New York, (Asian independent) Anthony Blinken, who is President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be the secretary of state has indicated that the US would continue to back India against challenges to its sovereignty from China and work with it in the fight against terrorism.
Speaking at the confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Blinken said that cooperation in defence equipment and information sharing that had deepened under former President Barack Obama had been carried forward by Trump’s administration “including its concept of Indo-Pacific and to make sure we were working with India so that no country in the region including China could challenge its sovereignty and also working with it on concerns that we share about terrorism”.
He made the comment when asked by Republican Senator Mitt Romney about China’s recent clashes with India.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has given strong support to India against China following the deadly clashes between the two neighbours along the Line of Actual Control in the Ladakh area last year.
“The US will stand with the people of India as they confront threats to their sovereignty and to their liberty,” Pompeo said in New Delhi during a visit for the “2+2” meeting of the heads of defence and foreign relations of the two countries.
“I’m glad to say that the US and India are taking steps to strengthen our cooperation against all manner of threats, and not just those posed by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party),” he added.
China figured prominently in the marathon hearings held before Biden takes office on Wednesday in order to speed up the confirmation process.
“There is no doubt that it poses the most significant challenge of any nation” to US interests and there are “rising adversarial aspects to the relationship”, Blinken said.
He gave credit to President Donald Trump for recognising the China challenge, even though he disagreed with how he went about it.
“I also believe that President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China,” he said.
About the future of relations with India, Blinken said that he expected it to grow, boosted by cooperation on climate change, an issue that is a priority for the new administration.
Blinken referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s programmes for renewable energy, he said, “I think there’s a very strong potential for our countries to work together in that area.”
Biden has put a premium in battling climate change and has said that one of his first acts will be to have the US rejoin the Paris climate change accord, from which President Donald Trump withdrew.
He said that India’s greenhouse gas emissions could catch up with China in the coming decades and, therefore, cooperation on climate change was a necessity.