File photo of ships during the Malabar naval exercise
File photo of naval ships during the Malabar exercise | Commons
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New Delhi: India plans to invite Australia to join the annual Malabar naval exercise that has so far included just Japan and the U.S., in a move that could risk China’s ire.

The decision to include Australia in the drills — the first time all members of the regional grouping known as the Quad will be engaged at a military level — comes as Beijing and New Delhi are caught up in their worst border tensions in four decades. The exercise will bring together the navies of India, Japan, Australia and the U.S. in the Bay of Bengal at the end of the year, according to senior Indian officials who asked not to be identified, citing rules.

New Delhi is expected to clear the way next week for a formal invitation to Australia following final government clearance and consultations with the U.S. and Japan, the officials said.

“The timing of India potentially letting Australia into Malabar would be especially significant at this juncture,” said Derek Grossman, researcher at the Washington-based RAND Corporation who worked in the U.S. intelligence community for more than a decade. “It would send a significant message to China that the Quad — U.S., Australia, Japan, and India — are de facto conducting joint naval exercises, even if not technically conducted under the auspices of a Quad event.”

China has been uncomfortable with the informal coalition of four democracies, which was first formed in 2004 to help nations in the Indo-Pacific after the tsunami and revived in 2017. Post the coronavirus pandemic, the grouping has been coordinating efforts every month with Vietnam, South Korea and New Zealand.

Indian Navy Spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhawal declined to comment.

A spokesperson for Australia’s defense department said in an emailed statement on Friday that while the nation was yet to receive an invitation to Exercise Malabar, “Australia sees value in participating in quadrilateral defense activities in order to increase interoperability and advance our collective interests in a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”

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Also read: Navy sends more ships from Eastern fleet for deployment in Indian Ocean region


Strengthening Ties

While the Malabar exercises between U.S. and Indian navies were instituted in 1992, they have been more regular since 2004 with other Asian nations joining in the annual event. China had objected to the only other time Australia participated in the drills along with India, Japan, U.S. and Singapore in 2007.

India’s inclusion of Australia this year follows a defense agreement and upgrading ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The Mutual Logistics support agreement announced in May by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Scott Morrison allows access to each other’s bases and ports. India has a similar agreement with the U.S.

Canberra’s inclusion in the games was “only a matter of time” given improving defense and economic ties, according to Biren Nanda, former Indian High Commissioner to Australia and senior fellow at Delhi Policy Group. Australia’s merchandise trade with India for the year ended June 2019 was A$21.1 billion ($14.5 billion), according to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“There’s no direct relation between inviting Australia and what’s happening at the Sino-Indian border,” said Nanda in a phone interview. “This was a natural progression. Yet the question will be raised: how would the Chinese regard this? And they will react negatively. Just like they had done earlier.”

Weaponized Quad

China objected to Japan’s inclusion in the U.S-India annual Malabar event in 2015 with the then foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei warning “relevant countries” to not “provoke confrontation and create tension” in the region. Five years later, with an assertive China pushing neighbors across the Asian seas, Nanda expects a similar response.

Yet, there may be more acceptance to the idea of “like-minded democracies that seek to keep the Indo-Pacific free and open” amid India’s rapidly souring on China ties, purely out of frustration, said Rajeswari Pillai Rajagoplan, distinguished fellow at New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation and author of ‘Clashing Titans: Military Strategy and Insecurity Among Asian Great Powers.’

Although India and China are now in the process of disengaging along their 3,488 kilometer (2,167 mile) unmarked boundary in the Himalayas after high-level military and diplomatic talks, the deadly clashes that followed the months-long standoff in the Galwan valley was a blow to relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

“Especially after Galwan, there’s a growing realization in New Delhi’s elite circles that its increasingly difficult to trust China. They have broken more than four decades of agreements. Good trade ties are no guarantee of peace,” said Rajagoplan. “They have time and again tried to interfere in other nations’ foreign policy. But there’s an agreement in India that China should not have a say in who our friends are.”

With Washington indicating its willingness to back the region through an increased force deployment in Asia, the Malabar exercises may take on more importance.

