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Chinese influence seen as tension rises in Indo-Pacific grouping

India may block Australia in Malabar naval exercise; it is being seen as snag in their relationship

IANS  |  Sydney 

Chinese influence seen as tension rises in Indo-Pacific grouping

The third Japan-Australia-trilateral dialogue among senior representatives from the three countries has concluded in Canberra even as foreign affairs' commentators continue to express doubts over the revival of a wider quadrilateral grouping also involving the US.

The meeting was attended by, besides Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, Shinsuke Sugiyama, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, and Frances Adamson, Foreign Affairs Secretary of

The participants were scheduled to exchange views on a wide range of issues, including regional affairs in the Indo-Pacific and Japan-Australia-trilateral cooperation.

It is yet to be clarified whether has shown any inclination to get over its reported reluctance to permit to observe this year's iteration of the annual that the conducts with and the United States.The naval exercise is scheduled to be conducted in the Indian Ocean in July.

The reports that is all set to "block" from the drill is being interpreted by some Australian foreign affairs and regional security analysts as a snag in the bilateral relationship.

"Reports that the Indian government intends to block Australia's participation in this year's Malabar naval exercises are a setback for Canberra. However, better indicators of the health of the Australia-bilateral relationship may be found elsewhere," writes Ian Hall of the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

The Indian reluctance has confirmed a widely-held belief that continues to influence the formation of various strategic alliances in the region.

New Delhi also has other reasons for dragging its feet as cannot afford to antagonise its largest trading partner A former diplomat has gone a step further and has asserted that the antipodeans are living in a "Chinese world".

"One part is what the Australian public and politicians see, and perhaps understand," Stephen FitzGerald, Australia's first Ambassador to explained. "This is as state: Great Power, paramount power in Asia, asserting a sphere of influence in immediate neighbouring countries and seas, challenger to the US, economic giant, largest trading partner of Australia, New Zealand, ASEAN, Japan, Korea, and significant investor in all our economies," the former Ambassador said while delivering the 2017 Whitlam Oration in Sydney earlier this year.

The former Ambassador's oration was aptly titled "Managing Australian Foreign Policy in a Chinese World".

It's become increasingly hard for to formulate a policy for There are serious questions around how balances its alliance commitments against its economic dependence on

In light of the trading relations with dominating her foreign policy to a great extent, it becomes harder for New Delhi to trust in its commitment to the quadrilateral alliance. The fact that there has been a precedent of bowing to the Chinese diktat and withdrawing from the Quadrilateral Alliance (in 2007) makes one understand why has blocked from

Australian naval forces participated in in 2007. A strong diplomatic demarche from Beijing about the deepening Australia-India-Japan-US military ties had altered the alliance popularly known as the "Quad". Japanese Prime Minister had initiated the (QSD) in 2006-07 during his first term.

Australia, which was led by a Chinese-speaking Labour Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, backtracked from and also withdrew from the parallel quadrilateral strategic dialogue initiative soon after.

The efforts to revive the quadrilateral alliance have been initiated at a time when is flexing its military muscle in the South Sea.

The Indian reluctance to allow to participate in is also being linked by some commentators to recent changes in Australian immigration laws. The move to scrap the so-called 457 visa (also known as work permits) programme is likely to affect skilled Indian workforce the most.

First Published: Tue, May 02 2017. 16:25 IST