‘Strong Indo-US ties needed to balance China’s rise'
Revitalising the Indo-US relationship is crucial to “managing” the rise of China, agreed ambassadors Nick Burns and Shyam Saran at a Hindustan Times Leadership Summit session on “Catching Up with the Dragon.” HT reports.india Updated: Dec 06, 2013 17:17 IST
Revitalising the Indo-US relationship is crucial to “managing” the rise of China, agreed ambassadors Nick Burns and Shyam Saran at a Hindustan Times Leadership Summit session on “Catching Up with the Dragon.”
Burns, former number three in the US State Department during the Bush administration, said China is “overplaying its hand” in its territorial disputes with Japan, the South China Sea and India. “The US doesn’t recognize what China is doing regarding Arunachal Pradesh and does not support it,” he said.
Washington seeks to work closely with Beijing, said Burns, accepting the “centrality of China in today’s world.” However, “the other side” that has been evident over the past few years is that the US and China are also “strategic competitors.”
Saran, head of the National Security Advisory Board and ex-foreign secretary, noted a similar duality in Sino-Indian relations. India and China had common views and worked together on many global issues. But for all the good rhetoric, he said, “I cannot deny that the essential relationship between India and China is adversarial.”
Burns noted that in the present crisis about the air defence zone instituted over the disputed Senkaku islands, China acted unilaterally, consulting neither the US, Japan, India or any other country. “Democracies like India and the US need to take a strong stand together,” he said.
Both the diplomats agreed that hostilities with China were not “pre-ordained.” The name of the game was to persuade Beijing that it benefited from being a partner in global stability. Saran said, “The US and India agree they must engage with China but also seek to manage its rise. This understanding is an integral part of the Indo-US strategic relationship.”
Burns, with concerns about the US’s willingness to stand up to India in his mind, said the Obama administration “pivot” policy was a US commitment to the region. He pointed to how, in the midst of the present crisis, Washington had declared that the Senkaku islands were covered by its defence treaty with Japan.
Part of sending a strong message to China was a stronger Indo-US relationship, said Burns. Those relations had slowed down in recent years and needed new “energy”.
Saran later said that China’s actions in its territorial disputes was worrying. “These indicate that the Chinese are taking unilateral decisions on issues of sovereignty.” In this context, he said India’s Look East policy should be seen from a broad perspective, merging economic, political and security interests.