“The Quad has always been a security platform but didn’t have a military context to it,” said Rajagopalan. “The Malabar exercises may give it just that thanks to China upping its ante and threatening the region’s security.”- Bloomberg


Also read: Army, Navy, IAF personnel can use private airlines to return to units, will be reimbursed


 

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18 Comments Share Your Views

18 COMMENTS

  1. With Kashmir being UT now, India should create permanent mountain corps, positioned across the 4000 kms (POK thru aksai chin till Nagaland. Also give open order to retaliate with permission only from their senior, after informing the government.

    Strengthen indian ocean up till south china sea with the help of Oz, Singapore, taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan. Foremost is to cut the wings and tail of the dragon, so that it can’t fly and can fight only on the ground!!

  2. India, not China is the 21st Century. Why? People. China is rapidly experiencing demographic death. How many grandchildren does your grandmother have? In China she would have one. Always one. The appaling one Child Policy doomed China.

  3. Why should India bother about what China thinks? China is waging war against India through its Proxy Pakistan and supporting their Terrorist Afiz Syed . Vetoed against India for NSG membership and so on. Occupied Tibet and our territories in Akhsay Chin and claiming Arunachal Pradesh. In spite of this why India should twice about what they think?

  4. This countries that have issues been provoked by China needs co-ordinated efforts to impose tougher measures internationally.

  5. In the previous years India was so fearful of China and still is, that it refused to invite Australia to take part. Why so?
    Because being gripped with fear India DID NOT WANT TO OFFEND INDIA and also at the same time it wanted TO APPEASE China so that China would reward with it some Peanuts and Goodies.
    The Chinese know very well that the Indians are very fearful of them and are very afraid to fight and die. Remember during the Kargil war, many parents of Indian army officers were writing to the Ministry of Defence asking that the sons not be sent to the Front Line. How shameful, indeed. Real Cowards.
    India is a fair weather friend of other nations and likewise all its friends are also fair weather friends of it. India does not have a single true friend in this world. Not even Russia. The USA is out of the question . It’s all India’s fault. Today India is looking for friends n support but can’t find any. Serve you right. The other problem with India is that those who attacked it always conquered it without a real fight. The Musalmans ruled India for about 8 centuries. 3000 Englishmen became masters of 300,000000 Indians for 400 years. Why? Bcos Indians hate war and are afraid to fight and die. Indians cannot be masters of others but on the other hand they make Good and Faithful Subjects of those who ruled over them. That’s their psyche. They are Mentally CONDITIONED that way.
    Modi is so fearful of China that he gave the whole of the Gulvan Valley to China on a Platter or shall I say in a Thali and this too by lying to the Nation that China had not occupied an inch of Indian territory. This LIE he told brazenly and blatanly on National TV. The Indiana gleefully swallowed his LIE hook, line and sinker. Simple minded people.
    Good Luck to you India, you are beyond help. Forget the Malabar Exercises. Have a good day folks.

    • It seems dog eating tribe learnt English, but the essence of human being still missing. We are Indians, we don’t bring war to man kind, but if war is the only thing you want, let the time speak, till then enjoy eating dog meat in supper.

    • Your English and the use of wrong idioms indicates your origin. Be careful next time you decide to act as a foreigner.

    • Ur comment is not correct. Agreed that our neighbours are now join to China due money so given to them. These neighborhoods country are very poor and small country and starving for development for long. Now china due to huge surplus money lends some development to nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to fulfill its dream of isolating india. Bcos India is only country in Asia to challenge the china and a big thorn in its plan . But india will stop Chinese plan systematically. China was pursuing its growth since last 40 years and made it great manufacturing hub of world. But nothing is permanent. Everything is having some inherent crack in the system. Modi is consistently doing good against china. In world nobody is good or bad. It is a situation of finance and geopolitical situation which needs to manage.

  6. India Has Been Very Considerate To Keep Up A Butterly Relations With The Virus Country.It Was Not Appreciated.High Time India Shore Up Its Defences Even At The Cost Of Hurting The Dragon In Whatever Way Possible.Butchering Of Our Soldiers Should Be Avenged.

  7. (1) HIMALAYAN BLUNDER 1962 by Nehru who didn’t buy AUTOMATIC Rifles for Army . Indian Army with Bolt Action 303 Rifles got killed by Chinese Army with AK47 AUTOMATIC Rifles……
    (2)HIMALAYAN BLUNDER 2020 by Modi by (a) Modi Cancelled 17 Mountain Strike Corps in 2014 which was sanctioned by UPA in 2013 – now India don’t have Mountain Troops to Stop Chinese Advance in Ladakh (b) Modi cancelled purchase of 126 Rafael Fighter jets – so Chinese are freely entering India and grabing more land.

