India and the US face the same dilemma how to engage a “newly assertive” China in Asia, a former top American diplomat has said as he backed strong Indo-US ties.
“When (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and (US president Barack) Obama meet in the Oval Office, the glue that will bind them together is their mutual concern about a newly assertive China in Asia,” former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said.
Both face the same dilemma, Burns felt adding that they have no choice but to engage China on trade, global economic stability and climate change given Beijing’s vast international weight and influence.
At the same time, Washington and New Delhi understand the necessity of standing up to China’s bullying of Vietnam, the Philippines and other claimants to the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea, Burns wrote on Friday in an op-ed in The Washington Post.
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Observing that Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has been particularly effective in laying the groundwork for a more integrated US military future with India, Burns said on a recent visit to New Delhi, he was struck by a change of attitude among senior Indians who have long debated how much they should strengthen ties to the United States given India’s traditional non-alignment.
Despite differences between the two countries, Burns argued by virtue of their solid democratic foundations, India and the US may be best positioned for global influence far into this century.
He said Modi’s move to transform India to a “true world power” mirrors goal of Obama and his predecessor George Bush that a strong India is in America’s national interest.
“In fact, this ‘foreign policy prime minister’, as many call him, aims to transform India itself from the dominant country in South Asia to a true world power. That goal mirrors Obama and Bush’s calculation that a strong India is in our interest,” he said.
Republican and Democratic leaders should continue to support it, Burns said.
“Our strengthening partnership with India is a striking success. It has been built by the internationalist center in both parties that can still unite them on important foreign policy issues. The next US president will have the opportunity to work with Republicans and Democrats in writing the next chapter with India,” Burns said.