As the annual India-US Malabar naval exercise – which now includes the Japanese navy – started today in the Asia-Pacific region, the Pentagon clarified in Washington that it is not aimed at containing China.
"It has absolutely no relations anything to do with China. If anything it is strengthening the US naval presence in the Pacific Ocean region ... and maritime partnership with our allies," a Pentagon official told reporters.
"It is totally a routine exercise with no relation to China."
The war games in the north-western seas, in the area adjacent to the East China, are being held ignoring Chinese objections.
India has sent three warships - INS Ranvijay, INS Shivalik and support tanker INS Shakti - under the command of Real Admiral Atul Kumar Jain to test skills against the US and Japanese navies.
Among the US ships taking part is its latest aircraft carrier USS George Washington, destroyers USS Shiloh and John S McCain and nuclear submarine USS Columbus.
Japan has fielded its destroyers JS Kurama and JS Ashigara, besides US-2i ShinMaywa amphibious aircraft.
The naval war games will begin with the harbour phase of drills in Sasebo city of Japan and then move to the high seas for the sea-going phase of the drills.
India and the US have held 17 editions of the Malabar-series of war games since 1992 and had involved Japan along with Australia and Singapore in 2007 in the Pacific Ocean, upon which the Chinese government raised objections. The last exercise involving Japan was held in 2009.
The Indian warships taking part in Malabar war games had taken part in a similar exercise with Russia off Vladivostok earlier this month.