NEW DELHI: Power play on the high seas, with China firmly in the crosshairs, kicks off next week. India, the US and Japan have all deployed their largest warships for the top-notch Malabar exercise to be held in the Bay of Bengal from July 10.
The tri-lateral exercise, with around 15 warships, two submarines and scores of fighter jets, surveillance aircraft and helicopters, comes at a time when Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a tense face-off near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction since mid-June.
The Indian Navy has also recorded an “unusual surge” in the number of Chinese warships and submarines entering the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) over the last two months, in a clear indication of muscle-flexing by China after achieving what it believes is near-dominance in the contentious South China Sea, as earlier reported by TOI.
Incidentally, in the ongoing shadow-boxing between India and China, visiting deputy PM and foreign minister of Vietnam Pham Binh Minh met defence minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday afternoon to discuss ways to further boost bilateral military cooperation, which already includes training of Vietnamese submariners and military supplies. India has slowly but steadily stepped up defence ties with Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore to give China a taste of its own medicine.