WASHINGTON DC: The United States accused China of undermining the sovereignty of its neighbours during discussions between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh & External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin & Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the fourth 2+2 ministerial dialogue on Monday.
India-US Defence Cooperation is being further expanded and strengthened, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stated in a tweet.
“And just as India’s leadership is central to this rules-based order, so, too, is the US-India defence partnership and our collaboration with like-minded partners. We now coordinate along — alongside each other across the Indo-Pacific region and across domains, which is truly extraordinary, and we are committed to working seamlessly with you across new and emerging domains, including space and cyberspace,” US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin asserted.
The United States has extended its support to strategic partner India as a defence industry leader in the Indo-Pacific and “a net provider of security in the region”. The two countries inked a Space Situational Awareness agreement during the meeting which will take forward the strategic relations between India and the US.
While addressing the Indian delegation, the US Defence Secretary berated China and Russia, “the People’s Republic of China is attempting to challenge and undermine the sovereignty of its neighbours. Beijing is eroding the security of the Indo-Pacific region from its construction of dual-use infrastructure along your border to its unlawful claims in the South China Sea, and we will continue to stand alongside you as you defend your sovereign interest,” Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said.
“Beijing is not alone in its efforts to undermine the security of its neighbours and to change the status quo by force. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the humanitarian devastation that it has created are blatant attempts to undermine the international order that is grounded in the rules and the principles that we share,” Austin said in the dialogue.
The meeting was convened with “the comfort and openness of true strategic partners”, the EAM stated.
Calling the 2+2 meeting productive and substantive, Dr. Jaishankar said the two sides addressed contemporary challenges and issues “in an open and constructive manner.” India and US affirmed their commitment to shaping the direction of world affairs, EAM Jaishankar said.
Experts said the 2+2 dialogue was positive and significant in terms of strengthening defence relations between the two countries.
Speaking to The New Indian, Abhijit Singh, Head, of Maritime Policy Initiative, said the Chinese expansion into the Indo-Pacific is worrying for India.
“It is clear to Indian observers that the PLA is expanding its presence beyond the South China Sea (and the wider Western Pacific) into the Indian Ocean. The nature of Chinese naval and non-naval activity suggests strategic ambition in the Indian Ocean,” Singh said.
He further stated, “It is concerning, however, that an excessive focus by the US and Europe on the conflict in Ukraine is taking the attention away from developments in the Indo Pacific. This could adversely impact the equations in maritime Asia, India’s strategic sphere of interest.”
“The defence partnership with the US is quite robust. India and the US have signed foundational agreements, and India, despite its Aatmanirbhar push, is committed to importing some critical defence equipment from the US, including the long-range surveillance P-8I aircraft and MH-60R multirole helicopters,” he concluded.
Arpit Chaturvedi, policy analyst and former lecturer at San Francisco State University said the statement of the defence ministers of India and the US show the commitment of the two countries to increase interoperability between the Indian and US defence systems.
“More profound changes should be expected with defence relations. The statements from both defence ministers show that there is an unequivocal commitment to increase procurement partnerships and increase interoperability between the Indian and US defence systems. The lack of that and ease of access to parts is a big reason for India’s continued dependence on Russia. This will rapidly change with India diversifying its defence sourcing portfolio with indigenous manufacturing and sourcing from a wide variety of countries including the US,” he said.