India will not be a major player in America’s game of ‘rebalancing the Asia-Pacific’

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SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who came into power in May, has started his trip to the United States. After attending the United Nations General Assembly, Modi will be on a state visit of the United States.

Modi spoke highly of his state visit to the United States in an announcement released before the trip. He said that India regards America as a vital partner for national development and hopes visit will mark a “new chapter” in a strategic partnership between the two countries. The U.S is ready to reward India’s enthusiasm. Reports indicated that U.S. President Barack Obama will host a rare private dinner for Modi at the White House to “promote a personal relationship with Modi”.

The direction of Indian-American relationships has aroused intensive attention. Media reports say that India has a vital role to play in the U.S. strategy of “rebalancing Asia-Pacific”. Many people anticipate that the U.S. will rely on India to counter China. In fact, no matter how close the relationship between India and the U.S. grows, India will not be a major player on the American team. The ‘rebalancing’ strategy consists of three parts – politics, economy and security. However, Indian national power is not sufficiently strong in any one of the three aspects.

Politically, India has to confront political uncertainties. Modi noted that the two countries’ values and interests are aligned. Furthermore, the complementary strengths of India and the U.S. are the foundation of a natural relationship between India and the U.S. The U.S. treats Indian self-esteem with respect.

The U.S.-India ”Global Partnership” was set up in July, 2005. The U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue started in 2010. On this occasion Modi’s visit might provide opportunities for the establishment of an India-U.S. strategic partnership. At the same time, there are vulnerabilities in the relationship. Relations between the two countries deteriorated as a result of a diplomatic issue when Indian diplomats were arrested in the U.S. at the end of 2013. In the short term, unlike other traditional U.S. allies in Asia such as Japan, South Korea and Australia, India will not take on a major role in the U.S. “rebalance in Asia-Pacific” strategy.

Economically, India is expected to enhance its business links with the U.S. but it cannot be a major factor in the important economic agenda of the rebalancing strategy.

India has established an economic and financial partnership with America. One of Modi’s task during his visit is to promote an Indian economic recovery plan. The Indian government has therefore arranged a set of joint activities with American business elite for their Prime Minister Modi in order to attract more Amerian investment.

The key element of the U.S. rebalance strategy is The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The U.S. is attempting to establish free trade zones in the Asia-Pacific with the help of TPP. However, India has not been invited to participate in the negotiation process. In respect of security, America hopes to cooperate with India to maintain regional stability. But currently the U.S. strategy focuses on relationships between its traditional partners including Japan, the Philippines and Australia. When it comes to India, American interest is limited to ammunition supply and developing the military forces.

Fundamentally, India was one of the countries behind the Non-Aligned Movement. Every Indian government has emphasized that non-alignment is a basic principle of their foreign policy. India adheres to an all-round foreign policy strategy. Not only does India give priority to the India-U.S. relationship, it also attaches great importance to Sino-India relationships.

The unsolved territorial disputes will not affect the development of Sino-India relations. China and India vowed to forge a closer development partnership when Chinese President Xi Jinping finished his state visit to India a week ago.

It is unrealistic for America to rely on India to play a leading role in its “rebalance in Asia-Pacific” strategy. There is little prospect of India and the U.S. reaching consensus on Chinese issues.

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