Washington: Terming some of the steps being taken by Beijing along the India-China border as “provocative” and “deeply concerning”, a top White House official reiterated that the United States is destined to work more closely with New Delhi.
Kurt Campbell, the Deputy Assistant to the US President and Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, told a Washington-based think-tank that India is not an ally of the United States and will never be so but it does not mean that we will not be close partners and share many things. “That's how we need to understand the role that India will play as a great nation on the global stage. We want to encourage that and support that and deepen this relationship, which is already very strong, probably the strongest people-to-people relationship of any country that the United States has on the global stage," he said.
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According to a report by the think tank, Centre for a New American Security, border intrusions and conflicts between China and India have become more frequent and threaten to lead to all-out conflict. It further said that the increased tension between China and India is affecting the United States and its Indo-Pacific strategy between the two Asian giants.
The report said that Indian officials think China is attempting to contain India by making it spend more resources simultaneously defending its western border with Pakistan and its eastern flank with China, as well as by reducing India's willingness and ability to challenge Chinese ambitions to dominate the region.
Steps taken by China provocative
Campbell told the think-tank, "Some of the steps that China has taken along this vast 5,000-mile border had been provocative and deeply concerning to Indian partners and friends."
The White House Official further said that the India-US relationship "is the most important bilateral relationship for the United States in the 21st century". "I believe we are destined to work more closely together. I believe that our people-to-people ties are strong, animate in a relationship that is becoming deeper, richer and more strategically important."
"We are working more on defence-related issues on people to people. We want more Indian students in our universities. We want more American students in Indian universities. We want more people-to-people, university partnerships more generally, and health partnerships. We have just announced efforts to work together in space. So the agenda is extraordinarily rich. The ambitions are high," he added.
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Think tank's report recommendations to respond to Chinese aggression
The paper from the research group, written by Lisa Curtis and Derek Grossman, also includes a number of suggestions for how to prevent and deal with future Chinese aggression along India border.
Among the several recommendations, prominent among them is that the US should elevate Indian territorial disputes with China on par with Beijing's assertiveness against other US allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific and ensure this is reflected in all national security-related documents and speeches.
Additionally, it was suggested that the US provide India with the cutting-edge military technology it needs to protect its boundaries, start the coproduction and co-development of military equipment and help India build up its maritime and naval capabilities.
The think tank also urged the US to conduct joint intelligence reviews with India to align assessments of Chinese plans and intentions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and enhance coordination with Indian officials on contingency planning in the event of a future India-China conflict.
It asked the US to criticise Beijing's "efforts at land-grabbing" in multilateral forums, including the UN, Shangri-La Dialogue, G20, and East Asia Summit and be prepared to extend full support to India in the event of another border crisis or conflict.
Message Pakistan and enlist help from its other important partners to convey similar points about the need to stay neutral in the event of a potential future India-China border flare-up, the report said.
(With PTI inputs)