The UK joining the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) also known as the "Asian NATO" may be discussed during Prime Minister Boris Johnson's planned visit to India, where the sides will deal with ways to counter China, The Times reports. The Quad currently consists of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia.
Johnson was due to be the guest of honour at India's Republic Day parade on 26 January 2021, but he cancelled his visit after announcing a nationwide lockdown in the UK to combat the rise of a new strain of coronavirus. He is expected to travel to India as soon as conditions allow.
The Telegraph, in turn, reported that with no clear-cut proposals for Johnson yet, there is thought to be an "appetite" in the British government to join the Quad alliance in a bid to tackle China's increasing assertiveness on the global stage.
The report came after UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said during a visit to India in December that Britain had not ruled out joining the Quad and that the issue would be discussed during Johnson's visit to New Delhi.
The statement was preceded by former Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal suggesting that the Quad countries will continue to bolster naval cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region as "countervailing maritime pressure on China" will be underway.
This followed the alliance's four foreign secretaries holding talks in Japan in October 2020, during which the US hit out at the Chinese government over what Washington described as "exploitation, corruption, and coercion".
The US and its allies are at loggerheads with China over a whole host of issues, including Taiwan, Huawei's 5G network, and alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
In November 2017, the US, Japan, Australia, and India concluded an agreement to create an "Indo-Pacific" security framework, also known as the Quad for patrolling and exerting its influence on waterways from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and the disputed East and South China seas.