In a move that could risk China’s ire, India has planned to invite Australia to form part of the annual Malabar naval exercise. It is to be noted that so far, the exercise has included just Japan and the United States.
According to senior Indian officials, the exercise will bring together the navies of India, Japan, Australia and the U.S. in the Bay of Bengal at the end of the year.
“The timing of India potentially letting Australia into Malabar would be especially significant at this juncture. It would send a significant message to China that the Quad – U.S., Australia, Japan, and India – are de facto conducting joint naval exercises, even if not technically conducted under the auspices of a Quad event,” said Derek Grossman, researcher at the Washington-based RAND Corporation who had worked in the U.S. intelligence community.
India is likely to clear way for a formal invitation to Australia after getting a nod from the government and consultations with the U.S. and Japan.