The Indo-US relationship stands on its own merits, according to a top American commander who said that China is using its military and economic power to “erode” the rules-based international order. “There are those who question the motives for the increasingly cooperative relationship between the US and India. Some have said that it is to contain China. That is simply not true,” Commander of the US Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris said in his address to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Brisbane yesterday.
“The US-India relationship stands on its own merits. That is why I made enhancing our relationship with India a major line of effort when I took command of Pacific Command,” Harris said, a day after the Chinese media raised questions on the increasing relationship between India and the United States.
“The growing US-India relationship has also inspired my thinking about partnerships like our Australian alliance, the US’ deepening cooperation with India is based on shared values and shared concerns. I have spoken about the clear benefits of a ‘democracy quadrilateral’ that enhances security cooperation between Australia, India, Japan, and the US,” Harris said.
China, he said, poses a challenge to the US.
“China is using its military and economic power to erode the rules-based international order.
“I believe the Chinese are building up combat power and positional advantage in an attempt to assert de facto sovereignty over disputed maritime features and spaces in the South China Sea… where they are fundamentally altering the physical and political landscape by creating and militarising man-made bases,” the four star ranked admiral said.
“Fake islands should not be believed by real people,” Harris said, apparently referring to the artificial islands being built by China in the disputed South China Sea.
China claims almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea and Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims.
America’s goal, he said, remains to convince China that its best future comes from peaceful cooperation, meaningful participation in the current rules-based international order, and honouring its international commitments.
“I have also been loud and clear that we won’t allow the shared domains to be closed down unilaterally. So we will cooperate where we can, but remain ready to confront where we must.
“Ultimately, the US seeks a constructive and result- oriented relationship with China. This will benefit America, our allies – especially Australia – and our partners, while pressing China to abide by international rules and norms,” Harris added.