The US, Japanese, and Indian navies are meeting for exercises near Guam for the first time, and China is keeping a close eye on them


US Navy USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier Pacific Ocean Philippine Sea patrol

US, Indian, and Japanese ships are in Guam for Exercise Malabar 2018.
This is the 22nd iteration of the Malabar exercise, which has been focused on maritime operations and security.
Recent versions of the exercise have taken place amid growing tensions between China and its neighbors.

US, Japanese, and Indian warships converged on Guam last week for the 22nd iteration of Exercise Malabar, an annual exercise focused on developing coordination and training to counter maritime threats.

This year’s version of the exercise, which is the first to take place around Guam, runs from June 7 to June 16, but as the ships involved gathered beforehand, the Chinese navy was keeping an eye on the proceedings.

Indian ships sailing to Guam were shadowed by Chinese warships in the South China Sea, breaking off only when the Indian ships entered the Philippine Sea.

“We had good, polite conversation. They were there for some time, and then broke off,” Rear Adm. Dinesh K. Tripathi, commander of India’s Eastern Fleet and head of India’s delegation to Malabar 2018, told The Economic Times. “The moment we entered the Pacific across the Philippines Sea, they went back. It was interesting.”

Surveillance by Chinese ships, which Tripathi said was “not surprising,” comes a few weeks after Indian warships spotted a Chinese ship “tailing them at a safe distance” as they left Vietnam, following the first joint exercise between those two countries.

“We knew we were being tailed, but we were on international waters or global commons, and therefore took evasive measures,” sources told India Today of the incident.

That exercise, which ran from May 21 to May 25, attracted Chinese ire, with a Global Times op-ed calling it “a futile attempt to flex muscle.”

‘Distance actually does not matter’

Malabar started in 1992 as a US-India bilateral exercise. It has been done annually since then — with the exception of 1998 through 2002, after India’s 1998 nuclear tests — expanding to a trilateral exercise with Japan’s addition in 2015.

Other countries have participated in the past, though Indian has declined Australia’s request to take part for the past two years. (Observers suspect Chinese pressure is behind Canberra’s exclusion.)

Malabar 2018 consists of on-shore and at-sea portions. The former ran from June 7 to June 10, involving expert and professional exchanges on carrier strike group, maritime patrol, and reconnaissance operations as well as on surface and anti-submarine warfare. The latter portion lasts from June 11 to June 16 in the Philippine Sea, and will include military-to-military coordination, air-defense and surface-warfare exercises, and replenishment while underway.

The US Navy has sent the USS Ronald Reagan, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold, and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft.

India’s participants include stealth frigate INS Sahyadri and the first-in-class antisubmarine-warfare corvette INS Kamorta, which was trailed by a Chinese ship while leaving Vietnam last month. India’s fleet tanker INS Shakti and a P-8I …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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