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India as Counterbalance to China: USA

  • 15 Jan 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Trump administration declassified a document which asserted that a strong India, in cooperation with like-minded countries, would act as a counterbalance to China in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.

  • The document on the USA strategic framework for the Indo-Pacific from 2018 outlines objectives, challenges and strategies with regard to China, North Korea, India and other countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Key Points

  • Challenges for USA:
    • Maintaining USA's strategic primacy in the Indo-pacific and stopping China from establishing illiberal spheres of influence.
    • Ensuring that North Korea does not threaten the USA.
    • Advancing the USA economic leadership globally while pushing fair and reciprocal trade.
  • Aspects Related to India:
    • India is a preferred partner on security issues and to cooperate to preserve maritime security and counter Chinese influence in South Asia and Southeast Asia. To achieve this, USA aims to:
  • India vis-a-vis China:
    • Help India addressing disputes with China: USA aims to support India via military, diplomatic and intelligence channels to help address continental challenges such as the border dispute with China and resolution of disputes over rivers, including the Brahmaputra and other rivers facing diversion by China.
    • Supporting India's reservations against Belt Road Initiative: USA seeks the transparent infrastructure-debt practices in the countries facing debt due to Chinese financing under Belt Road Initiative.
    • Working with India and Japan: To help finance projects that enhance regional connectivity between India and countries of the region.
  • India-USA Relations:
    • Shared democratic values and increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and global issues.
    • Broad-based and multi-sectoral relationship covering trade and investment, defence and security, education, science and technology and cyber security etc.
    • People to people connection: Vibrant people-to-people interaction and support across the political spectrum in both countries nurture bilateral relationships between the two countries.
    • USA has signed defence agreements with India to provide military information and mutual logistics support. These are:
      • The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).
      • The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
      • The Communication Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA).
      • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA): It was the result of the Indo-United States (US) 2+2 talks.
  • Recent USA-China Rivalries:
    • Competition for dominating world finances: To counter the USA-dominated International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization, China has come out with alternative financial institutions like Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, and New Development Bank.
    • Contending influence over international groupings: In order to contain rising China’s assertiveness, the USA under its ‘pivot to Asia policy’ has launched a Quad initiative, Indo pacific narrative. Most recently, the USA proposed to expand G7 to G-11 without including China in it.
    • New Cold War: USA-China confrontation is on multiple fronts including ideological and cultural hegemonic rivalry, trade wars which has often been called the New Cold War.

Way Forward

  • Maintain interest oriented balancing: India should realise its rising global power and rather than getting enmeshed in USA-China rivalry, it should prioritize its own interests and growth by maintaining peaceful mutual relationships.
  • Promote Multilateralism: India can promote new multilateralism under the aegis of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam- which relies on restructuring both the economic order and societal behaviour for equitable sustainable development.

Source: TH

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