The United States and India, the largest democracies in the world, are reportedly exploring ways to work together to tame communist China’s increasingly aggressive economic and military efforts across Asia as soon as possible.
Both countries discussed ways to counter China during “a private, in-depth diplomatic conference this weekend on the future of U.S.-Indian relations,” reports the Washington Times.
Although organizers carried out the second annual U.S.-India forum last weekend under strict off-the-record rules on reporting comments to encourage honest dialogue between the two countries, several officials who attended the event spoke to the Times.
The officials discussed the “China-inspired urgency” for increasing military and economic ties “to counter Beijing’s surging regional influence.”
Specifically, Alice G. Wells, the principal deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia at U.S. President Donald Trump’s Department of State, expressed concerns about China’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR).
Both the United States and India have come out against the multi-trillion dollar project — expected to be a massive network of land and sea links connecting China to more than 60 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America along one route.
According to the latest annual Global Firepower (GFP) index, which ranks the militaries of 133 countries, the United States armed forces remain the most powerful military in the world trailed by Russia, China, and India, respectively.
While the assessment shows that China and Russia together outrank the United States, the index also suggests that the military capabilities the U.S. and India are capable of taking on China and Russia.
Former Indian Vice Adm. Pradeep Chauhan told the Times that India and the United States need to send a clear message to China — “We are on to you.”
“China’s activities create a large amount of impetus for a more focused and more action-oriented India and U.S. navy-to-navy, maritime-to-maritime, country-to-country engagement,” Adm. Chauhan declared.
Nitin Pai, the co-founder of an Indian think tank on international policy, further told the Times there is “no choice. We’ve got to be able to manage China’s increasing influence in the Indian Ocean region, including the military aspect of it.”
Beijing argues that is expanding presence and investment in Asia is of a purely economic and peaceful nature, dismissing accusations that it is trying to achieve military hegemony.
“There are questions about how far New Delhi is willing to go, especially with regard to national security” to counter Beijing’s expansion, acknowledges the Times, adding:
With China well ahead of the U.S. as India’s top foreign trade partner, officials in the [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi government are known to say things like “the balance of power may not be so important as the power of balance” — that India’s long-term interests may be best served by working closely and perhaps even to equivalent degrees with Washington and Beijing.
James Carafano from the Heritage Foundation told the Washington Times that he has “misgivings about India’s ability to think as a global power.”