Articles

US-India


US-India

September — December 2013

Seeking to Sustain the New Normal

The tenor of US-India relations in 2013 was similar to that articulated by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 when she spoke of the need for “daily, weekly, monthly collaboration” rather than dramatic breakthroughs. In a February 2013 visit to Washington, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai echoed these comments. He argued that the bilateral relationship has reached a “new normal” in which consultation has become a habit. For its part, the Obama administration continued to hail the relationship as a defining partnership. There were about 60 official visits during the year and about 35 different dialogues, working and consultation mechanisms to move the relationship forward. The areas of discussion and action covered commercial ties including trade and investment, defense relations, a special focus on Afghanistan, and broad consultation on Asia-Pacific and global issues.

India - East Asia

January — December 2011

Triangulate This

Over a decade into the “normalization” of US-India relations and nearly 20 years into India’s “Look East” policy, the US-India-East Asia nexus is regularly articulated by the US and India, generally accepted in the region, and shows some signs of gaining traction including a regular US-India dialogue on East Asia and the launch of the first-ever US-India-Japan trilateral dialogue. More broadly, US views of India as part of Asia now encompass mental as well as policy maps (though not yet bureaucratic and all geographical ones) and transcend party politics. Meanwhile, US-India bilateral relations move steadily if sometimes frustratingly forward, and India-East Asia ties continue to deepen and widen though to neither side’s full satisfaction. One thing is clear: triangulation depends above all on India’s own commitment and actions to build a closer relationship with the wider Asia-Pacific region. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an echo of comments made by regional leaders over the years, told an Indian audience in Chennai in July that “India’s leadership will help to shape positively the future of the Asia Pacific.  That’s why … we encourage India not just to look east, but to engage east and act east as well [emphasis added].”

High-profile visits and meetings characterized Indian relations with both the United States and East Asia in 2010. While there were no major “breakthroughs” or departures as a result, the ongoing evolution of both US-India and India-East Asia relations suggests that they are now a fixed part of the US-Asia dynamic. It is worth noting that while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton neither visited India during her first trip to Asia in February 2009 (she did visit India in July 2009) nor made mention of India in her pre-departure address on US Asia policy, in November 2010 President Obama opened his speech to the joint session of India’s Parliament by declaring that “[i]t’s no coincidence that India is my first stop on a visit to Asia…” And the joint statement between the two countries issued during that visit specifically noted a “shared vision for peace, stability and prosperity in Asia, the Indian Ocean region and the Pacific region…[and] agreed “to deepen existing regular strategic consultations on developments in East Asia…” Indeed, including India at all in an Asia itinerary is a recent innovation in US foreign policy and one that speaks to a larger US policy debate about the evolving Asia-Pacific.  Whether such an innovation sticks remains to be seen, although many indications suggest that it will; especially as the need to coordinate increases on matters such as the East Asian Summit, maritime cooperation across the “Indo-Pacific,” and wider global issues.

The past two years have been especially full for India’s diplomacy – both toward the United States and East Asia. Toward the U.S., India, by mobilizing hundreds of thousands of troops along the international border with Pakistan following an attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, was engaged in “coercive diplomacy” aimed at getting Washington to pressure Pakistan to halt cross-border infiltration into Kashmir. For much of 2002 and half of 2003, U.S.-India relations were preoccupied with getting Pakistan to carry through on its commitments, preventing further escalation or miscalculation of the crisis, initiating a political process in Jammu and Kashmir, and nudging India-Pakistan relations toward dialogue. Simultaneously, the U.S. and India worked to implement the “big idea” of the Bush administration to transform U.S.-India relations through enhanced defense cooperation, improved trade, and wider political and security consultations. On both these counts, the U.S. and India achieved some progress – though not smoothly.

India in 2003 was also pursuing an improvement in relations with its rapidly growing neighbor, China, while building on the past few years of steady improvement with Southeast Asia, and to a lesser extent Japan. While no dramatic events or breakthroughs have occurred, an incremental but steady focus by India on East Asia has been maintained despite severe India-Pakistan tension during all of 2002 and the first half of 2003.

This article, building on earlier reviews of U.S.-India (see “U.S.-India Relations: Visible to the Naked Eye,” Comparative Connections, Vol. 3, No. 4) and India-East Asia Relations (see “India-East Asia Relations: The Weakest Link, but not Goodbye,” Comparative Connections, Vol. 3, No.1, January 2003), examines U.S.-India and India-East Asia relations in 2002-2003 and 2003 respectively.

Daily Digest

Nikkei Asia – Myanmar military chief to be excluded from ASEAN summit

ASEAN Foreign ministers agreed to not invite Myanmar’s military chief to a leaders summit because of slow progress on restoring peace in the country.

Inquirer – Isko Moreno open to oil extraction in WPS with Chinese private groups

Should he become the country’s next president, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said he is open to a deal with private groups in China for the exploration and possible extraction of oil and natural gas in the West Philippine Sea.

The Japan Times – Kishida and South Korea’s Moon discuss lingering wartime disputes

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida urged South Korean President Moon Jae In to take the initiative to resolve a bilateral spat over wartime compensation.

The Hindu – India-U.S. Financial Dialogue includes new focus on climate change

The eighth Ministerial meeting of the U.S.-India Economic and Financial partnership held a session dedicated to climate finance for the first time.

The Diplomat – AUKUS: A New Justification for Thailand’s Submarine Acquisition Plans?

The new trilateral security partnership could bolster the Thai navy’s long-standing submarine plans, but many obstacles remain.

South China Morning Post – Upgrades for Chinese military airbases facing Taiwan hint at war plans

Satellite images have revealed China is upgrading and reinforcing its airbases closest to Taiwan along its southeastern coast, indicating Beijing may be stepping up its plans to take the island by force.

South China Morning Post — Vladimir Putin breaks Nobel Peace Prize silence to threaten Russian laureate Dmitry Muratov

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a thinly veiled threat against the journalist Dmitry Muratov, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week for his investigative journalism as editor-in-chief of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

Reuters — U.S. calls Cambodia opaque over Chinese activity at navy base

The United States accused Cambodia of lacking transparency about Chinese construction activities at its biggest naval base, and urged the government to disclose to its people the full scope of Beijing’s military involvement.

Associated Press — China: Military drills, flights were needed to defend Taiwan

China’s recent increase in military exercises and warplane missions near Taiwan — which have raised concerns around the region — were necessary to defend the nation’s sovereignty and territory, a Chinese official said.

The Japan Times – Flanked by nuclear missiles, North Korean leader says U.S. and South threaten peace

Kim Jong Un says North Korea’s weapons development is necessary in the face of hostile policies from the United States and a military buildup in South Korea, state media reported.