The outgoing US Ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster, referring to China’s aggression on the border through last year, today said India and the US have had close cooperation during this period, but left it to New Delhi to get into the extent of cooperation — military and otherwise.
India, he said, faces “aggressive Chinese activity on its border”, “perhaps on a sustained basis”. In this backdrop, the close coordination between US and India is important.
“I believe that no country has as strong and robust a defense and counterterrorism relationship with India as does the United States. Simply put, no other country does as much to contribute to the security of Indians and India,” he said.
The Indo-Pacific region, the Ambassador said, is fast becoming the “centre of gravity of the evolving international system”.
Pointing to the rise of China and the Covid-19 pandemic that has wreaked economies, he said the region needs “stability, leadership, and democratic model for development that does not threaten the sovereignty of other nations”.
“This is why a strong and democratic India is an important partner to promote peace and prosperity,” he added.
India has been engaged in a violent face-off with China since April-May last year at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. In June, 20 Indian soldiers died in clashes with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley.
On various occasions, the US had strongly criticized China and expressed support for India’s efforts to defend sovereignty. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said the US “stands with India to deal with any threat”.
At the Quad meeting in October last year, Mr Pompeo had asked Asian allies to unite against Beijing’s “exploitation, corruption and coercion” in the region.
It is “more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the CCP’s (Chinese Communist Party) exploitation, corruption and coercion”, he added, citing China’s actions in South and East China Seas, Hong Kong Himalayas, the Taiwan strait… these are just a few examples,” he added.