The Quad or Quadrilateral coalition is finally fructifying with the first phase of the Malabar exercise kick-starting today in the Bay of Bengal. The Malabar exercise takes place against the backdrop of growing concern over Chinese expansionism in the Indo-Pacific region both on land and sea.
It is the first Malabar exercise after fresh attempts to rejuvenate the Quad coalition comprising India, the US, Japan and Australia. The four countries held a foreign ministers-level conference in Japan on October 6 which was followed by the India-US 2+2 dialogue (foreign and defence ministers) on October 26-27 in New Delhi.
What does the Malabar exercise signal?
The fact that Australia is participating in the Malabar naval exercise after 13 years is a serious reflection of the growing consensus among India, the US, Japan and Australia in matters of strategic interests particularly aimed at containing Chinese expansionism.
For India, the Malabar exercise has gained geostrategic prominence at a time China is trying to bully it on the borders. India and China are locked in a military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.