NEW YORK: In the backdrop of China’s growing assertiveness in the region, US, India and Japan held the inaugural trilateral ministerial dialogue to discuss enhancing maritime security in the region. Representing a quarter of the world’s population and economic production power, the three countries highlighted their shared support for peace, democracy, prosperity and a rules-based international order.
US Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the inaugural US-India-Japan Trilateral Ministerial Dialogue with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 29. Highlighting the growing convergence of their respective countries’ interests in the Indo-Pacific region, the three ministers underscored the importance of international law and peaceful settlement of disputes, freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce, including in the South China Sea.
Reiterating their support for ASEAN centrality in the multilateral political and security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, the three ministers stressed on the importance of East Asia Summit as the premier leaders-level forum for addressing key political and security issues of the region. Agreeing to work together to maintain maritime security through greater collaboration, United States and India welcomed Japan’s participation in the 2015 Malabar exercise. The exercise will see Japan’s participation in this naval manouevre in the Bay of Bengal after eight years. Malabar exercise is an annual naval training exercise conducted by Indian and American Navy. This includes fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers and other joint banning exercises.
Recognising the three countries’ extensive disaster response capabilities and converging interests, they have agreed to convene an experts-level group on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to enhance ability to respond jointly to complex disasters. The three ministers launched an experts-level group on regional connectivity to identify collaborative efforts that can help strengthen regional connectivity, including between South and Southeast Asia to capitalise on collective capacities in promoting economic linkages.
China’s domination in the Indo-Pacific region has not only alarmed the countries in the region but has also made the countries join hands to tackle the rise of China. China has opposed international presence in South China Sea claiming that the entire sea belongs to China. On the other hand, China questions India’s claims in the Indian Ocean and says international waters do not belong to a single country and it can navigate in the region. China’s disputes with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, has further pushed Japan to gravitate towards an alliance with India and US.
With the just concluded meet between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama on September 28, the two leaders expressed satisfaction in the progress they are making collectively in Asia-Pacific after issuing the Joint Strategic Vision statement on Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region during the latter’s visit to India in January 2015. The strengthening of this alliance between India and US has rattled China. Japan’s addition now to the group is likely to make China more insecure.
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