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US sees ally in India, rival in China

A new document outlines China, Russia and India as key to the global security environment, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2006 01:48 IST

A new US defence strategy document identifies India as “an emerging great power and a key strategic partner” and notes that the choices of three countries — China, Russia and India — will be key to the global security environment in the 21st century.

However, it is China that has been singled out by Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defence Review as the country with the “greatest potential” to compete militarily with the US and put “regional military balances at risk”. The document notes that China could “field disruptive military technologies” that could over time offset traditional US military advantages.

As for the other two “major and emerging powers”, the QDR sums up India as “a key strategic partner” for the US while it views Russia as a country largely in transition.

The document makes a pointed reference to the Indo-US nuke deal, saying it represents the resolve of the two countries to “transform the US-India relationship into a global partnership that will provide leadership in areas of mutual concern and interest”.

“Shared values by long-standing, multi-ethnic democracies provide the foundation for continued and increased strategic cooperation and represent an important opportunity for our two countries,” it says.

The QDR largely focuses on the emerging military challenge from China and calls for several steps to counter that potential threat, even while speaking of moves to encourage Beijing to play a constructive and peaceful role in Asia-Pacific. It also turns the spotlight on terrorism and insurgency, which represent the new challenges for the US military. Major initiatives here would include a 15 per cent boost in the number of elite Special Operations Forces, a near doubling of capacity of unmanned aerial drones to gather intelligence, a $1.5 billion investment to counter biological attack and the creation of special teams to track and defuse nuclear bombs.

At a briefing, principal deputy undersecretary of defence policy, Ryan Henry, stressed that the US needs to be prepared in case China chooses a course that results in confrontation. Building new long-range weapons will be part of the US’ counter-strategy. “We think China should have a military capability sufficient to meet its genuine security needs. Now, how that is translated has a lot to do with what sort of country (China becomes), and how China is going to be contributing to world stability.” China has increased its defence spending by at least 10 per cent in all but one of the last 10 years, says the QDR, adding that Beijing should clarify the goals behind the big increase.

First Published: Feb 05, 2006 01:48 IST