The US government is enforcing an act that calls for a stronger partnership with India in order to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region
- On the last day of 2018, US President Donald
Trumpsigned the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act.
- Under the act, around $1.5 billion worth of funding will be channeled into improving US ties with partners in the region for the next five years.
- While the act frames a comprehensive strategy for the US in the Asia, it singles out
Indiaas an important military partner with a key role in maintaining peace and stability in the region.
- The act also highlights threats from China, citing the country’s “illegal construction and militarization of artificial features in the South
ChinaSea” as well as its “coercive economic practices.”
The US President Donald Trump signed a number of acts on the last day 2018. A particularly noteworthy one, with respect to India, was the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA). The US Senate passed the act in the first week of December, with the US Congress following suit in the second week.
Under the act, around $1.5 billion worth of funding will be channeled into improving US ties with partners in the region for the next five years. It is likely to put the fears of a US retreat from the region to rest.
While the act frames a comprehensive strategy for the US in the Asia, it singles out India as an important military partner with a key role in maintaining peace and stability in the region. It also calls for a strengthening in trade and diplomatic ties with India and well as increased exchange of military technologies and information.
The US reiterated its commitment to all bilateral pacts signed with India, including the 2012 United States-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative and the 2015 Joint Strategic Vision for the
In September last year, India signed the the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), which facilitates the sharing of military intelligence with the US. Under the pact, India will be given access to a host of technologies like advanced drones and communication platforms.
Of course, since this is an act about the US’s strategy in Asia, China receives significant mention given the government’s fears about China upsetting the current power order in the world.
The act highlights the country’s “illegal construction and militarization of artificial features in the South China Sea” as well as its “coercive economic practices,” the latter referring to China’s trade policies, as threats. In a clause that could prove controversial, it also recommends increasing the sale of arms to Taiwan to help defend it from possible incursions by China.
The Trump administration’s foreign policy stance has largely been transactional -- ‘Help us and we will help you’. It’s no different with respect to India. The ARIA makes it clear that the US requires India’s help to counter China’s influence in Asia if the two are to become better friends.
As 2019 progresses, India will look to the US for a number of concessions, such as the lifting of trade restrictions, a go-ahead for the Chabahar Port project in Iran and an exemption from sanctions for buying a missile shield system from Russia.
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