China’s LAC actions have strengthened U.S. resolve to build partnership with India: top U.S. official

Lisa Curtis.  

China’s recent actions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) have caused the U.S. to develop its partnership with India to counter Chinese aggression, a top Trump administration National Security Council (NSC) official said.

China’s recent actions on the LAC have “further reinforced the importance of the U.S.-India strategic partnership and it has strengthened the U.S. resolve to work towards building that relationship as a bulwark against Chinese aggression,” NSC Director for South and Central Lisa Curtis said.

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The U.S. had provided India with “strong and unambiguous support” throughout the crisis and the two countries’ cooperation had “certainly” grown closer, according to Ms. Curtis. Her comments were made during a webinar organised by the Carnegie Endowment, a think tank.

Ms. Curtis said India and the U.S. should focus on the issues where there are converging interests, and operationalise their cooperation around those specific issues, and accept that there will be policy differences between them on other issues.

Role in Indo-Pacific

Responding to a question on burden sharing in the Indo-Pacific and whether India would be comfortable making contributions to aid U.S. objectives, Ms. Curtis said, “When it comes to the South Asia region, we have seen India reluctant, I think, for the U.S. to become more involved, but I think you will see that changing because of the situation that we are finding ourselves in.” She referred to China becoming more involved in the political dynamics of South Asian countries.

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Last week, India had welcomed the decision of the Maldives to sign a military agreement with the U.S.

Ms. Curtis said countries would have to become more comfortable with cooperating and burden sharing towards similar goals.

“We are starting to see more openness from India in particular in discussing these issues,” she said. India had started helping countries — such as the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — with their economic issues, as per the White House adviser.

Ms. Curtis said cooperation and burden sharing was becoming inevitable not only in the military and maritime areas but also in terms of the economies, countering the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and so forth.

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On maritime groupings, Ms. Curtis said India had not taken as much of a lead as the U.S. had hoped, although India has capacity as evidenced by “a lot of naval activity being displayed” in the recent border crisis with China.

On the same question, former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, also part of the panel, said that the situation with China had brought India to a point where it would start doing things with and for the U.S. without a formal alliance.

“For me, I think the time has come … I think many more people would accept that idea that we would start doing things with the U.S., for the U.S., that actually U.S. allies would do — without an alliance. An alliance is a different problem that has a whole host of domestic, political connotations,” Mr. Menon said.

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“But I think the actual practice of interoperability, of taking on particular roles and of fitting into a larger common strategy — I don’t see that being problematic today,” he said. “I think we should thank the Chinese for that.”

The panel, moderated by former U.S. government adviser Ashley Tellis, included researcher Darshana Barua, around whose work the discussion was focused, and former U.S. Defense Department official Amy Searight.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 7:09:59 PM |

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