India is critical to US strategy in Indo-Pacific, say experts

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Former Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said that the relationship between India and the United States “will continue to grow because strategic congruence is growing, whether on climate change, China, Indo-Pacific, or maritime security.”

During a virtual panel discussion organized by the Hudson Institute think-tank,  experts, including former Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and President of Center for China Analysis and Strategy Jayadeva Ranade said that India is critical to United State’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific as the two nations have a mutual vision for it to be free and open amidst China’s assertiveness. 

Menon stated that the relationship between India and the United States “will continue to grow because strategic congruence is growing, whether on climate change, China, Indo-Pacific, or maritime security.” He said that India sees the United States “as an essential partner not only in its own transformation but as the only global superpower and the two countries have a common strategic vision for free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Menon said that the United States “is our [India] largest trading partner and while we have differences we know how to manage them.” 

Several other world powers besides India and the United States have supported the vision of a free, open, and thriving Indo-Pacific as China’s rising military assertiveness in the region continues to grow. China is also focusing on the strategic Indian Ocean region to enforce Beijing’s influence.

Ranade said that under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping, China aims to first establish itself as the leading power in Asia or Indo-Pacific and then to rival the United States if not surpass it. He said: “India stands in the way of this Chinese goal.”

While commenting on the future, Menon said that resetting the relationship with China will be a “long hard process.”

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