    (1) नेहरू द्वारा HIMALAYAN BLUNDER 1962 जिन्होंने सेना के लिए ऑटोमेटिक राइफल्स नहीं खरीदे थे। भारतीय सेना ने बोल्ट एक्शन 303 राइफल्स के साथ चीनी सेना ने AK47 ऑटोमेटिक राइफल्स के साथ हत्या कर दी।……………..
    (2) HIMALAYAN BLUNDER 2020 मोदी द्वारा (a) मोदी ने 2014 में 17 माउंटेन स्ट्राइक कोर को रद्द कर दिया जिसे 2013 में UPA ने मंजूरी दे दी थी – अब भारत के पास लद्दाख में चीनी अग्रिम को रोकने के लिए माउंटेन ट्रूप्स नहीं हैं (b) मोदी ने 126 राफेल फाइटर जेट्स की खरीद को रद्द कर दिया – इसलिए चीनी स्वतंत्र रूप से भारत में प्रवेश कर रहे हैं और अधिक जमीन हड़प रहे हैं।

    • The laughable assertions of UPA buying 126 Rafael Fighter jets and raising Mountain Divisions reminds me of the following anecdote.
      **
      Two business partners planned to grow Sugercanes
      . One of them remarked that the villagers are unreliable thieves and likely to steal our sugarcanes to Suck on them . This thought infuriated both of them so much that they set fire to the entire village.
      The sad, perplexed villagers, busy dousing the flames, saw the two laughing and shouting. ” Suck on our Sugar canes, Suck more” { in Punjabi- Hor CHooppo Ganne }
      ” What Sugercanes are you talking about?” enquired the puzzled villagers.
      “The ones that we were going to grow!” said the prospective sugercane farmers

    • 1) mountain strike corps work is still under review and won’t start till next year atleast.
      2)Rafale deal was cancelled because France was supposed to help in developing kaveri engine and make rest of the 114 rafale in India after delivery of 36 rafale but company refused to help and wanted to renegotiate the contract for developing in India, which simply means 36 लेके phas गए हो बाकी भी lene padenge, but this government refused to buy more rafale,just do some research you will find relevant sources on that.

  8. China has so many territorial disputes with so many countries but still they call themselves as the peaceful country without ill intentions with any other country.
    1. India
    2. Nepal
    3. Bhutan
    4. South Korea (East China Sea EEZ)
    5. North Korea (East China Sea EEZ)
    6. Japan (Yellow Sea & ECS)
    7. Vietnam (SCS)
    8. Taiwan (SCS)
    9. Philippines
    10. Russia (Vladivostok)
    11. Singapore (SCS)
    12. Laos
    13. Tajikistan
    14. Cambodia
    15. Mongolia
    16. Tibet
    17. Brunei
    18. Indonesia
    19. Malaysia
    20. Myanmar
    21. Afghanistan
    22. Kyrgystan
    23. Kazakhstan
    24. Tajikistan
    25. Thailand

  9. India should also invite Indonesia to Malabar exercises, in addition to Australua.

    Security of India Ocean from threats from the East lies in Indian naval cooperation with Navies of Indonesia and Australia.

    Indian naval capacities have to be built up to dominate and control straits of Malacca, Lombok and operate in the Timor sea in cooperation with Australuan navy

  10. China has no shore in Bay of Bengal or Indian ocean. Its shores, territorial waters or EEZ are threatened. Why should China bother about what happens thousands of kilometers from its shores. It is the outsider here. One of these days, India must ask China to shut up and get out. China is poking its nose where it doesn’t belong.

    • Closely watch China objects to. That is what will deeply hurt them.

      India has a very strong and open maritime border wherein if the manufacturing base were in India, shipping goods across the world would be much easier.

      China’s biggest problem is lack of good marine routes, exactly why CPEC is so important. Hit them on the oceans and they will have to withdraw from their adventures in Ladakh.
      India is playing to China’s strength by trying to fight China in Kashmir. It is from Kanyakumari that we need to fight China from.

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