US should not de­ter­mine In­dia’s sta­tus in Asia

Global Times - - Editorial - Page Ed­i­tor: sunx­i­aobo@glob­al­

US De­fense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis em­barked on his New Delhi visit Tues­day, be­com­ing the first cab­i­netlevel of­fi­cial to go to In­dia from US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. Some In­dian me­dia out­lets re­gard Mat­tis’ trip as ev­i­dence of Wash­ing­ton’s strate­gic at­ten­tion to New Delhi. In­dia’s In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Times pub­lished an ar­ti­cle with the head­line “In­dia-US ties slated for up­grade as Jim Mat­tis comes visit­ing: Bad news for Pak­istan, China?”

In­deed, Wash­ing­ton is at­tempt­ing to tie New Delhi to its char­iot, but US in­ten­tion can­not bring about In­dia’s rise or act as a vi­able bar­gain­ing chip for In­dia in han­dling its re­la­tions with China. In­dia will have to rely on it­self rather than a few weapons the US sells to it, for its am­bi­tions.

Mat­tis aims to en­cour­age In­dia to play a larger role in the Afghanistan is­sue and mean­while sell weapons to In­dia. The devel­op­ment of the USIn­dia re­la­tion­ship is sub­tly con­nected to the devel­op­ment of the China-US and China-In­dia re­la­tion­ship. But com­pared to New Delhi, Beijing is more de­ter­mined and ca­pa­ble not to be ma­nip­u­lated when han­dling its re­la­tions with the two other coun­tries. While Beijing has not con­sid­ered In­dia a fac­tor in han­dling its ties with Wash­ing­ton, the Wash­ing­ton-New Delhi re­la­tion­ship has taken the need to con­tain China into ac­count.

For Wash­ing­ton, the idea of China en­cir­cling In­dia is a use­ful strat­egy to draw New Delhi to its side and an ad­ver­tise­ment for Amer­i­can weapons. If In­dia ex­erts it­self ad­dress­ing an al­leged China threat, it will grad­u­ally evolve into a chess piece for the US and a source of fund­ing for “Amer­ica First.” This is not sup­posed to be the ma­jor power sta­tus that New Delhi is pur­su­ing.

A $2 bil­lion sale of Sea Guardian Un­manned Aerial Sys­tem drones that can be used for sur­veil­lance is re­port­edly the top pri­or­ity of Mat­tis’ visit. In­dia’s NDTV said that it would be “the first sale of an ex­tremely sen­si­tive US sys­tem un­der In­dia’s ma­jor de­fense part­ner sta­tus.” Ac­cord­ing to the US, mar­itime se­cu­rity is a com­mon in­ter­est due to Chi­nese ag­gres­sion with sub­marines in the In­dian Ocean. The sale of the up­dated F-16 fighter jets worth up to $15 bil­lion also tops the agenda on Mat­tis’ trip. If New Delhi is in­cited to help Wash­ing­ton “bal­ance” Beijing with these weapons, it will have a wor­ry­ing fi­nan­cial con­di­tion and fu­ture.

The lack of self-con­fi­dence is im­ped­ing In­dia from shar­ing the devel­op­ment div­i­dends of China’s Belt and Road ini­tia­tive and de­priv­ing the coun­try of the op­por­tu­nity for devel­op­ment.

New Delhi’s sta­tus in Asia should not be de­ter­mined by Wash­ing­ton’s China strat­egy. The peace­ful so­lu­tion to the Dok­lam stand­off sug­gests that China and In­dia have the ca­pa­bil­ity to elim­i­nate ex­te­rior in­ter­ven­tions and diplo­mat­i­cally han­dle crises.

In­dia would be more ma­ture and con­fi­dent if it could view high-level ex­changes with the US with­out re­gard for any per­ceived need to con­tain China.

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