India plans multilateral naval exercise in Indian Ocean to counter China threat

Jul 24, 2015, 09:04 am

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US and Japan will join India in the naval exercise in October aimed at containing China

On July 9 local time, the 7th BRICS Summit was held in Ufa, Russia. President Xi Jinping of China, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa attended the Summit./ Photo=UFA=Xinhua/ Newsis


By Ha Man-joo, India correspondent, AsiaToday - Tensions are rising between India and China over the Indian Ocean. India has thrown out the "multilateral naval exercise" card in order to counter China's influence in the Indian Ocean.

It has been reported on July 22 that the Indian government will conduct a joint naval exercise, where the United States and Japan will take part, in the Indian Ocean in October.

According to a navy and a diplomatic source in New Delhi, military officials from the US, Japan, and India met to discuss the proposed naval exercise at an American Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan on July 21 and 22. Japanese government officials also confirmed that naval representatives from the three countries discussed the participation of the Japanese Navy in the exercise.

The three countries discussed the type of warships and planes the navies will use for the upcoming exercises in the Bay of Bengal in the northeastern Indian Ocean.

The Indian Ministry of Defense has reportedly declined any comment on the plan, and Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force has revealed that nothing has been confirmed yet.

This is the first time that India is hosting such a multilateral naval exercise in eight years since 2007, when it invited Japan, Australia and Singapore to join its drills with the US navy in the Bay of Bengal. As China had protested strongly against the exercise, India has not participated in a multilateral naval exercise held near Indian Ocean since then.

However, recent Chinese government move prompted the Indian government 's decision. A military expert in Beijing said, "India treats the Indian Ocean as its backyard and tries to hold a monopolistic position in the region, but it cannot guarantee the security of the Indian Ocean alone. Just like the Pacific Ocean where China and the US have control over, the Indian Ocean should be (jointly) controlled by both China and India."

On July 1, a Chinese military official said, "The Indian Ocean cannot be a backyard of India," prompting the Indian government and revealing its intention to expand its power.

In fact, China has been accelerating its power expansion in the India Ocean. China's President Xi Jinping made a vist to Pakistan back in April, and signed a deal promising investment of $46 billion for economic cooperation.

This project is to build a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will run some 3,000 km from Gwadar in Pakistan to China's western Xinjiang region. China will have the operating rights for Gwadar Port for 40 years.

This marks a major advance in China's strategy to boost its influence in Asia and to contain the American pivot to Asia and the Indian Ocean's leading power, India.

In addition, China also strengthen its military activities by docking its submarines in the Pakistani port of Karachi port back in May, following the docking of its submarines in Sri Lanka last year.

In response, the Indian government decided to conduct a multilateral naval exercise in eight years. An Indian foreign policy expert said, "It means that the Modi government is no longer willing to accept Chinese government's veto in its defense strategies."

India has been conducting joint naval exercises near India's southwestern Malabar coast every year. This time, Japan is added to join the naval exercises to strengthen the containment of China.

#India #Indian Ocean #multilateral naval exercise #China 
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