China has played down India’s decision to sign a Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) with the US, saying that the proposed deal is stalled due to distrust between New Delhi and Washington.
A couple of days after the Narendra Modi government announced that India would strengthen defence co-operation with America, the Chinese state media said that the US would never treat the South Asian country as a ‘superpower’ and share defence expertise with it. The state media also said that Washington is using India as a pawn in its rebalancing strategy to Asia.
China believes that India’s growing proximity with Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia has already raised a few eyebrows in the US and America will think twice before considering India as its ‘true friend’. The Asian powerhouse ridiculed India’s ambition to become a superpower, saying that India “wants to be the most beautiful woman wooed by all (especially Washington and Beijing)”.
China described the Indo-US ties in a different way. In an article – titled ‘Indo-US strategic distrust stalls LSA signing’, the state-run ‘Global Times’ said: “Besides their traditional distrust, the speculation heralding a US-India alliance is also an obvious underestimation of India’s ambition for a role of swing-state between superpowers. The basic idea is that India would like to continue to be the most beautiful woman wooed by all men, notably the two strongest in the house, US and China.”
It added: “This is not an unfamiliar role to India. We can still recall how its diplomatic manoeuvring had earned itself a special role between the two competing blocs during the Cold War. Evidently enough, it needs to feel its way forward and try not to agitate China by crossing the bottom line and consequently, it declines to discuss the prospect of joint patrols in the South China Sea, despite the obvious interest and much enthusiasm from its American counterpart.”
Interestingly, the Global Times published the article during Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit to China. After holding talks with US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter in New Delhi last week, Parrikar (currently in Shanghai) expressed hope that the proposed LSA would help both India and the US contain China.
According to the Chinese leadership, India, as a member of BRICS – an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, should maintain cordial relations with its northern neighbour. Beijing also advised New Delhi to understand the fact that India’s undeclared military alliance with the US would dampen the co-operation among the BRICS member countries. Beijing even said that China and Russia could provide India with admirable strategic opportunities in the changing global political scenario.
Even some Indian foreign policy experts have questioned the Modi administration’s recent decision to allow the American forces to use Indian military bases. Citing a US Agency for International Development (USAID) report, they have said that (perhaps) the Indian government made such a decision without considering the US’ defence co-operation with neighbouring Pakistan. As per the report, America gives Pakistan eight times more money than India. Currently, India receives aid worth USD 119.6 million from the US and the amount is only 12.5% of the aid given to Pakistan.
Some countries receive aid from America earmarked as military assistance. Pakistan has recently been criticised for its alleged involvement in attacks against US installations in Afghanistan, despite receiving 28% of American aid under the military category. A look at US military funding clearly shows that major recipient countries are disturbed nations. However, India receives around 98% of grants from the US as economic aid.