In its first response on the India-China border standoff, the US Biden administration has voiced concern over Beijing’s pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate its neighbours. Responding to a question on the Chinese intrusions into Indian territory, Emily J Horne, spokesperson of the White House’s National Security Council, asserted that the US will stand with friends, partners and allies to advance shared prosperity, security and values in the Indo-Pacific region. This is a clear signal that the Biden administration will continue with the previous Trump administration’s efforts to counter China’s aggressive tactics in Asia.
The welcome difference is that while Trump had an erratic approach to strategic security issues in Asia, Biden has promised to adopt a more substantive multilateral approach in dealing with China. This is something that has the approval of all nations that have been at the receiving end of Chinese aggression in the recent past. After all, Trump’s disconnect between security issues and trade-economic engagement wasn’t helping matters. This actually left little choice for nations like those of the Asean grouping in the matter of continuing to do business with China, despite having territorial disputes with Beijing.
But if Biden can combine both regional economic measures and security posturing, it could lead to a powerful strategy to counter China’s expansionist designs. And this is precisely why India should quickly move to cement a free trade agreement with the US to complement their existing security partnership. Tackling China requires a commitment to international rules and free and open systems. Not a transactional approach that Trump was offering. Hopefully, Biden can deliver on the promised support.
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