New Delhi, Dec 12: Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed his country’s participation in the ‘Malabar Operation’, a joint naval drill planned by India and United States of America (USA) in the north-eastern part of Indian Ocean, also known as Bay of Bengal. The confirmation from Abe was announced in the press release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs following the bilateral meeting between Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. Also Read - India-China Relations Looking up, Four Meetings at Highest Level in a Year Unprecendented: Sources
The Malabar Operation was last conducted in 2007, when Japan, USA, India and Singapore participated in the naval exercise. However, China was irked by the initiative of New Delhi and expressed its dissent with the member nations. Beijing also questioned the participating countries to explain the motive behind conducting the multilateral programme. Considering the dissent shown by China in 2007, Singapore has refused to participate in the Malabar Operation this time. (ALSO READ: India, US decide to deepen military-to-military ties) Also Read - G20 Summit: PM Modi Holds 1st Trilateral Meeting With Donald Trump, Shinzo Abe; Says Both Countries Are India's Strategic Partners
The decision to revive Malabar Operation was taken by the Narendra Modi-government as a tit-for-tat response to China’s joint military exercise with Sri Lanka in the Palk Strait, right at the toes of India. The bilateral relation is not seen by the NDA regime only through the prism of trade and investment. According to Indian foreign policy expert C Raja Mohan, “Modi’s Delhi is no longer willing to give Beijing a veto over its defence partnerships.” Also Read - Chinese Ambassador Says Can't Stand Another Doklam Incident; Proposes Trilateral Summit Between India, China And Pakistan
The revival of ‘Malabar Operation’ will send out a clear message to Beijing, who has constantly shown aggression on India’s North-Eastern border. On earlier occasions too, the Communist nation has accused New Delhi of attempting to assert its dominance in the Indian Ocean, which should be treated as a shared waterbody of South Asian nations. India cannot consider the Indian Ocean as its backyard and wishes no one compete with it there. If Pacific Ocean can accommodate both China and US, so is the Indian Ocean to accommodate India and China,” said Zhou Bo, senior fellow at Beijing based academy of military science.