The US, India and Japan intend to work together on high-standard projects in the Indo-Pacific region “that make economic sense” amidst China’s “predatory” economic behaviour, according to a senior Trump administration diplomat. Initiated by Japan, and supported by the US and India, the three countries are working on projects that can provide an alternative to what the former Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson described as the “predatory” economics of China, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells said.
This approach was opposed to the “predatory” economic behaviour of China that’s creating burden on countries in the region, she told PTI. “We intend to work together and with partner nations in support of high-standard projects that make economic sense, that genuinely benefit the recipient countries, and that can attract private capital so as to lift nations up rather than weigh them down in unsustainable debt,” she said.
Wells, who has been heading the South and Central Asia Bureau of the State Department since June 26, 2017 in the absence of a full-fledged Assistant Secretary of State, recently returned from New Delhi where she participated in a trilateral dialogue involving the US, India and Japan. “As then-Secretary Tillerson noted, countries should not have to take on unsustainable debt in order to build the sorts of crucial infrastructure they need to develop their economies,” she said, while refraining from naming the projects that the three countries are working together on for the region.
The top US official said that the three countries shared the commitment to the principles of sustainable growth, transparency, the rule of law, and a legal and regulatory environment. “The Indo-Pacific strategy recognises that there are both substantial challenges and opportunities in the region and that our partners and allies in the region share our vital interest in upholding the rules-based order,” she said.
The recent US-India-Japan Trilateral Dialogue was a good example of this approach, Wells said. “We addressed efforts to enhance cooperation on regional connectivity and infrastructure, and discussed maritime issues as well as serious security threats such as the DPRK (North Korea) and non-proliferation,” Wells said.
The US and India are working bilaterally, and in cooperation with other like-minded partners like Japan and Australia, to advance their shared vision for the Indo-Pacific, she said. “India is one of our lead security partners in the Indo-Pacific region and a Major Defence Partner—a status unique to India,” Wells said.
“We will continue to work toward stronger strategic ties and a more integrated defence trade relationship that will enhance India’s leadership role in the Indo-Pacific region,” she said. Wells said the US’ bilateral defence cooperation with India had grown “significantly” in recent years.
“The defence sales to India have grown from virtually zero to over USD 15 billion in the last decade,” she said, adding that the Trump Administration was committed to working with India to offer the best platforms and technologies available.