China looms large in US, India geopolitics both in terms of security and economic future: Senators

Lalit K Jha
·4-min read

Washington, Nov 18 (PTI) China looms large in the geopolitics of US and India, both in terms of security and economic future, American Senators said on Wednesday, exuding confidence that the bilateral ties between the world's two largest democracies would move to the next level under the next administration led by President-elect Joe Biden.

Participating in a panel discussion during a webinar titled 'US and India: Post-Election Perspectives' along with Democratic Senator Mark Warner, Republican Senator John Cornyn said both India and US playing by the rules is the great strength of the relationship between the two nations.

'This gives greater predictability and confidence to job creators and investors,' he said, adding that this is one reason why the US and India are continuing to grow closer.

Cornyn and Warner are co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus.

The Texas Senator said the US is concerned about the way China operates because it doesn't by the rules like India does.

'China looms large in our (US and India) geopolitics...both in terms of our security and economic future. We are certainly, as (Senator) Mark (Warner) mentioned the Huawei issue, concerned about the way China operates because it doesn't it doesn't play by the rules like India does,' Cornyn said during the discussion moderated by Richard Verma, former US Ambassador to India.

Senator Warner said there is a rise of authoritarian capitalism in China.

'No American or Indian company alone can compete with Chinese 'national champions' like Huawei. (There is a) real opportunity in Biden administration to develop coalitions with global partners to address these challenges,' he said at the webinar organised by the US India Business Council (USIBC).

“What we've seen is China has this model where they allow ferocious domestic competition until the national champion arises like Huawei. That national champion then gets 75% of the Chinese domestic market and that translates over 20% of the global market.

'Then the Chinese government back that national champion, in the case of Huawei with USD 100 billion. There is no American or Indian company that can compete with that alone,” said Warner, who is also the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The Virginia Senator said there is a growing consensus, both from the Indian government representatives and Indian Americans that India did not want to be seen being on the Chinese side or on the American side.

“We both are nations that operate under rule of law, China does not,” he said, adding that Chinese companies at the end of the day are loyal to the Communist Party and not to their shareholders.

“I think I've seen increasingly from my contacts to Indian government officials, as they know they need to come down on the side of rule of law. I think one of the real opportunities under the Biden administration to create this coalition of the willing amongst democracies, of which India is the largest in the world, where we can have alignment not just around traditional economic issues, but around technology issues as well,” Warner said.

Responding to a question, Cornyn expressed his concerns specifically about the precipitous nature of the planned drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan. “We can just give up our role there without risking the rise of Iranian influence which is already significant in Afghanistan. We need to continue our stabilising presence and also our counterterrorism platforms there,” he said.

Cornyn said he has been sceptical from the beginning about the good faith of the Taliban.

'I don't trust them. I understand the desire to bring our troops home but we also need to have the infrastructure there to protect our other interests, and that's going to require some military presence by the United States government, in cooperation with NATO and our friends,” he said.

Warner said cutting troops in Afghanistan will be a disaster.

“It'll be a disaster to our Afghan partners. It'll be a disaster to the stability of the Afghan government, which we paid with time, treasure and our American lives. It will be a disaster for our 30 plus partners who fought side by side with us and Afghanistan. It should not be dictated by an actual president's political timetable. It is a disaster,” he said.

USIBC president Nisha Desai Biswal said the US-India partnership is one that has been prioritised by both the countries, and one that has advanced by successive administrations and political leaders across the spectrum in the US and in India.

“The potential of this relationship is not just in how we can strengthen and support each other, but as Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has put it in the way that a US-India partnership can tackle global challenges and benefit the global community,” she said, adding that COVID-19 is one such challenge and climate change is another.

Biswal said India has long been a key supporter of a rules based global order and one that invests in and strengthens global institutions.

'An incoming Biden administration that seeks to strengthen international alliances, reform and revitalise international institutions and tackle these challenges will want India by its side,” she said.

USIBC board chairman Vijay Advani said US-India relationship has always enjoyed bipartisan support. PTI LKJ SCY SCY