Obama hails ‘new era’ for US-India ties

By Hu Qingyun Source:Global Times Published: 2015-1-27 0:53:01

New Delhi unlikely to align with Washington: experts

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) talks with US President Barack Obama while watching the fly-past during India's Republic Day parade on Rajpath in New Delhi on Monday. Russian media pointed out the fighter jets in the air were Rusia-made Su-30. Photo: AFP

India and the US have signaled a "new era" in their relations after President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a number of new deals as Obama was the guest of honor at India's Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi Monday.

While some say the US intends to use India as a wedge to contain China, most experts agree that New Delhi will not take sides.

Obama is the first US president to attend India's Republic Day parade after accepting an invitation that is one of the biggest honors a country can bestow on a foreign leader.

Obama, who has visited India twice after taking office in 2009, a first for a sitting president, signed a breakthrough deal in a long-stalled nuclear pact with Modi on Sunday during his three-day visit to the country.

"Deeper ties with India will be America's top foreign policy priority," Obama said at a joint press conference with Modi.

Obama also expressed US support for India in its bid for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.

Stressing that both India and the US are committed to working together to address common interests in the Asia-Pacific, Obama said that the two sides "will jointly develop defense technologies."

"Obama's strategy is quite clear. He wants to split the relations between China and India, as well as India and Russia, in an effort to fulfill his strategy of a "re-balance" in Asia," Zhou Fangyin, a professor at the Guangdong Research Institute for International Strategies told the Global Times. 

The US is courting India to become an ally in South Asia to contain China by supporting economic and military development, Zhao said.

Obama and Modi emerged from their talks on Sunday with a 10-year framework for defense ties and deals on cooperation that included the joint production of drone aircraft and equipment for Lockheed Martin Corp's C-130 military transport plane.

Other deals ranged from an Obama-Modi hotline - India's first at a leadership level - to financing initiatives aimed at helping India use renewable energy to lower carbon intensity.

"Obama keeps pushing India to boost ties with US in coalition to counter the so-called 'China threat' as the US has already become frustrated with the slow pace of New Delhi's economic reforms and unwillingness to side with Washington in international affairs," Zhao said.

However, analysts agreed that India is not likely become an ally of the US as it follows its long-standing nonaligned diplomatic strategy.

"Moreover, boosting the economy is Modi's top priority and he knows he needs China to boost the economy in terms of investment and technology," Zhao said.

Fu Xiaoqiang, a research fellow from the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, echoed Zhao.

"India always wants to play a more important role in international affairs, for which it needs US support. But the government knows that a coalition with the US could be problematic for Sino-India relations," Fu said.

Zhao added that Modi is taking advantage of the differences between various global powers. "Modi inked many economic cooperation deals with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited the country in September [2014], so it is impractical to become US ally to contain China," he noted.

Twelve agreements were signed during Xi's India visit, including a Chinese commitment to invest $20 billion in India in the next five years.

A commentary from the Xinhua News Agency on Monday noted that Sino-Indian relations are not expected to be "significantly" impacted by Obama's visit. 

"The ongoing Obama trip in India may succeed in propelling the US-India relationship forward, it could hardly change the ground reality that India also needs China as a crucial cooperation partner," the commentary read.

Xi sent congratulatory messages to his Indian counterparts on Monday, pledging closer ties between the two neighbors. China is willing to make concerted efforts with India to lift their strategic cooperative partnership oriented to peace and prosperity to a higher level, Xi said

China hopes the development of US-India relations can promote mutual trust and cooperation between countries in the region as well as benefit regional stability and prosperity, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a media briefing on Monday.

Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow with the Institute of International Relations at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that Modi, unlike former Indian leaders, often "unconsciously" sides with the US in international affairs because he is eager to demonstrate the "important role" of India as one of his  achievements.

"He might be somehow carried away by Obama's promise [of a UN seat]. But he should realize that Sino-Indian relations should be more important and the two countries have many chances to cooperate in the economy and maintaining regional stability," Hu said. 

He said it is unlikely US-India relations will see a breakthrough any time soon, and Obama's visit is more symbolic than making any real impacts.

Agencies contributes to this story


blog comments powered by Disqus