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China hopes Malabar naval drills will be conducive to peace, not contrary

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BEIJING (PTI): China on Tuesday hoped that the quadrilateral Malabar exercises involving navies of India, the US, Japan and Australia would be conducive to the regional peace and stability instead of the contrary.

The first phase of the Malabar exercises began in the Bay of Bengal off Visakhapatnam coast on Tuesday and would end on November 6.

The second phase of the mega exercise is scheduled to be held from November 17 to 20 in the Arabian sea.

Asked about the commencement of the exercises, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, during a media briefing in Beijing said, "We hope that relevant countries' military operations will be conducive to peace and stability in the region instead of the contrary."

Last month, India announced that Australia would be part of the Malabar exercise which effectively makes it a drill by all four member nations of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition.

China has been suspicious about the purpose of the Malabar exercise as it feels that the annual wargame is an effort to contain Beijing’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Malabar exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the Indian Navy and the US Navy in the Indian Ocean. Japan became a permanent participant in the exercise in 2015.

The annual exercise was conducted off the coast of Guam in the Philippine Sea in 2018 and off the coast of Japan in 2019.

For the last few years, Australia has been showing keen interest in joining the exercise.

The evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific in the wake of China's increasing military muscle-flexing has become a major talking point among leading global powers.

The US has been favouring making Quad a security architecture to check China's growing assertiveness in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.

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