The US is making investments in defence ties with India to uphold a favourable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific, a top Pentagon official told lawmakers Thursday indicating that strengthening ties with New Delhi is one of the key factors to address the pacing challenge from China. “Earlier this month, the US Government launched the inaugural technology initiative with India, including in-depth discussions about opportunities for co-production of major defence platforms,” Ely Ratner, the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a Congressional hearing on China.
“We are making significant investments in our defence ties with India to uphold a favourable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the US has invested in the Quad partnership with India, Australia, and Japan. “We are aligning with like-minded partners around the world to strengthen our shared interests and values – of democracy, openness, and fairness – and to address the challenges posed by the PRC (People’s Republic of China),” she said.
Senator Roger Wicker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that Beijing, for decades, has been active and aggressive in expanding its claims of sovereignty and territory. “In the last 60 years, China almost risked a nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union, fought a war with Vietnam and engaged in multiple bloody skirmishes with India as recently as last month to assert their territorial claim,” he said. It continues to make egregious territorial claims in the South and East China Sea, all in the name of expanding the reach of the Chinese Communist Party, Wicker said.
“Americans saw firsthand President Xi’s disregard for our own sovereignty over the past week, as a Chinese spy balloon violated US airspace uncontested for several days — just the latest in Beijing’s string of provocative actions,” he told his Senatorial colleagues. Congresswoman Young Kim, who serves as Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific, claimed that India and other countries have been the target of surveillance balloons from China.
“The balloon has been shot down, and I thank those who bravely completed the mission. However, many questions remain, and intelligence reports show what we all knew: this was neither a coincidence nor something to be taken lightly,” she said. Kim claimed that the surveillance balloon was part of a larger programme by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that has collected information on military assets in Indo-Pacific countries such as Taiwan, Japan, India and the Philippines.
“We also know this balloon does not even scratch the surface of the CCP’s surveillance capabilities. Millions of Americans are spied on every day through Tik Tok and other state-affiliated applications and technologies. “Whether in air space or cyberspace, we cannot allow the CCP to spy on us. We cannot allow the CCP to threaten our way of life and the American Dream,” Kim added.