War games in Indian Ocean: India-US-Japan Malabar exercise to raise stakes

The stakes in the new game unfolding in the Indian Ocean are rising by the day. Against the backdrop of China’s growing clout and assertiveness in the region, the world’s three maritime democracies, the US, Japan and India, are set to conduct joint naval exercises in October. It’s not official yet, but senior military officials from India, US and Japan met at an American Navy base in Yokosuka, near Tokyo on July 22 to discuss the details of the forthcoming Malabar Naval exercises.
The three countries, who also hold a trilateral meeting every year, are expected to deny that the exercise is targeted at China, but Beijing will be watching closely how the Malabar exercise plays out.
While China objected to Japan’s Defence Review, it has not reacted with the same intensity so far on the proposed joint naval exercises between the three countries. The last time the exercise was held where Australia, Japan and Singapore were also invited by India to its drills with the US navy elicited such a strong reaction from Beijing that it was never held after that. The event is likely to send alarm bells ringing in Beijing, with more alliances being formed in the region against it. While China may have made inroads into the global financial system by setting up new financial institutions challenging the US, the US retains its military clout in the region, and still dominates the seas due to its naval superiority. China sees this strategy of the US as the one similar to forming groups such as NATO and a US-led security grouping in Asia-Pacific.

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