Dealing with Trump: India banks on US Congress

With strong bipartisan consensus for developing India-US relations, New Delhi is not worried about the course of this vital relationship under the Donald Trump presidency, and is set to leverage enormous goodwill in the US Congress. At a time when top leaders of Britain, Israel and Japan had rushed to Washington to have a measure of the change of guard in the White House, India is doing the same in a way different from top-down approach.

To begin with, a record number of 27 US Congressmen drawn from both the Democratic and the Republican parties will visit India beginning later this month, reflecting a long-standing bipartisan approach in Washington to further strengthening of relations with New Delhi.

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Trump signalling: High on India, tough on China

Barely a week before Donald Trump is sworn in as president of the US, there are reassuring signals that while the India-US relations will be scaled up, the incoming administration will be tough on China, creating a new balancing game in the crucial Asia-Pacific region.
Ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing, Gen (retd) James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Defence Secretary, has identified building stronger ties with India as of “utmost importance.” Gen. Mattis underlined that if confirmed, he would identify areas where India and the US could further bolster their defence ties. It’s a clear signal from the incoming administration that the transformation of the India-US relationship accomplished during the Obama administration, which culminated in the elevation of India as US’ Major Defence Partner, will not only continue apace, but will scale new frontiers in months to come.
Mattis’ remarks should allay apprehensions of those who felt that the Trump administration will withdraw from an activist role in security of the Asia-Pacific region, leaving the field wide open for China, the region’s powerhouse, to set the agenda. President-elect Trump has already rattled Beijing by his controversial telephone call to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-we, indicating that it won’t be business as usual with China unless the latter is more sensitive and accommodative of the US concerns. If the US were to revise its One China policy, the US-China relations are set to hurtle downhill.
What it all adds up to is that contrary to speculation in some sections, the Trump administration will broadly pursue a recalibrated balancing strategy in Asia-Pacific by continuing to bolster ties with India and Japan while relating to China in a tough no-nonsense manner. These remarks are sure to be resented by the powers-that-be in Beijing which has often accused Washington of following an insidious containment strategy, in league with New Delhi and Tokyo.

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