Washington: On outgoing Trump administration on Wednesday declassified a Indo-Pacific policy it evolved and shaped over the past couple of years to reveal broad and tough measures to contain China, including “accelerating India’s rise,” through diplomatic, military, and intelligence support, The Times of India has reported.
The decision to reveal it in detail in the turbulent waning days of the Trump dispensation even though the declassification was scheduled for 2042, came as a surprise even amid the toxic pathology between Washington and Beijing over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
Public disclosure of the policy will also put pressure on the incoming Biden dispensation to stay on course with an evolving US-China-India policy that has progressively gotten tougher on Beijing.
“The declassification of the Framework today demonstrates, with transparency, America’s strategic commitments to the Indo-Pacific and to our allies and partners in the region,” Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien wrote in a January 5 memo included with the strategy document.
“Beijing is increasingly pressuring Indo-Pacific nations to subordinate their freedom and sovereignty to a ‘common destiny’ envisioned by the Chinese Communist Party. The US approach is different. We seek to ensure that our allies and partners – all who share the values and aspirations of a free and open Indo-Pacific – can preserve and protect their sovereignty,” he added with explicit citations about the US-India strategic engagement.
The ten-page document, revealed during heightened tensions between India and China amid a continuing border stand-off, states that enhanced US assistance and intelligence sharing should aid New Delhi in key areas of conflict with Beijing, including over border disputes and water rights.
It outlines the US decision to “offer support to #India – through diplomatic, military and intelligence channels to help address continental challenges such as border dispute with China and access to water, including the Brahmaputra and other rivers facing diversion by China.”
“A strong India, in cooperation with like-minded countries, would act as a counter-balance to China,” the document states.
Outlining Washington’s desired outcomes, that policy seeks that “India’s preferred partner in security issues is the United States” and “India maintains the capacity to counter border provocations by China,” and “India remains pre-eminent in South Asia and takes the leading role in maintaining Indian Ocean Security.”
Although the Trump administration’s four years in office — marked by repeated changes at the top in the State Department, Pentagon, and the National Security Council — was underscored by withdrawal, isolation, and neglect in many regions, its engagement in the Indo-Pacific theater was vigorous, and the pandemic, which the Trump administration blames on China, appears to have accelerated it beyond its initial moves in 2018, when it renamed US Pacific Command as the Indo-Pacific Command in a signal it was bringing New Delhi into the security loop.