US, Japan, Australia, India begin joint naval drill amid China rise

Kyodo News

Posted at Oct 13 2021 02:58 PM

Courtesy of Indian Navy
Courtesy of Indian Navy

WASHINGTON—The naval forces of the United States, Japan, Australia and India have started a joint exercise, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday, in the face of China's maritime assertiveness in the region.

The 4 nations, known as the "Quad," will hold the Malabar exercise until Thursday in the Bay of Bengal in the northeastern Indian Ocean, according to Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The exercise involves 2 Japanese escort vessels, the US Navy's nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, an Australian frigate and an Indian destroyer, the MSDF said.

The Quad nations are working together to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region and counter China's growing economic and military clout. The 4 countries also held a joint drill in late August as they bolster security cooperation.

In a joint statement released after the leaders of the 4 nations met in September, they said, "Together, we recommit to promoting the free, open, rules-based order, rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion, to bolster security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond."

In a press conference on Wednesday, Seiji Kihara, Japan's deputy chief Cabinet secretary, said, "I would like these exercises to lead to strengthening ties with the United States, India and Australia that share a vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific."

The Malabar exercises started in 1992 as a bilateral drill involving the US and Indian navies, with Japan joining in 2015. Australia returned to the exercises in 2020 after last participating in 2007.

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