China voices peace hopes on Indian-US pact
China hopes that cooperation between India and the United States will help to maintain regional peace and stability, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday when commenting on a key military logistics agreement.
The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement was signed between India and the US on Monday after 12 years of discussions.
Hua said at a regular news conference that China had noticed reports about the agreement and hoped that this meant that cooperation between India and the US would be normal.
The core of the agreement provides for the two countries’ naval ships and aircraft to dock and land at each other’s facilities to take on supplies such as fuel.
Indian and US naval ships and aircraft have often used each other’s naval and air bases before, but this has involved a complex process in which clearance had to be obtained for each individual case.
The Hindustan Times said the agreement will “make it easier for the Indian Navy to use the US base system for its own operations”, while the same is true for US ships.
Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday that this is not an agreementto set up bases, but to facilitate logistical support between the two militaries.
Forbes magazine said in an article that for the US, this is just part of President Barack Obama’s much larger “pivot” to Asia aimed at meeting the challenge posed by a rising China. “The US Navy plans to deploy 60 percent of its surface ships in the Indo-Pacific (region) in the near future,” the article said.
Instead of having to build facilities virtually from the ground up, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US has the benefit of simple arrangements covering “tremendous Indian facilities,” the article added.
Agence France-Presse reported that the agreement has been signed “in an effort to strengthen defense ties to counter concerns over China’s growing military assertiveness”.
After the agreement was signed, visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry began talks with India’s top leaders on Tuesday.
Kerry was due to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders in New Delhi to discuss ambitious plans to increase trade between their two countries fivefold to about $500 billion.
Guo Yanjun, deputy director of the Institute of Asian Studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said China does not need to overreact to the US-India logistics agreement.
“Prime Minister Modi has maintained frequent communications with President Xi Jinping, and to show its balance between China and the US, India needs to have some close cooperation with the US, which is totally understandable,” he said.
Jin Yong, deputy head of the School of Foreign Studies at Communication University of China, said a lack of political trust remains the biggest problem for the Sino-Indian relationship.
“Because of geographical and historical issues, India considers the rise of China as a threat rather than an opportunity, and this ‘trust deficit’ has affected exchanges between the two countries.” Zhang Yaozhong contributed to the story.