India is joining its fellow Quad nations — the US, Japan, and Australia — in French-led naval drills this week in the Bay of Bengal, a sign of the growing military cooperation between New Delhi and its Quad partners to challenge China in the region.
The drills, known as the La Perouse exercises, start Monday and will last for three days. The first La Perouse exercises were held in 2019, and this week will be the first time India joins the drills.
The Quad nations participated in the Indian-led Malabar exercises last November, the first time since 2007 that all four countries held military drills together. India had been hesitant in previous years to allow Australia to take part in the Malabar over fears of sending the wrong message to China.
With tensions rising between China and India over the past year, New Delhi is more willing to cooperate with the Quad, an initiative that was revived in 2017. Adding France to the mix sends another signal, although it is not a surprise, as Washington’s European allies seem eager to follow the US in Asia.
Last year, NATO released a report on the alliance’s future titled “NATO 2030,” which called for the North Atlantic alliance to put more focus on China. The report suggests that to counter Beijing, NATO should forge ties with the Quad and consider a future partnership with India.
As part of its strategy to confront China, the Biden administration is putting a lot of focus on the Quad. In March, President Biden participated in the first-ever summit of the leaders of the four Quad countries.