Tensions in the East are not only high on the Korean Peninsula, as India and China continue a staring contest that has manifested itself most recently as a border dispute in the Doklam area between their two nations. U.S. military activity in the South China Sea recently could also be seen as a direct affront to Chinese claims of sovereignty over the majority of the waterway, which means China is currently involved in not one, but three separate and potentially dangerous, arguably deteriorating, situations in the region.
Public statements issued by American President Donald Trump have demonstrated not only a seeming willingness to work with Chinese President Xi Jinping on reducing the threat presented by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, but even a level of disappointment that China hasn’t been willing to do more in aiding the effort to avoid military conflict. China, for their part, has continued to call on North Korea’s denuclearization, while refusing to utilize its considerable economic and diplomatic leverage to bring about any real change. Another important facet of their strategy would seem to be undermining the U.S. strategy of military deterrence, as they continue to publicly chastise the United States and its allies for conducting military exercises in the region.
With all of this in mind, it stands to reason that China will be paying particularly close attention to the large-scale military exercises currently being conducted in the Pacific – exercises that see participation from the United States, Japan, and India.
“Malabar 2017” is the largest maritime military exercise held in the region since the United States and India launched their first joint Malabar exercise in 1992, and includes both ashore and at-sea training for military units from each nation. The U.S. Nimitz class super carrier’s namesake, the USS Nimitz, was joined on Monday by India’s lone carrier, the Vikramaditya, and Japan’s biggest warship, the helicopter carrier Izumo. These three massive vessels, along with accompanying battle groups and escort ships, are tasked with improving their ability to cooperate in a combat situation.