In what can be perceived as a signaling to China, United States and India – who are currently battling the dragon’s assertive economic and military posturing respectively – have announced plans to elevate their strategic consultations.
In the phone call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 August, US President Donald Trump congratulated India on the 70th Independence Day and the two leaders resolved to establishing a new 2-by-2 ministerial dialogue that will elevate their strategic consultations. Although the White House statement did not refer explicitly to China or to the Doklam stand-off, it went far beyond the pleasantries, saying that “the leaders resolved to enhance peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region”.
The announcement came at a time when India continues to resist China’s unilateral attempt to change the status quo at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction and the US – faced with Beijing’s inaction on the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and unfair trade practices – has expressed displeasure. While New Delhi has brushed aside Beijing’s repeated calls for India’s withdrawal, Washington has initiated a review of Chinese trade practices regarding intellectual properties.
Growing geopolitical engagement between the two countries was also visible as Trump welcomed the first ever shipment of American crude oil to India, which will come from Texas this month, pledging that the Washington would continue to be a reliable, long-term supplier of energy to New Delhi.
Prime Minister Modi thanking President Trump for his “strong leadership uniting the world against the North Korean menace” also indicates growing engagement on pressing security issues. Not to forget, India had recently banned all trade with North Korea except for food and medicine. India had also criticised North Korea’s test of nuclear-capable missiles. India’s statement on the issue, which called on the world to “hold accountable all those parties that have supported North Korea” in these programmes, targeted China.
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