Biden pitches for ‘Big 3’ trilateral between US, India and China

Against the backdrop of Beijing’s apprehensions over Washington’s pursuit of a China containment conspiracy, US Vice-President Joe Biden has chosen India’s financial hub to pitch for a trilateral dialogue between India, the US and China, “the three big nations” to revive the world economy and to develop regional stability.

The proposal for a India-US-China trilateral dialogue has been doing the rounds in strategic circles for some time, but this is perhaps the first time it has been articulated at this level, and that, too, by Biden, who is seen to enjoy confidence of US President Barack Obama.

The choice of Mumbai to argue the case for a trilateral also seems to suggest a rethink on part of the Obama administration, which in its first term had played with the idea of G2 condominium between the US and China, the world’s two largest economies.

“The cooperation between the three big nations, India, China and the US, will help grow world economy,” Biden, who is on  his maiden visit to India, told India’s top business leaders at a lecture on ‘US-India Partnership’ July 24 at the Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai.

“I’ve heard people talk about the US-China relationship as everything from the next Cold War to the next G2. None — neither of those characterisations is accurate,” Biden stressed. “I’ve had discussions on this issue while I’ve been here, but I knew it already, like India, we have a complex relationship with China. It has important elements of cooperation and also competition,” Biden said.

“And we want it to be constructive. There are three big nations, we are three big nations, China, India and the US, with our own perspectives. We have significant common interests. All three of us and the entire region would benefit if we coordinated more closely,” he said.

Alluding to trilateral dialogue the US has with India and Japan, Biden said:  “It is past time we launch one with China.”

India, US and Japan have already held three rounds of trilateral dialogue that focuses on expanded cooperation in the maritime domain and a cluster of geopolitical issues in Asia-Pacific and the East Asia theatre. This trilateral dialogue has evoked apprehensions from Beijing’s political-diplomatic establishment which has tended to see the coming together of the three democracies as the encirclement strategy targeted at China’s rise. India has repeatedly denied being part of any China containment strategy and stressed that it was committed to developing friction-free multi-pronged relations with Beijing.

The proposed trilateral has also an added significance in view of the US’ Asia rebalancing strategy which is also seen by Beijing as part of the containment strategy. It will be interesting to see how Beijing reacts to such a proposal as it comes amid its efforts to smoothen its ties with New Delhi which was recently challenged by a tense stand-off between border troops of the two countries. China’s ties with Japan are in churn due to renewed mutual assertion over competing claims over the disputed Diaoyou/Senkaku islands.


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