For India, the announcement of Australia’s participation in the annual Malabar naval exercises of 2020 is a deliberate horizontal escalation of the continental border crisis whose present centre of gravity is Ladakh. The Malabar exercises began as an Indo-US bilateral exercise in 1992. In 2015, Japan joined in and India has now overcome its reticence about annoying China and opened the door for Australia. The connection with China’s rise and its strategic misbehaviour is obvious and is part of a larger global countervailing move for stability and balance. For India, the burning question is, what difference can this make to China’s threats on its continental borders.