With new law, US reaffirms India’s key role in Indo-Pacific strategy
The law recalls, reaffirms and endorses ongoing India-US cooperation and “calls for the strengthening and broadening of diplomatic, economic, and security ties between the two nations.Updated: Jan 02, 2019 01:32 IST
US President Donald Trump on Monday signed into law a legislation that reinforces US commitment to its evolving strategy for the Indo-Pacific — to deal with China — and recognises the “vital role” its strategic ties with India will play in promoting peace and security in the region.
The law recalls, reaffirms and endorses ongoing India-US cooperation under all existing instruments, such as the “New Framework for the United States-India Defense Relationship” of 2005 to the designating of India as a Major Defense Partner by a 2017 law, and “calls for the strengthening and broadening of diplomatic, economic, and security ties between the United States and India”.
It is not an India-centric law, and details US relations with all major powers and entities in the region, including China, Australia, Japan and the ASEAN.
Called the “Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, 2018”, it builds on the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy announced in 2017 that had defined the Indo-Pacific as a region that “stretches from the west coast of India to the western shores of the United States”, which, it had said, was witnessing a “geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of world order”.
The top challenge facing US and the international system backed by it is “China’s illegal construction and militarisation of artificial features in the South China Sea and coercive economic practices”, which is a concern that America shares with India, Japan, Australia and others, the new law said.
The other threats, in that order, were North Korea’s “acceleration of its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities”; and terrorisms, “increased presence throughout Southeast Asia of the Islamic State … and other international terrorist organisations that threaten the United States”.
The law also recognises US’s growing engagement with India, Australia and Japan under the framework of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue — popularly called the Quad — that had two meetings in 2018 alone, still at the level of officials though.
The law also recognized the importance of cooperation with India in the context of the wider US engagement with ASEAN, along with the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Republic of Korea, and Taiwan.