[News Today] EYE ON CHINA-AUSTRALIA LOOKING TO JOIN USA,INDIA & JAPAN FOR NAVAL DRILS: TOP 5 FACTS
As Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull comes to India, the participation of Australia in naval drills in the Indian Ocean Region— comprising India, the US, Japan—is likely to come up for discussion. The naval exercise named Malabar is conducted every year in the Bay of Bengal.
Australia had participated in the military drills in 2007, however, the former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd reportedly backed out of the exercises in 2008 due to Chinese pressure.
Originally a bilateral exercise between India and the United States, Japan became a permanent partner in 2015.
Let us go into the details.
China’s sweeping claims of sovereignty over the sea have provoked competing claimants Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Non-claimants like USA, India, Australia & Japan want the South China Sea to remain as international waters with freedom of navigation, whereas China want to control this major trade way .It is a very important sea route with 5 trillion $ in trade, half of global merchant shipping and 1/2 of world’s oil shipment pass through it. The sea also has alleged 11 billion barrels of untapped oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. US has also long accused China of aggressive espionage & reverse engineering and manipulating it currency, which has hurt US interests.
Tokyo issued a new defense white paper that identifies the “growing assertiveness” of China as Japan’s most serious challenge. PM Abe has also reiterated his determination to use the crushing parliamentary majority he now enjoys to remove from Japan’s constitution provisions, which restrict his ability to deploy or use military force. In Japan, the consensus has been growing that engagement with China is starting to look like it was a mistake. China has not changed politically, nor has it developed grateful or friendly feelings toward Japan. On the contrary, it has come increasingly to look like Japan’s worst nightmare – a strong; Communist led one party state, angry and harboring revengeful sentiment toward Tokyo. Most worrying of all, China is now building up military assets that look increasingly like they are pointed directly at Japan’s interests.
In the last decade, China has aggressively worked to upgrade its infrastructure along the 4057 km Indo-China border. This has been a major concern for India. Chinese army has even transgressed into Indian Territory on multiple instances, and there have been several standoffs. India and China have border dispute. China has claimed major parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
Despite the statement by a top US Navy officer that Malabar was “not directly aimed at China”, there is very little doubt about who is the target. The exercise is conducted only about 400 KM from the contested Senkaku Islands.
Scenarios include hunting for Chinese submarines, ships and countering hostile Chinese navy.
The exercise has gained greater significance with India and the US has signed an important agreement. The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) allows them to use each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply.
USA is bound by The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security to help Japan. For the convenience of viewers, here is a brief detail of the agreement.
Relations with China are one of the most important aspects of Australia’s foreign policy. As an emerging great power in our region with whom Australia is developing a major economic relationship, good relations with China will become an increasingly prominent feature of Australia’s international interests. But maintaining good relations with China is also one of the most difficult challenges for Australian policymakers.
The stakes are high too for Australia. The US is Australia’s greatest ally and strategic partner while China is its biggest trading partner. Strategically, Australia is concerned about China’s growing military presence and intentions in South China Sea. This is main reason Australia is interested in joining the Malabar exercise.
Malabar is a great exercise for all the Navies involved to understand one another’s skills and operational capabilities. It will also
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