The Quad is "not a military alliance" for India, but a multilateral cooperation effort for humanitarian assistance and an anti-smuggling exercise, said Vice-Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) of the Eastern Naval Command, at the Shangri-La Diaglogue in Singapore on Saturday.

The Quad, a strategic security grouping of Australia, India, Japan, and the US, has evolved to check China’s growing assertion of its maritime interest in the Indo-Pacific region.

"We are for Quad and there is support at the highest level for Quad in India. We have naval exercises with Quad navies and cooperation is growing. It is certainly not a military alliance as far as India and the Indian Navy is concerned. But we have cooperated in many areas, ranging from humanitarian assistance to disaster relief and rescue," he said while speaking to a news channel in Singapore.

Eighteen chiefs of defence from across the globe participated in the Asian summit.

Asked about India’s standing in Quad, Dasgupta remarked “we are involved in exercises with Australia, Japan, and the US bilaterally, and sometimes trilaterally. Whenever such exercises happen, we field our forces and exchange best practices. We see how other navies operate, and try to learn from them as much as they do from us”.

US attacks China’s position on border with India

US Defence Secretary Lloyd James Austin, said China was hardening its position along the border with India, but assured that America would stand by its friends who were defending their territorial rights against Beijing's "war coercive" and "aggressive approach".

“Further to the West, we see Beijing continuing to harden its position along the borders it shares with India,” he said.

Hinting that India would be key to balancing the geopolitical situation, Austin said Delhi's "growing military capability and technological prowess can be a stabilising force in the region.”

The stand-off between China and India has continued since May 2020, with the PLA troops upgrading its infrastructure on the Ladakh border.

During his speech, Austin spoke of the importance of joint exercises in the Indian Ocean last spring.

“We also stand by our friends as they uphold their rights that is especially important as the People's Republic of China adopts the war coercive and aggressive approach to its territorial claims,” insisted US defence secretary.

India, US and some other countries have been harping on the need for a free, open and rule-based Indo-Pacific, to counter China’s dominance in the resource-rich region.