According to comprehensive foreign media reports, the Australian military recently announced in a high-profile manner that it will participate in the “Malabar” joint naval exercises held in November this year with the United States, Japan and India.
The military exercises will take place in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The Australian Ministry of Defense announced that the military exercise will demonstrate “the deep trust among the four major democracies in the Indo-Pacific region” and will also demonstrate the support of the four countries for the “open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”
This is the first time since 2007 that members of the “Quadruple Security Dialogue” mechanism of the United States, Japan, Australia and India have gathered for the “Malabar” joint military exercise.
which has attracted great attention from the outside world. Analysis believes that the military exercise marks a substantial step in military cooperation between the US, Japan, Australia and India, and will bring more instability and uncertainty to the regional security situation.
The four-nation mechanism enters practice
According to Singapore’s “Lianhe Zaobao” report, on the evening of October 19, the Indian and Australian Ministry of Defense announced that they would expand the “Malabar” joint naval exercise in 2020, confirming that Australia will participate in the military exercise. This is Australia’s return to the “Malabar” military exercise after 13 years.
The Indian Ministry of Defense said in a statement that the four countries participating in the military exercises, the United States, Japan, Australia and India, “jointly support a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, and will continue to work for a rules-based international order.”
The “Malabar” military exercise was initiated by the United States and India in 1992. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force was invited to participate in the exercise for the first time in 2007.
Since 2015, Japan has become a permanent member of the “Malabar” military exercise. In recent years, the upgrade trend of “Malabar” military exercises has become more obvious. The military exercises are located in the Philippines, Guam, and the coast of Japan, and will be held in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea this year.
The Indian media quoted the analysis of Indian scholars as saying that in 2020, Australia will be included in the “Malabar” exercise system, which means that the security mechanism of the four countries of the United States, Japan, Australia and India has entered the practical operation stage from the stage of “talking on paper”. The foundation of the “Indo-Pacific Strategy”.
For a period of time, the four countries of the United States, Japan, Australia and India have been interacting frequently, and undercurrents in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific have been surging.
According to Kyodo News, the security dialogue meeting of the four foreign ministers was held in Tokyo on October 6, discussing regional situations including issues in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, emphasizing the promotion of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” with more countries.
According to information published on the website of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, US, Japanese and Australian warships recently held a joint military exercise in the South China Sea. This is the fifth joint operation of the three countries this year in the Seventh Fleet’s “action zone.”
The U.S. replayed its old tune again, calling the move “to promote the freedom of navigation and overflight.”
In addition, the four countries of the United States, Japan, Australia and India have signed a number of bilateral military mutual assistance agreements in recent years, gradually building a defense system with shared military bases and mutual support for logistics, and military cooperation has become increasingly active.
Such as India-US “Logistics Exchange Memorandum Agreement”, “Communication Compatibility and Security Agreement”, “Industrial Security Annex”, India-Australia “Mutual Logistic Support Agreement”, India-Japan “Military Logistics and Service Mutual Assistance Agreement.” It is reported that at the “US-India 2+2 Dialogue” held from 26 to 27 this month, the US and India are expected to sign the “Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation.”
The agreement will allow India to use global geospatial data provided by the United States to improve the accuracy of cruise and ballistic missile strikes.
The inside is not monolithic
“For the so-called’four-party security dialogue’ mechanism, the United States, Japan, Australia and India each have their own strategic demands.” Wang Xiaopeng, a senior researcher at the Haijiang Think Tank of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, analyzed in an interview with reporters. Australia is trying to strengthen military cooperation with India to project its forces to the vicinity of the Indian Ocean, and returning to the “Malabar” military exercise is one of the starting points and focus points for achieving this goal. India is gradually adjusting the past “Eastward Policy” to “Eastward Action Strategy” and has always regarded the “Malabar” military exercise as its home military diplomacy, hoping to mobilize regional powers to improve its strategic position in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. .
