As four Indian naval ships participated in a two-day joint exercise with the American supercarrier USS Nimitz off the Andaman coast this week, another supercarrier USS Ronald Regan teamed up with navies of Australia and Japan to carry out a similar exercise 4,000 km away on the mouth of the contested South China Sea.
The official statements on the exercises did not name China that has been trying to throw its weight around its neighbours. It didn’t have to as the danger is clear and present with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi clearly stating this week that Beijing was moving to the centre of the globe – in effect expounding the Middle Kingdom concept.
The United States has emerged as the bulwark against China in the South China Sea and beyond, deepening partnerships with countries in Asia, Europe and Australia to secure Indo-Pacific from a bellicose China.The two exercises make it evident that India will be the principal ally to US in securing Indian Ocean Region while Japan and Australia will be key to protecting Pacific region.
The message that put China at the centre of the United States’ focus was reinforced by US defence secretary Mark Esper late on Tuesday.