Australia joins 'quad' drill with US, Japan, India
Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds late Monday said the exercise was about "demonstrating our collective resolve to support an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific" -- a well-used allusion to countering China's authoritarian power.
Over the last few decades, China has tried to significantly increase influence in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, prompting acute concern in New Delhi.
India and China have poured tens of thousands of troops into a remote border zone since fighting a pitched battle in June which killed 20 Indian troops and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers.
The so-called "quad" has been touted as a means of countering Chinese influence -- including an enormous decades-long investment in modernising the People's Liberation Army-Navy.
But the grouping has often faltered amid disagreements about how much to confront, contain or engage Beijing.
A renewed push to develop the "quad" into a formal counterbalance to China has included talks between foreign ministers in Tokyo earlier this month.
At that meeting, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Asian allies to unite against China's "exploitation, corruption and coercion" in the region.