India, Japan and the US are bound by "shared values and interests" and their trilateral 'Malabar' naval exercise improves the capability of the navies to face "21st century challenges", a top American lawmaker has said. The five-day exercise in the Bay of Bengal from July 10 this year featured 95 aircraft, 16 ships and two submarines. The 21st edition of the exercise was held at a time when China has become more assertive and the forays by their submarines in the Indian Ocean have increased. China has stepped up its activities in the Indian Ocean in recent years and is building ports in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. According to Pentagon, the Malabar exercise has grown in scope and complexity over the years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Asia Pacific. Congressman Joaquin Castro, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the co-chair of the US-Japan Caucus, said the annual naval exercise "brings together our nations' navies to improve interoperability and capability as new 21st century challenges emerge." You may also like to watch this: Castro said the partnership between the US, India, and Japan contributes greatly to regional security and prosperity. "The three countries are bound together by shared values and interests and are committed to the principles of democracy and a rules-based global order," he said.