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India to invite China’s foe Australia to join the annual Malabar naval exercise


China’s relations have not only deteriorated with India and the United States but also Australia. On Friday, China warned Australia to stop “meddling” in Hong Kong’s affairs. “We reserve the right to take actions and all consequences will be borne by the Australian side,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

“We urge the Australian side to immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs under any pretext or in any way. Otherwise, it will lead to nothing but lifting a rock only to hit its own feet,” he added. There are also trade disputes going on between the two nations with Chinese Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan not returning phone calls from his Australian counterpart Simon Birmingham.

Amid all this, India plans to invite Australia to join the annual Malabar naval exercise for the first time ever. The exercise will bring together the navies of India, Japan, Australia and the U.S. in the Bay of Bengal at the end of the year, said senior Indian officials. This move could mean risking China’s ire, reported Bloomberg Quint.

New Delhi is expected to send a formal invitation to Australia following clearance and consultations with the U.S. and Japan, the officials said.

“The timing of India potentially letting Australia into Malabar would be especially significant at this juncture. It would send a significant message to China that the quad — U.S., Australia, Japan, and India — are de facto conducting joint naval exercises, even if not technically conducted under the auspices of a Quad event,” said Derek Grossman, a researcher at the Washington-based RAND Corporation who worked in the U.S. intelligence community for more than a decade.

Meanwhile, former Australian High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu said that India and Australia’s strategic alignment in the Indo-Pacific region along with people to people connections are driving the bilateral ties between the two countries to an elevated level.

“The India-Australia relationship is at an elevated level now. What’s actually driving the relationship between the two countries is the strategic alignment in the Indo-Pacific region as well as people to people connections. Australia and India should aim to become the two strongest partners,” Sidhu said at a virtual interaction as a part of India Global Week 2020.



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