Malabar exercise more bluster than real deterrence in East China Sea:- Chinese Media

Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the US Seventh Fleet, said earlier this month that India, Japan and the US are set to focus their next round of marine war games, the Malabar exercise, on anti-submarine warfare. The exercise has “assumed significance” at a time when “China has become more assertive, and their submarines forays in the Indian Ocean region have increased,” said India Today. It indicates a continuation of the Malabar 2016 that targeted China.

The Malabar exercise started in 1992 with the US and India in the Indian Ocean. Since Japan joined in 2007, it has alternated between the West Pacific and the Indian Ocean. In June, the three countries held their largest ever joint exercise, which involved 11 vessels and 8,000 personnel.

As they planned to enhance their anti-submarine warfare operations, analysts believe that they would jeopardize the peace and stability in the East China Sea region so as to distract China’s attention from the South China Sea and disturb the political landscape in the Asia-Pacific.

The Malabar 2016 was held in Japanese waters between Sasebo Naval Base and Okinawa in an apparent effort to deter China’s presence in the East China Sea and ensure the so-called free navigation in the region. The US sent one aircraft carrier, one guided-missile cruiser, three guided-missile destroyers, a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft. The Indian fleet included two stealth frigate, one tanker and one Kirch-class corvette with integral helicopters. The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force was represented by the JS Hyuga helicopter carrier, with SH 60 K integral helicopters and long-range maritime patrol aircraft, along with other assets.

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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. 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. Becoming a permanent member of the Malabar in 2015, Japan wanted to enhance its military cooperation with the US and find a solution to the disputes over the Diaoyu Islands. And India hoped to enhance the anti-submarine capability of its navy that has tracked “at least six Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean region” -according to Indian media – and to disrupt China’s military deployment in the East China Sea.

After their frustrations in the South China Sea, the US and Japan turned to challenge China’s security in the East China Sea and derail China’s efforts. To strengthen their capabilities of hunting Chinese submarines in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, both US and Indian navies operate the P-8 Poseidon long-range maritime patrol aircraft, highlighting the focus on anti-submarine warfare.

Japan, which has participated in the exercise five times, also attached great importance to the Malabar 2016. It used the exercise to enhance the anti-submarine capability of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force and spy on China’s military deployment in the waters.

However, the anti-submarine warfare of the US, Japan and India won’t make them succeed in countering China as China has significantly improved its technologies in ballistic missile submarine and attack submarine. And with the development of multi-dimensional operations, merely elevating anti-submarine capability won’t enable these countries to contain China.

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The Malabar exercise has always been led by the US, with Japan and India being just partners with varied purposes. This will cripple the actual effects of the exercise. In fact, this kind of exercise is unlikely to impair China’s presence in the East China Sea, except for flaring up tensions in the waters and producing frictions.




Source:- Global times

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