New Delhi: With just a week left for the end of the term of President Donald Trump, the administration has declassified one of the most crucial documents, the United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific that gives an overarching view of Washington’s policy for the region and India.
The declassified document sees India as a net provider of security with the object to solidify an enduring strategic partnership with India. The document states that the partnershi with India is “underpinned by a strong Indian military able to effectively collaborate with the US“.
The document was released by the US National Security Council. The White House said, the aim was to communicate to the American people and to our allies and partners about Washington’s enduring commitment to keeping the “Indo-Pacific region free and open long into the future.”
The declassified document calls for offering ‘support to India–through diplomatic, military, and intelligence channels–to help address continental challenges such as the border dispute with China and access to water, including the Brahmaputra and other rivers facing diversion by China’.
The document, calls for building “a stronger foundation for defense cooperation and interoperability” between New Delhi and Washington with a focus on the expansion of “defense trade and…increase cooperation on shared regional security concerns”.
The focus is also on enhancing connectivity by “working with India and Japan to help finance projects that enhance regional connectivity”. This comes even as China under its mega belt and road initiative has been expanding connectivity in south Asia and the wider region but leaving a trail of debt, being referred to as Beijing’s “debt-trap diplomacy”.
India and US, have built closer ties in the last two decades, under the leadership of former presidents Bill Clinton to George W Bush to Barack Obama and up to the Donald Trump administration. But it was only during the current dispensation, the focus has increasingly been on the Indo-Pacific region backed both by New Delhi and Washington.
While this document was approved in February 2018, the support on intelligence-sharing in China stands out amid the dispute at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India-China.
On China, the document has been scathing, with a focus on “countering Chinese predatory economic practices that freeze out foreign competition” and working closely with “allies and like-minded countries to prevent Chinese acquisition of military and strategic capabilities”.
The year 2020 was one of the worst years in the New Delhi-Beijing relationship as an aggressive Chinese force tried to change the status quo in Eastern Ladakh.