India and the US should practice cooperating with China wherever they can as this will create the goodwill that makes crises easier to work out, suggests former US State Department official Anja Manuel.
In her new book “This Brave New World: India, China and the United States”, published by Simon and Schuster, Manuel stresses on bringing China and India along as partners rather than alienating one or both.
“We should find joint projects together that help us all, such as the civil nuclear agreement between the US and India I had a small part in negotiating, or the climate change agreement China and US announced in December 2014.
“The civilian nuclear talks, for example, were difficult for both countries, but they taught us how to work closely together and helped unlock new cooperation in defence, counter-terrorism and other topics. It would be great for India and China to find a cooperative project,” she told PTI in an interview.
Manuel is co-founder and partner with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and former Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, in RiceHadleyGates LLC, a strategic consulting firm which assists CEOs and senior executives of major US companies to expand their business and meet regulatory challenges in key emerging markets such as China, India, Africa and the Middle East.
She says India and the US are closer partners than ever and this should be welcomed, adding, “However, we must continue to hold out an open hand to China as well because creating two hostile camps in Asia is in no one’s interest.”
According to the Manuel, India and the US should both be clear with Beijing about where their lines are and enforce them consistently.
“The US is not always perfect at this, and it would be helpful to have our partners – such as India and Australia – help us. For example, the US should never have stopped our freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea, as it did for several years before recently restarting them. We should make these multilateral whenever possible. “India could be helpful by also making clear to China, Vietnam, the Philippines and others that land-grabs by any country are inappropriate. India could also, for example, help the international community keep the pressure to stop Chinese industrial cyber-spying,” she argues.
She also suggests companies from all three countries should continue to engage each other.
“Some Chinese companies are actively ‘making in India’, Indian technology firms are bringing their known-how to China, and US companies are helping China with clean energy or providing care for China’s graying population – all while supporting good jobs in each of our home markets. All of us can invite Chinese students to our homes, travel there, and engage as much as possible to increase our limited knowledge of each other and end the distrust.”
Manuel thinks apprehension about China has brought India and the US closer.
“Ten years ago when I was serving in the US State Department, when we spoke to our Indian counterparts about China the country was less on their radar. I think that has changed over the last few years as China has become more assertive and radiated its power south into your traditional sphere of influence.
“When I speak to Indian officials, they see China similar to how we in the US see it: First, it is a very important economic relationship, and everyone wants to maintain positive relations with China. However, for the US, China’s cyber-stealing of industrial secrets, its promotion of national champion companies and its increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea sometimes makes relations difficult,” she says.
For India, she says, it is China’s military incursions in the Himalayas, their submarines cruising around in the Indian Ocean, and the “string of pearls.”
“So part of the new alignment between India and the US is because both are looking over one shoulder at Beijing. This is a positive development, but we must ensure that we are clear and consistent with Beijing about where the lines are, but that we also make a real effort to cooperate closely with them – to avoid making China feel more surrounded and isolated,” she argues. On the NDA government’s US policy as, she says Prime Minister Narendra Modi has clearly made the relationship with the US a priority, and President Barack Obama is following suit.
“On June 8th, Prime Minister Modi was invited and addressed a joint session of the US Congress. This is an honour that is accorded to very few foreign leaders, and an example of just how far our relations have come. President Xi Jinping, for example, was not invited to address Congress when he was in the US for a state visit in September 2015,” she says.
The invitation, according to her, is a potent reminder of the robust and growing ties between Washington and New Delhi, and how much support there is for the partnership with India not just in the White House, but in Congress, and also in the US business community and general public.
Asked whether there were issues on which she felt the US was underestimating the importance of India, Manuel says, “Climate change is one important example. As you know, the US is the world’s second largest emitter of carbon (after China) and India is one of its fastest growing. We will get nowhere by lecturing each other.
“Incentive based schemes, such as the US-India civilian nuclear deal that will help provide carbon-free energy to electricity-starved India, the recent US-Chinese agreement to combat climate change, and private sector cooperation on clean energy technologies will help all three countries make the right choices, for everyone’s benefit.”
On the strong language used by US presidential aspirants, she says, “Donald Trump has been quite outspoken and has made China a scapegoat for the difficulties facing our middle class and manufacturing workers in the US. Yet launching a new Cold War with China is in no one’s interest.”
She says that with subtle, thoughtful policies by India and the US in particular “we can ensure that trade continues among all three economic giants, we cooperate on many issues that affect us all – such as climate change – and military tensions are kept in check.”