According to foreign media reports, Australian Defense Minister Reynolds regarded Australia’s return to the “Malabar” military exercise as a “milestone opportunity for the Australian Defense Force.” The Indian Ministry of Defense recently stated in a high profile that India is seeking to strengthen cooperation with other countries in the field of maritime security.
The United States and Japan also have their own minds. Wang Xiaopeng pointed out that Japan is creating a more offensive defense policy to realize the “going out” of the Self-Defense Force personnel and equipment from the Western Pacific. Japan has continuously strengthened the military strategic interaction between Japan and India, hoping to play a leading role in military exercises and take the opportunity to promote foreign arms sales. As the “behind-the-scenes boss” of the “Malabar” military exercise and the core of the four-nation mechanism, the United States has vigorously promoted all parties to achieve more strategic docking and tactical cooperation, and promoted the four-nation military cooperation to take a substantial step to serve the United States’ global strategy. .
The Associated Press recently quoted the views of analysts and pointed out that each member of the “four-party security dialogue” mechanism has its own political position, and it may be difficult to reach agreement on specific steps for related matters. Agence France-Presse also commented that the so-called “four-party security dialogue” was touted as a means to counter the rise of China, but the group often faltered due to differences.
In Wang Xiaopeng’s view, it is difficult for the United States, Japan, Australia and India to reconcile fundamental interests. The four-nation mechanism has major flaws and is not stable. First, in the face of the impact of the Coronavirus on the global economy, the United States cannot protect itself, let alone economic assistance to its allies. The four-nation mechanism lacks an economic foundation. The United States uses the so-called “free and open Indo-Pacific” as a gimmick to draw pie to its allies, and it is difficult to tie all countries to the American chariot. Second, India is not yet a military ally of the United States. There are two levels in the actual operation of the four-nation mechanism-the United States, Japan, and Australia conduct preliminary communication on relevant issues, and India will follow up later. It is foreseeable that the deeper the four-nation cooperation mechanism, the more passive India will become. Third, the unilateralist tendency of the United States is becoming more and more serious, and its fundamental purpose is to confine the strategic resources of various countries in order to deeply promote the upgrading and adjustment of the US maritime strategy and global strategy.
“All parties want to use the “Indo-Pacific strategy” to fish their own fish. But the four countries have no idea whether they can reach a solid regional military alliance.” Wang Xiaopeng said.
Increase regional security risks
The United States, Japan, Australia and India have frequently increased their military activities in India and the Pacific. The member states of the so-called “four-party security dialogue” mechanism are gradually becoming a major threat to regional security. The spokesperson of the Indian Navy even publicly stated that with Australia’s participation, the “Malabar” military exercise will further form a “frightening defense force.”
In this regard, public opinion has no shortage of worried voices. According to foreign media reports, the security prospects surrounding Australia are increasingly worrying. Many Australians are very anxious about the increasingly inflammatory and belligerent remarks of their politicians.
Wang Xiaopeng pointed out: “Currently, the domestic pandemic situation in the United States and India is not optimistic. The members of the so-called’four-nation security dialogue’ mechanism did not focus on international anti-pandemic cooperation and domestic anti-pandemic work. Instead, they repeatedly clamored for the four-nation military alliance and hyped up India. The concept of’too small NATO’ blindly adheres to the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game thinking. It not only deviates from the theme of the era of peace and development, but also brings more uncertainty and unpredictability to the regional security situation, which may cause regional hot spots. Increasing complexity and expansion, this deserves further vigilance by regional countries and the international community.”
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out that the “Indo-Pacific strategy” proposed by the United States is actually based on the four-nation mechanism of the United States, Japan, India and Australia, in an attempt to build a new “NATO” of the so-called Indo-Pacific version. This strategy promotes the outdated Cold War mentality, promotes group confrontation and geopolitical games, and maintains the dominant position and hegemonic system of the United States. It violates the spirit of mutual benefit and win-win in East Asia cooperation and impacts the ASEAN-centered The framework of regional cooperation undermines the prospects for peace and development in East Asia.