New Delhi: In a snub to China, India has invited Australia to its trilateral naval exercise "Malabar" in November with USA and Japan.
India, US, Japan and Australia are part of the "Quad" alliance, which Beijing considers as an anti-China grouping. Now, all the Quad countries will be participating in a naval war game this year.
While Australia wanted to be part of the Malabar exercise for some time now, India was hesitant to invite it to avoid any angry reaction from China. However, China's aggression at the line of actual control in Eastern Ladakh since May this year, seemed to have finally made India to come out of its reluctance and invite Australia to the Naval exercise.
This move will not go down well with China which wants to dominate the seas as seen by its aggression is South China sea and is investing heavily in its navy.
Indian Navy has already conducted bilateral exercises with each US, Japan and Australian Navies this year.
In 2020, Malabar exercise will be held in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
"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 will see the participation of the Australian Navy," said defence ministry in a statement.
It said that the participants of exercise Malabar 2020 are engaging to enhance safety and security in the maritime domain. "They collectively support free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and remain committed to a rules based international order," it added.
The Malabar series of naval exercises started in 1992 as a bilateral Indian Navy-US Navy exercise. Japan joined the Naval exercise in 2015. This annual exercise has been conducted off the coast of Guam in the Philippine Sea in 2018 and off the coast the Japan in 2019. This year, the exercise has been planned on a ‘non-contact - at sea’ format.