Is US economic policy bringing regional foes India and China closer? Will India and China forgo their “soft conflict” and challenge the US hegemony and unilateralism? While both countries share more common interests than differences, experts in Beijing believe that both nations should consider collaborating, in the face of US pressure.
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The two-plus-two dialogue between the US and India is scheduled for September 6 in New Delhi. Talking at an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on the forthcoming meeting in late August, Randall G. Schriver, US assistant secretary of defence for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said “how to respond to it will be front and center” of the dialogue.
India Vital for Washington
Despite the two-plus-two dialogue being delayed unilaterally twice by the US stating “unavoidable reasons,” the world has witnessed positive development in the US-India strategic partnership.
Washington declared New Delhi a “major defence partner” in May, which puts India on par with the closest associates and partners of the US. The same month the Pentagon renamed the Pacific Command the Indo-Pacific Command, indicating the growing importance of India to the US.
In stepping up its alliance with India, Washington clearly has China in mind. The Russia factor also plays a role in the US strengthening ties with India. Close India-Russia military cooperation, especially Indian buying arms from Russia, are not desired by the US.
Due to its geopolitical position and status as an emerging country, India is considered as the best choice for the US by many of its strategists to equalise China. By envisioning a greater role for India in its Indo-Pacific strategy, Washington hopes India will be a central component of the strategic structure it is trying to establish in the Asia Pacific region. But it’s not the best choice for India to become such a strategic follower of the US.
India is fully aware of this. New Delhi is unlikely to take sides between China and the US. This neutrality is of course determined by its own political, economic and security interests.
Bilateral relations between China and India are plagued by scepticism from time to time. Since the informal meeting in Wuhan in April between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, China-India relations have been developing in a positive direction. They should ponder how to better cooperate, especially in the face of pressure from Washington.
The two-plus-two dialogue is expected to deepen India’s strategic partnership with the US. Beijing and New Delhi should enhance coordination so as to develop more balanced relations with Washington. Coordinated Sino-Indian ties are crucial to the stability of Asia, concludes the Chinese experts.