FEARS of open conflict in east Asia have surged after Australia agreed joined the US, Japan and India to join naval drills that experts claim are aimed at China.
Relations between Beijing and a number of its neighbours have sharply deteriorated in recent months due to disputes over territory and trade In 2017 the Quad security alliance, made-up of the US, India, Japan and Australia was reformed.
On Monday India invited Australia to its upcoming Malabar naval exercises that will also feature forces from the US and Japan. Previously India, which has historically been unaligned, rejected Australian involvement for fear of offending Beijing.
However relations between New Delhi and China have dramatically worsened this year with a number of armed clashes along their disputed border. The annual Malabar naval exercise began in 1992 between the United States and India, with Japan becoming a permanent participant in 2015.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) John Blaxland, a professor at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said it was clear the expanded Malabar exercise is aimed at China.