Sense of Urgency over China has Strengthened Unity

Close cooperation between the United States and India is essential to deter China’s growing military influence in the Indo-Pacific region. Hopefully, the two countries will further strengthen their relationship based on the defense cooperation agreed upon between the leaders.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in Washington and released a joint statement incorporating the contents of the agreement. The joint production of fighter jet engines by a U.S. company and an Indian state-owned company is a landmark achievement.

The joint production will take place in India, and the transfer of technology from the U.S. side will also be promoted, according to the statement. It is highly unusual for Washington to provide its advanced military technology to a country that is not one of its allies. An agreement was also reached on the sale of U.S. drones to India.

India has a long-standing border dispute with China, and clashes between soldiers from the two countries have occurred in the disputed areas. It is obvious that amid the continued conflict, India aims to strengthen defense cooperation with the United States and improve deterrence against China.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India may also be aware of the danger of a structure that relies on Russia for arms procurement, and may intend to diversify its procurement sources.

The joint statement by the U.S. and Indian leaders clearly stated that they “strongly oppose” unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo by force, with China’s maritime expansion in the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Indian Ocean in mind. It can be said that this is also an encouraging achievement for Japan, which also faces threats from China.

The hope is to further promote the Quad, a framework for security cooperation among Japan, the United States, Australia and India.

On the other hand, the United States and India remain divided on how to respond to Russia’s continued aggression.

While the joint statement emphasized their “deep concern” over the situation in Ukraine and respect for “the rules-based international order,” it did not include any condemnation of Russia or sanctions against Moscow.

India has a policy tradition of nonalignment that sees it keep its distance from major powers, but if it accepts situations in which international law is trampled upon and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are violated, its own security will also be threatened. From this perspective, India needs to review its relations with Russia.

The Modi administration has been criticized internationally for suppressing religious minorities such as Muslims and opposition parties. When Modi addressed the U.S. Congress this time, some members boycotted his attendance.

Still, Biden did not directly mention India’s human rights problems at a joint press conference. It is likely that he prioritized taking concerted action with India in terms of the U.S. strategy toward China.

It is hoped that India will act in a manner befitting the “world’s largest democracy” so that its unity with Japan, the United States and other countries will not be disturbed.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 28, 2023)