The emergence of India as an economic powerhouse attracts the attention of poll bound America. In its draft manifesto for the upcoming Presidential Election, the Democratic Party has described the South Asian country as an “important Pacific power”. Democrats have also pledged that they will continue to invest in a long-term strategic partnership with India, if Hillary Clinton becomes the president.
By describing India as a “Pacific” power, the Democratic Party has acknowledged India’s increasingly important role in countering China in the Asia-Pacific region. It is to be noted that Democrats have stressed on India’s “Pacific” association, without any references to “Asia-Pacific” or the Indian Ocean, which is considered as New Delhi’s own backyard. The manifesto has surprised senior Indian diplomats, who are of the opinion that Democrats are trying to push the geo-strategic envelope, involving the US, China and India.
The draft of the platform, which will be finalised soon, clearly states: “From the Asia Pacific to the Indian Ocean, we will deepen our alliances in the region with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand. Democrats will continue to invest in a long-term strategic partnership with India – the world’s largest democracy, a nation of great diversity and an important Pacific power. We will work with our allies and partners to fortify regional institutions and norms, as well as protect freedom of the seas in the South China Sea.”
The Democrats believe that Americans can “keep our country prosperous and safe” by maintaining healthy ties with India. As per the party manifesto, India’s help is required to defeat terrorism, combat climate change and counter China’s rise. The Democratic Party has also condemned China’s unfair trade practices, currency manipulation and cyber-attacks, saying: “China and other countries are using unfair trade practices to tilt the playing field against American workers and businesses. When they dump cheap products into our markets, subsidise state-owned enterprises, devalue currencies and discriminate against American companies, our middle class pays the price. That has to stop.”
Although New Delhi has made no comment on the manifesto, Indian diplomats and foreign policy experts have said that Democrats could create fresh tension between the two Asian neighbours by projecting India as the US’ main ally in the continent. They have advised the Narendra Modi government not to allow Washington to influence the Sino-Indian ties. According to experts, India, despite maintaining cordial relationships with America in the changing global geopolitical landscape, will have to resolve outstanding issues with China through peaceful negotiations in order to ensure peace and stability in the region.
The US’ stand on Sino-India ties is a cause for concern for Indian experts. Washington has not yet come out in support of India’s position in its boundary dispute with China and there is no guarantee the US will do so in future. The Sino-Indian boundary has been quiet for years unlike the one with Pakistan. The Modi administration should be aware of the fact that renewed tension can make the Sino-Indian boundary active.