India is mulling the possibility of joint naval exercises with Japan and Australia to further strengthen the blossoming military relationship between the three countries. Talks in this regard are to feature in the first ever high level trilateral meeting between India, Japan and Australia in New Delhi today.
The previous Congress led govt. had been lond desisting the move to avoid a strong reaction from China. India had received a strong protest from China the last time when it had carried out such joint talks with the US in 2007. But the Modi Govt. has taken a fresh approach to initiate trilateral talks with Japan and Australia not fearing any backlash from China.
The first meeting will be attended by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki and Australian Secretary of the department of foreign affairs and Trade, Peter Varghese. The talks in the meeting will mainly focus on the tensions in South China Sea and how the three could come together to assure “Freedom of Navigation” in international waters.
Preliminary talks have already taken place and a joint military naval exercise is very much a possibility. It will help the navies of the three nations to learn how to work together and join forces in the even of a major conflict.
Washington has been kept out for now in the trilateral talks. The US is the main security provider of both Australia and Japan and is very keen to get India on board to counter the growing China threat. India along with United States, Australia and Japan can effectively counter any Chinese aggression in the South China Sea or elsewhere. Washington will continue to deploy its military and pivot its forces in the Asia Pacific region as part of its national agenda to protect smaller and weaker coountries from China’s aggressiva naval expansion.
India under Congress rule has been reluctant to be seen as part of any multi-national formulation that could be preceived as being an anti-China block. In 2007, a multi-national dialogue between Japan, Australia, India and the US was initiated but was short lived after India pulled back after a strong protest by China to all the member states.
Congress led UPA govt. had hosted the 2007 round of Malabar naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal that had all the above nations participating but India soon became very sensitive after China strongly protested the multinational naval exercises.
However, the Modi led BJP govt. seems to be moving in a different direction. It is showing clear signs of not getting bogged down by any amount of Chinese pressure. India under Modi will move ahead with not only the multilateral Malabar series of naval exercises with major democracies of the world but will also host joint talks with like minded nations.