India v China: New Delhi teams up with allies in huge show of force against Beijing

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Tensions between Beijing and New Delhi have reached boiling point over recent weeks following a bloody clash between troops on the highly disputed Himalayan border. Now, India has confirmed Australia will be rejoining the controversial Malabar drills in the Bay of Bengal.

In a statement, India’s defence ministry said: “As India seeks to increase cooperation with other countries in the maritime security domain and in the light of increase defence cooperation with Australia, Malabar 2020 will see the participation of the Australian Navy.

“The participants of Exercise Malabar 2020 are engaging to enhance safety and security in the maritime domain.

“They collectively support free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific and remain committed to a rules based international order.”

The trilateral military event has been running since 1992 and includes the US and Japan.

This would mark the first time since 2007 Australia has taken part in the military exercise.

India withdrew their invitation after Beijing was angered when Australian warships attended the Bay of Bengal exercise.

Captain D.K Sharma, a former Indian navy spokesman, said the drills this year will be the biggest in years and welcomed the “challenge posed by China”.

He said: “This is a most welcome step.

“It will meet the challenge posed by China.”

Back in July, New Delhi teased Canberra’s involvement in the military exercise which sparked anger in Beijing.

The Global Times – a Chinese-state-run publication – claimed Australia’s involvement would pose a risk to China’s security.

They wrote at the time: “If Australia is included in the next Malabar drill, it will be the first time that all members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), an informal strategic forum between the US, Japan, Australia and India, coordinate at a military level.

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“It meets the strategic requirements of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy, and interests of the other three members of the group.

“The four countries to various extents have friction with China in different domains at the present stage.

“Putting pressure on China will be one of their aims for their possible military drills, which will pose a certain risk to China’s security.”

Global tensions are continuing to rise, with many countries banning Chinese companies such as Huawei on the grounds of national security.

The US, India and Australia have all banned the phone network with the UK moving forward with plans to also ban the network by 2027.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Australia and China’s relationship has deteriorated.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously called for an independent international inquiry into the origins of the crisis.

Beijing responded by slapping huge tariffs on Australian wheat exports as well as blacklisting three of the country’s largest beef suppliers.

It also hinted coal shipments could be locked down in Chinese ports in order to bully lawmakers.

Lowy Institute contributor, Aarti Betiger, said: “Australia’s strategy on engaging India has long revolved around the so-called three Cs: cricket, curry and the Commonwealth.

“In light of the changing status of bilateral relations in 2020, let’s add a couple more Cs to the list: China and containment of.”

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