are said to have included transforming Quad into a formal military alliance later to be expanded to include the United Kingdom and other like-minded democracies.
Military experts quoted by the Global Times, a newspaper owned by the Communist Party of China, assert that China must use all the resources at its command to counter Quad early on.
China should remain concerned about whether the U.S. wants to turn Quad into a complete anti-China club, and respond to words and deeds that harm China, said Ruan Zongze, executive vice president of the China Institute of International Studies, a research institute directly administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ruan believes President Joe Biden will use Quad as a diplomatic vehicle to advance U.S. regional interests in the Indo-Pacific region and declare that "Captain America is back."
China should now draw "red lines" against Quad and retaliate with diplomatic and economic tools if the alliance threatens China's economic and national security.
Ni Feng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, contends that China needs to make full use of its economic cards to counter provocations by Quad. China's ongoing economic punishment of Australia proves just how effective the economic weapon can be, said Ni.
"The Quad is the centerpiece of the so-called Indo-Pacific Strategy, and the framework will play a greater role in the Biden administration's efforts to contain China," according to Ni.
Ni said Biden inherited the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the Trump administration. He also contends the other Quad members plan to goad the U.S. into making war on China.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is China's leading national academic research organization. It's supervised by the powerful State Council, China's chief administrative authority.
Some analysts, however, argue Quad could be more of a hedge against China's vision for a new China-dominated Asian order. China's economic clout in Asia was given a huge boost with the signing in November 2020 of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's largest free trade agreement (FTA).
The U.S. isn't part of RCEP since ex-president Donald Trump withdrew his country's participation in the pact. RCEP is an FTA between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their five FTA partners (Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea).