Indo-Pacific strategy costs India development opportunity

By Wang Wenwen  (Global Times, 1 July 2018) – India is eager for development, but the US is not the one that can provide New Delhi with the atmosphere that its development needs. The decision of the US administration to postpone the US-India “2+2 dialogue”, scheduled for July 6, is a disappointment to India, and the second such time that this supposedly important dialogue between the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers has been postponed.

Indian media speculated that the latest postponement was due to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to North Korea to discuss denuclearization plans. Divergences over other issues between the US and India were also cited as a possible reason.

The US has been generous about its fondness for India in rhetoric. But whether the fondness is what Indians need the most, or if the value is worth the price, remains undetermined.

Of course, the United States and India do have common interests. Otherwise, there would be no Indo-Pacific strategy at all. However, any benefits from this strategy may be greatly outweighed by the costs to India.

The subtext of this strategy of the United States is that it hopes India can play an essential role in balancing the rise of China. Does India really want to play the role that the US expects? Don’t forget that this strategy has a strong military stance against China. At the very least, it is re-dividing Asia-Pacific with Cold War thinking.

It is understandable that India wants to keep its sphere of influence as an emerging power, but this shouldn’t come at the cost of its domestic development. Indulging in the game of military balance will only consume India’s strength.

India needs to be aware that without paying heed to Indian concerns, the US’ strategy is hampering, not aiding, India’s domestic development. Rather than falling victim to the US’ purpose of containing China’s rise, it is better for India to look to China for ways of self-development. What India can learn from China is that its ability to stand on its own feet will determine its place in Asia and the world.

India is currently at a critical juncture in its development. Can India’s economy achieve greater development in the next five to 10 years? The number one challenge is how India can lay the foundation for manufacturing and infrastructure to fully enter the global production chain.

From this perspective, it is China, not the United States, that can provide more support and knowledge to India. If India follows the US strategy step by step, it will lose future opportunities to cooperate with China and many other neighboring countries. India should be able to understand the situation.

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