Peter Baker and Gardiner Harris write for the New York Times on President Obama’s recent three day visit to India for India’s Republic Day, arguably a breakthrough in bilateral relations. Baker and Harris highlight that despite the long list of issues President Obama brought to the discussion table in India; a notable period of time was spent talking about China.
The authors reported that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to sign a joint statement with Mr. Obama criticizing China for provoking conflict with neighbors over control of the South China Sea, noting that Mr. Modi’s vested interests in China’s rise are in line with those of the United States. The authors write that for years American presidents have tried to solidify a partnership with India, partially to offset the looming threat of a rising China. India, despite its historically poor relationship with China, has so far resisted aligning itself more closely with the United States to restrain its powerful neighbor. The authors argue that this stance is poised to change under Mr. Modi’s leadership, who has expressed interest in playing a greater role in the APEC forum and in reviving a loose security network involving the United States, India, Japan and Australia to counterbalance China’s growing regional dominance.
For a joint statement, Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi “reaffirmed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea.” The authors elaborate that China and India have had minor clashes on several instances in the past year, which perhaps reinforces Mr. Modi’s determination to play a greater role in Asian affairs; Mr. Modi’s “Act East” policy coincides conveniently with Mr. Obama’s own “Pivot to Asia”. Baker and Harris write that the possibility of an Indo-American Partnership has “clearly aggravated China”, as Mr. Obama’s visit to India received ample negative coverage from Chinese state-owned media.
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Baker, Peter, and Gardiner Harris. “U.S. and India Share Sense of Unease Over China” The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 27 Jan. 2015.