India, US to firm up Indo-Pacific strategy to counter China

India, US to firm up Indo-Pacific strategy to counter China

India and the United States of America will give shape to a new joint strategy to counter China in Indo-Pacific, when Rex Tillerson, American Secretary of State, will visit New Delhi next week.
Tillerson will meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on October 24.

Apart from bilateral cooperation in Afghanistan, Tillerson’s meeting with Swaraj is likely to focus on greater India-US cooperation in Indo-Pacific to counter-hegemonic aspirations of China in the region, sources in New Delhi told the DH.

The India-US synergy in Indo-Pacific is likely to be more visible in the coming months, particularly in international forums, beginning with the East Asia Summit in Manilla from November 13 to 14.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and American President Donald Trump are likely to attend the summit.

Tillerson set the stage for the new India-US joint strategy for Indo-Pacific when he called for “a strong partnership” between the two nations in the region while delivering a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC on Wednesday.

“India and the US must foster greater prosperity and security with the aim of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said the US Secretary of State.

He noted that the Indo-Pacific — including the entire Indian Ocean, the Western Pacific, and the nations that surround them — would be the most consequential part of the globe in the 21st century.
“The world’s centre of gravity is shifting to the heart of the Indo-Pacific. The US and India — with our shared goals of peace, security, freedom of navigation, and a free and open architecture — must serve as the eastern and western beacons of the Indo-Pacific,” he added.

His speech titled ‘Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century’ and responses to the questions from the audiences were put up on the website of the US State Department.

Sources told the DH in New Delhi that the US President would also call for a free and open Indo-Pacific during his tour to Asia, beginning early November.

Taking a dig at China, Tillerson on Thursday said the US needed to collaborate with India to ensure that the Indo-Pacific remained a place of peace, stability, and growing prosperity and did not become “a region of disorder, conflict, and predatory economics”.
“China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the international, rules-based order even as countries like India operate within a framework that protects other nations’ sovereignty,” said Tillerson.

He said China’s provocative actions in the South China Sea directly challenged the international law and norms that the US and India both stood for.

“The US seeks constructive relations with China, but we will not shrink from China’s challenges to the rules-based order and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighbouring countries and disadvantages the US and our friends.”

Trump will also visit China during his tour to Asia from November 3 to 4. He will also visit Japan, South Korea, Phillippines and Vietnam.

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