TO RESIST the Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific, Australia will take part in a large-scale military drill off the coast of India named Malabar naval exercise in November after 13 years.
Australia is participating along with India, Japan, the US for the first time since 2007.
The exercise that will bring together a quartet of countries concerned by rising Chinese influence.
According to analysts the move will likely spark Chinese protest.
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is an informal strategic forum between the US, Japan, Australia and India that is maintained by semi-regular summits, information exchanges and military drills between member countries.
Australian defence minister Linda Reynolds said the exercise was about “demonstrating our collective resolve to support an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific” — a well-used allusion to countering China’s authoritarian power.
India’s ministry of defence said the naval drill would take place in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, which has been a hotspot for Indo-Chinese strategic competition.
Over the last few decades, China has tried to significantly increase influence in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, prompting acute concern in New Delhi.
The drill comes at a time of diplomatic tensions between China and Australia, economic tensions between China and the US and military tensions between China and India.
India and China have poured tens of thousands of troops into a remote border zone since fighting a pitched battle in June which killed 20 Indian troops and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers.
The so-called “quad” has been touted as a means of countering Chinese influence — including an enormous decades-long investment in modernising the People’s Liberation Army-Navy.
A renewed push to develop the “quad” into a formal counterbalance to China has included talks between foreign ministers in Tokyo earlier this month.
At that meeting, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo called on Asian allies to unite against China’s “exploitation, corruption and coercion” in the region.
The forum was initiated as a dialogue in 2007 by Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe, with the support of vice president Dick Cheney of the US, prime minister John Howard of Australia and prime minister Manmohan Singh of India.
The first iteration of the Quad ceased to exist following the withdrawal of Australia in February 2008, shortly after Australian PM Kevin Rudd took office, after a joint naval exercise between the Quad and Singapore drew diplomatic protests from China.