The Trump administration has recently declassified a document which claims that a strong India, in cooperation with like-minded countries, would act as a ‘counterbalance’ to China in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
Running into 10 pages, the document was recently declassified by US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and now has been posted on the website of the White House.
India, it said, remains pre-eminent in South Asia and takes the leading role in maintaining Indian Ocean security, increases engagement with Southeast Asia, and expands its economic, defence and diplomatic cooperation with other US allies and partners in the region.
The policy framework said its objective is to accelerate India’s rise and capacity to serve as a net provider of security and major defence partner, solidify an enduring strategic partnership with India underpinned by a strong Indian military able to effectively collaborate with the US and its partners in the region to address shared interests.
The document said its objective is to prevent China’s industrial policies and unfair trading practices from distorting global markets and harming US competitiveness. Actions recommended by it are to counter Chinese predatory economic practices that freeze out foreign competition, undermine US economic competitiveness, and abet the Chinese Communist Party’s aspiration to dominate the 21st century economy.
Another objective of the framework is to strengthen the capacity of emerging partners in South Asia, including the Maldives, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, to contribute to a free and open order.
It supports creation of a maritime information “fusion centre” in the Indian Ocean; establish a regional forum to promote common principles and standards and establish and gain broad consensus on a statement of principles on acceptable maritime behaviour, to include a commitment to regional cooperation in line with shared security objectives.
Just as envisaged in the document, the Indo-US ties have reached unprecedented levels. India has signed three out of four foundational defence agreements including the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), the General Security of Military Information Agreement, and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
Both India and US are also planning for formalization of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, a group of four democracies namely India, Australia, Japan and the USA.