India-US ties not targeted at China, says US envoy

us-envoy-varmaThe US has sought a more proactive partnership with India to promote regional stability, but has underlined that the growing India-US relationships are not “confrontational” in relationship with China.

“[India-US Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Regions] is a vision borne out of the recognition that India’s Act East policy and our rebalance to Asia are complementary and have the potential to create meaningful impact in the region. We want our partnership to benefit not only our two countries, but also the region—and to a larger extent have our partnership stand as a model for emerging democracies worldwide,” US ambassador to India Richard Verma said. Richard Verma is the first Indian-American to become the US ambassador to India. He was speaking an interaction organised by the Asia Society Indian Centre in Mumbai on February 10.

The joint vision statement on the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions during US President Barack Obama’s trip to India haw elicited strong negative reaction from China. Influential state-controlled Chinese dailies termed the vision statement as a manifestation of a US-orchestrated containment strategy directed against China, and accused India of following through with the “containment policy.”

The US envoy’s remarks sought to allay Beijing’s anxieties and placed the India-US geopolitical configuration in a broader perspective. “[Indo-US joint strategic vision] should not be seen as a strategy that is confrontational to our relationship with China. On the contrary, as our new National Security Strategy outlines, we welcome a stable, peaceful, and prosperous China and a constructive relationship that also promotes security and prosperity in Asia and around the world,” Verma said. “At the same time, we will manage competition from a position of strength while insisting that China uphold international rules and norms on issues ranging from maritime security to trade and human rights,” he added.

Highlighting the successful visit of President Obama to New Delhi as chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations, Mr Verma said that Mr Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in their joint statement, affirmed their shared commitment to facilitating increased bilateral investment and fostering an open and predictable climate for investment. “As our trade, technology, manufacturing, and investment linkages between us become stronger, we will not forget our commitment to maintain labor standards in accordance with domestic law and international norms.” Mr Verma also underscored the imperative for deepening India-US collaboration in cyber security and highlighted the need for greater vigilance against China-origin cyber attacks.

“We will take necessary actions to protect our businesses and defend our networks against cyber-theft of trade secrets for commercial gain whether by private actors or the Chinese government.” Richard Verma also highlighted the important of coming together to fight global terrorism and face global challenges.

The envoy also spoke about deepening cooperation between India and the US in combating terrorism and a host of cross-cutting challenges. “As the President and Prime Minister jointly stated, we will oppose terrorism, piracy, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And we will deepen collaboration to combat the full spectrum of terrorist threats and condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations with ‘zero tolerance’,” Mr Verma said.

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