Amid border row with China, India on Monday announced that Australia will join the upcoming Malabar exercise which effectively means that all the four member countries of the ‘Quad’ or Quadrilateral coalition will be participating in the mega drill.
The US and Japan are the other countries that participate in the annual exercise. Malabar exercise is likely to take place next month in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
India’s decision to heed to Australia’s request to be part of the mega naval drill comes in the midst of growing strain in ties with China over the border row in eastern Ladakh.
“As India seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain, and in the light of increased defence cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 would see the participation of the Australian Navy,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
It said the exercise was planned on a ‘non-contact – at sea’ format.
“The exercise will strengthen the coordination between the navies of the participating countries,” the ministry said.
China suspicious of Malabar exercise
China has been suspicious about the purpose of the Malabar exercise. It feels that the annual war game is an effort to contain its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Malabar exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the Indian Navy and the US Navy in the Indian Ocean. Japan became a permanent participant in the exercise in 2015.
For the last few years, Australia had been showing keen interest in joining the exercise.
China has been using coercive tactics in pursuit of territorial and maritime claims in the South and East China Seas.
Beijing is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes,both in the South China Sea, and in the East China Sea. It has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Besides, both the areas are rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources, and are vital to global trade.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims over the area.