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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Trump-Modi meet: China worried over possible US sale of drones to India

If the US allows India to buy the Predator drone, it will enhance India’s capability to monitor all of the Indian Ocean, says China’s top Chinese disarmament strategist.

india Updated: Jun 26, 2017 20:20 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
China’s concern are perhaps also reflected in its continuous opposition to India’s attempt to join the NSG.
China’s concern are perhaps also reflected in its continuous opposition to India’s attempt to join the NSG.(Picture courtesy: GA-ASI official website)

China is concerned over the possible sale of US surveillance drones to India, which will help New Delhi keep a closer watch over the strategically important Indian Ocean, a top Chinese disarmament strategist has said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Monday hold his first meeting with US President Donald Trump and China will be keeping a close watch over the proceedings in Washington.

The two leaders are also likely to discuss the sale of US fighter jets to India but that is not much of a worry for China, said Han Hua, who is the director of centre for arms control and disarmament at the school of international studies at Beijing’s Peking University.

“Some people in China are a little concerned. Still, it is not the most advanced technology being shared for example when you look at the F-16s,” Han told HT. “There is also the transfer of surveillance drones in the Indian Ocean. It will increase India’s capability to have a view over the entire Indian Ocean. That is more symbolic than the F-16 joint production.”

A Reuters report earlier said an agreement on the “purchase of 22 unarmed drones is seen in New Delhi as a key test of defence ties”.

Several media reports have said the US has already approved the sale of 22 predator Guardian drones India had sought for its navy.

Han said strategic analysts were closely following the US-India relationship since the two countries signed the civil nuclear deal.

“Especially after the nuclear deal, the relationship between Washington and New Delhi has emerged as a concern among Chinese strategists,” she said.

Han said the 2005 nuclear agreement was not just a deal. It was a symbol of the nature of the strategic partnership between the US and India. “In that sense, China is concerned,” she said.

The relationship had an impact on the China-US relations as well.

“After the Bush administration opened the door to India, people in Washington have been talking about India’s role in checking China’s rise,” she said.

China’s concern are perhaps also reflected in its continuous opposition to India’s attempt to join the 48-member nuclear suppliers group (NSG) that controls global trade in nuclear technology.

On the issue of India’s entry into the NSG, with China being one of the countries to have blocked it, Han said there had been no specific policy change by Washington.

“We haven’t witnessed any specific policy change on NSG after the Trump administration (took over) in terms of India’s membership. Some people have said the administration supports the membership but a strong statement hasn’t been made yet in that issue”.

She said India’s inclusion in NSG will of course be part of Modi-Trump talks but might not be on top of the agenda.

India’s foreign policy was likely to remain independent despite the increasing diplomatic closeness to the US, Han said.

She said foreign policy independence was very well-entrenched in India no matter which party was in power.

“Modi, people tend to think is more nationalistic, takes a very realistic view on the world rather than the middle-line policies taken by the Congress. In my sense, India is still a country with its own pride and glory so I don’t think India will go very far from far beyond the general non-alignment policy,” she said.

First Published: Jun 26, 2017 14:02 IST

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