China welcomes India’s ‘rejection’ of Australian request to join Malabar exercise
A report, quoting anonymous officials, said India had rejected Australia’s request to join the drill to avoid a hostile reaction from China.
China on Wednesday seemed to welcome India’s move to “reject” a request from Australia to join this year’s Malabar naval exercise, which involves India, Japan and the US and is usually held in the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean or West Pacific maritime regions.
The ministry of foreign affairs (MFA) said security concerns of countries should be taken into account while holding military drills.
“I have seen the relevant reports on the refusal made by India for the invitation. I think India is also clear about the consideration behind this behaviour,” MFA spokesperson Hua Chunying said at the regular ministry briefing on Wednesday.
A Reuters report from New Delhi, quoting anonymous officials, on Tuesday said India had rejected Australia’s request to join the drill to avoid a hostile reaction from China.
“We are happy to see the parties in the military field carry out normal dialogue and exchange. It is also desirable that all parties concerned should take full account of the security concerns of the countries in the region and that the exchange and cooperation should be able to play a constructive role in maintaining peace and stability in the region,” Hua said.
An ABC report in April, quoting Australian defence minister Marise Payne, said Canberra was interested in joining the exercise.
“Australia is very interested in a quadrilateral engagement with India, Japan and the United States. What form that may take is a matter of discussion between our various countries,” Payne was quoted as saying during a visit to Tokyo in April.
However, ever since the announcement, it was being speculated that India will reject Australia’s bid.
The Malabar exercise was started in 1992 with the US and India in the Indian Ocean; Japan joined in 2007. Since its inception, the scope of the exercise has gradually expanded, falling under Beijing’s glare.
Last year Chinese media sharply criticised the Malabar exercises, saying that they are designed to target China.
“Such a large-scale military exercise was obviously designed to target China’s submarine activities in the East and South China Seas in recent years, promote the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific and cement the US presence in the region,” the nationalistic tabloid Global Times wrote.
“Washington brought New Delhi and Tokyo into the exercise to relieve its pressure due to overstretched military presence around the globe and tighten its grip on the Asia-Pacific region,” it said.