After India and Japan inked a key military logistic pact, another similar agreement with France and Australia appears to be in the pipeline. Such intercontinental military pacts have one common purpose – to challenge the rising threat of China.
Although neither of the treaties explicitly mentions a particular country, the leaders have spoken about the growing challenges in the Asia Pacific and the growing assertiveness of China.
After years of negotiations between India and Japan, they have finally inked a landmark agreement that will allow the two countries to use each other’s maritime bases and facilities for repair and replenishment of supplies besides facilitating scaling up of overall cooperation.
In the backdrop of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) increasing aggression in Ladakh and Japan’s Senkaku Islands, the acquisition and cross-servicing pact was signed by Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and Japanese Ambassador Suzuki Satoshi, an Indian defence ministry spokesperson said.
Japan has constantly lent its support to India and has criticized “any unilateral” move by China to change the status quo in Ladakh.
“It is expected that the agreement will facilitate the smooth and prompt provision of supplies and services between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces,” a statement by Japanese foreign ministry stated.
It is important to note that similar agreements have been signed with the Quad nations, Australia and the US. After Japan, a France-Australia-India accord might join the list too.
French President Emmanuel Macron has earlier spoken about building a strategic alliance against Chinese assertiveness between Canberra, Paris and New Delhi.
“We’re not naive: if we want to be seen and respected by China as an equal partner, we must organize ourselves,” Macron said in a speech at an Australian naval base. This new Paris-Delhi-Canberra axis is absolutely key for the region and our joint objectives in the Indian-Pacific region,” he said, according to a 2018 Reuters report.
This Paris-Delhi-Canberra received a jumpstart on Wednesday when the top foreign ministry officials of the three countries discussed this pact which was first proposed by Macron two years ago.
HT reported that the officials spoke about enhancing maritime security cooperation” including maritime domain awareness, mutual logistics support and capacity building of other friendly countries in the Indo-Pacific region, people familiar with the matter said.
According to the report, Chinese aggressive actions in eastern Ladakh and the militarization of the South China Sea have impelled these efforts. India, Australia and Indonesia are also set to hold virtual meetings of their foreign and defence ministers to bolster regional cooperation and maritime security in the Indo-Pacific in the coming weeks.
Derek Grossman of RAND corporation, US-based global policy think tank, wrote in a paper titled ‘The Quad is poised to become openly Anti-China soon’ that even the most ardent supporters of maintaining balanced China ties are hardening their positions, which makes it increasingly likely New Delhi will turn to the Quad to counter China.
“For the first time in the Quad’s history, the stars are aligning for a harder line on China, and the implications going forward could be significant.”