Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A Chinese view of India-US military agreement

An interesting semi-official Chinese view on India-US military agreement.

Is India heading toward alliance with US?

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30 August, 2016

The US and India are expected to sign a logistics agreement which allows both sides access to each other's military facilities for refueling and replenishment. Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar has departed on a visit to the US and will sign this historic pact with his US counterpart Ashton Carter.

This is undoubtedly a leap forward in US-India military cooperation. US media highly applauded this deal, with Forbes hailing it as a "war pact" and believing that India is shifting away from Russia, its Cold War ally, toward a new alliance with the US.

The Indian side has adopted a prudent attitude. Some defense analysts expressed worries that India may lose strategic independence and warned that the pact may render New Delhi a "follower" of Washington.

India has practiced the principles of non-alignment since independence, which have been advocated by Indian elites. However, in recent years, Washington has deliberately wooed New Delhi to become its quasi ally so as to impose geopolitical pressure on China.

It is possible that the Modi administration is trying an unconventional way to lean toward the US with the logistics agreement.

But how close the US-India relationship can be and what geopolitical values it can get remains a question.

India holds dear its independence and sovereignty after squeezing out of the UK's colonialism. It views itself as a major power and is developing on the wave of the emerging countries. It attaches high importance to national security. It feels it is an urgent task because its defense levels are a necessary condition of being a major power, rather than out of a sense of crisis that requires an intimacy to the US.

If India hastily joins the US alliance system, it may irritate China, Pakistan or even Russia. It may not make India feel safer, but will bring strategic troubles to itself and make itself a center of geopolitical rivalries in Asia.

Due to its non-alignment policy, India has been given attention from all the major powers such as the US, Japan, China and Russia in recent years.

Now is arguably a time when India has the most room for strategic maneuvering. During Shinzo Abe's first tenure as Japan's prime minister, Japan hyped the concept of a quadrilateral alliance between the US, Japan, Australia and India; however, New Delhi remained cool to the idea.

Therefore, India will not lean toward the US, because it will not only hurt India's self-esteem, more importantly, India can gain more strategic benefits by striking a balance between China and the US.

Since China does not resort to regional expansion, the US' maneuvers in Asia will prove futile. The primary field of competition for China and the US is the economy. As long as China can keep its fast growth, the US' strategic deployment will go nowhere. 

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