Washington, DC – In context of China’s unilateral military expansion and aggressive posture in the East China Sea, Taiwan Strait, South China Sea and other Indo- Pacific regions, the first phase of the Malabar naval exercises that include the US, Japan, India and Australia kicked off on November 3.
The drills are significant for India which is locked in a long term standoff at the northern borders with China along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. Indian navy intends to fine tune its compatibility with US systems used by the navies of participating countries, especially the communication systems, which will become a mainstay of future coordinated efforts by these navies to check the activities of PLA Navy in the region.
The 24th Malabar exercise is the first maritime joint military exercise in which all members of ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’ or QUAD have participated. Facing frequent appearance of Chinese naval submarines in the Indian Ocean, one of the key features of the drills will be to strengthen coordinated anti-submarine operation drills.
The inclusion of Australia in the exercises is key, as Australia has recently been at loggerheads with China, with CCP leadership scaling its attack on Australia for its stand on human rights violations against ethnic minorities. Australia is also cleansing political inroads made by Communist Party in local politics, which has raised temperatures with Beijing from time to time.
In addition to the four countries participating in the exercises, Germany has also shown its willingness to get involved in the Indo-Pacific region. Germany is anticipated to join the Australian Navy and patrol the Indian Ocean.
German defense minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in an interview with an Australian newspaper claimed that a German naval presence in the Indo-Pacific region would help safeguard the rules-based international order, and “hopes to be able to deploy next year”. The article also mentions that, “German officers are expected to be deployed with the Australian Navy, and a German frigate will patrol the Indian Ocean under Berlin’s plan to manage China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.” The German government on September 2 released policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific region.
In the backdrop of current geopolitical context in the Indo-Pacific region, where Chinese PLA Navy is showing aggressive posture from Straits of Taiwan to South China Sea, India’s purpose of enhancing its ties with democratic navies is simple: countering China. India intends to strengthen its naval ties to put geo-political pressure on China in the high seas, with a clear intent that India is ready to counter any misadventure of hide and seek by Chinese naval vessels both on surface and under waters of Indian Ocean.