By Ananth Krishnan, India Today – 30 August 2016
“If India hastily joins the US alliance system,” an editorial in the Global Times suggested, “it may irritate China, Pakistan or even Russia. It may not make India feel safer, but will bring strategic troubles to itself and make itself a centre of geopolitical rivalries in Asia.”
As India and the United States today finally inked a long-discussed defence logistics support agreement, China’s state media described the move as “a leap forward” in defence ties but added that any future move by India to join the US “alliance system” would bring “strategic troubles”.
An editorial in the Global Times, a widely tabloid published by the official People’s Daily known for its nationalistic views, today said the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement(LEMOA) deal which would give both sides access to bases and military logistics support was “undoubtedly a leap forward in US-India military cooperation”.
TROUBLES FOR INDIA IF IT JOINS US ALLIANCE?
At the same time, the paper said it did not see the deal as reflecting a change in India’s “prudent” balancing strategy or a loss of “strategic independence” that “may render New Delhi a ‘follower’ of Washington”.
“If India hastily joins the US alliance system,” it suggested, “it may irritate China, Pakistan or even Russia. It may not make India feel safer, but will bring strategic troubles to itself and make itself a centre of geopolitical rivalries in Asia.”
Reflecting China’s irritation at the American “pivot” or “rebalancing” which Beijing sees as a containment strategy, the paper said “Washington has deliberately wooed New Delhi to become its quasi ally so as to impose geopolitical pressure on China”.
INDIA WILL GAIN ONLY FROM STRATEGIC MANEUVERING
However, it suggested that India “will not lean toward the US, because it will not only hurt India’s self-esteem, more importantly, India can gain more strategic benefits by striking a balance between China and the US.”
Rather than join any bloc, India would gain from “strategic maneuvering”, the paper suggested, pointing out that India had “remained cool to the idea” to Japan’s push for a quadrilateral alliance between the US, Japan, Australia and India.
“Since China does not resort to regional expansion, the US’ maneuvers in Asia will prove futile. The primary field of competition for China and the US is the economy. As long as China can keep its fast growth, the US’ strategic deployment will go nowhere,” the Global Times said.
MODI GOVERNMENT TRYING TO LEAN TOWARDS US?
The editorial said that India had “practiced the principles of non-alignment since independence, which have been advocated by Indian elites”.
“It is possible that the Modi administration is trying an unconventional way to lean towards the US with the logistics agreement. But how close the US-India relationship can be and what geopolitical values it can get remains a question.”
It concluded that India “holds dear its independence and sovereignty after squeezing out of the UK’s colonialism”.
“It views itself as a major power and is developing on the wave of the emerging countries. It attaches high importance to national security. It feels it is an urgent task because its defence levels are a necessary condition of being a major power, rather than out of a sense of crisis that requires an intimacy to the US,” the paper said.