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Q. Malabar exercise : Recent Malabar exercise is seen more as a threat to China rather than an initiative to protect the interests of group members. Comment
Jul 25, 2017 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

  • History points towards defense groupings as one of the reasons for world wars. Though the recent Malabar exercise is not similar to those groupings of peace-time but scale of exercise is seen as a response to the Doklam stand-off between India and China. 
  • From  July 10 and going until July 17, Indian, Japanese and US naval forces were came together, exchanged best practices and crews practiced communication, search and rescue, antisubmarine operations, boarding tactics, etc..
  • This helps participants from all three countries to learn from each other, build interoperability, and make them prepared to work together in any future mission. This ensures shared interests of the group (the threat from piracy to humanitarian disasters) in the Indo-Pacific region are protected.
  • This June, ships from the US and Indian navies rushed to Sri Lanka to assist with medical and disaster relief when floods gripped the island nation. Building maritime partnerships, enhancing interoperability, and increasing joint capacity help foster security and stability in the region.
  • The recent event is seen more as a response from India to the Doklam issue. But, India may not succeed. This is because in a globalized world oceans are seen as a shared global common, with equal rights for all user states. Hence, except the disputed a sea-space (Ex. South China Sea) or a geopolitically troubled area (Ex. Persian Gulf), no coastal state can deny another the use of the high seas. 
  • Peace-time exercises enjoy assured access to the seas that lie beyond national territorial waters. Though decreasing (in the background of unsuccessful trade dialogue between China and USA), Beijing’s key role in the geopolitics and economics of the Indian Ocean region, a plan to deny its warships entry into India’s surrounding seas is unlikely to succeed.
  • The alternatives are- India could now resort to a strategy of counter-power projection by expanding the scope of its naval deployments in the South China Sea. Indian Navy could plan to use the South China Sea’s geopolitically sensitive spaces for the strategic power projection. Such a strategy is bound to have a deterrent effect on China’s naval posture in the Indian Ocean region. After an arbitral tribunal invalidated many of China’s historical rights within the nine-dash line, Beijing has been extremely cautious about perceived challenges to its authority. 
  • This vulnerability must be taken advantage of by India. The Indian Navy must plan for counter-presence in China’s near-seas, where Beijing cannot prove a territorial infringement, yet feel the pinch of a perceived violation of its political sphere of influence.


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