'A strong India to counter China,' says declassified White House document

Elias Hubbard
January 14, 2021

The White House said, the aim was to communicate to the American people and to our allies and partners about Washington's enduring commitment to keeping the "Indo-Pacific region free and open long into the future".

Classified as "secret" and "not for foreign nationals" by Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger, the paper was declassified by NSA Robert C O'Brien on January 5.

A newly declassified Trump Administration strategy paper has stated that India could counterbalance China in the Indo-Pacific region and notes that the United States should be offering substantive "support" to New Delhi in border and water disputes.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) yesterday said that the strategic framework for the Indo-Pacific contradicts the "solemn promises of the US" regarding its policy toward Taiwan.

With less than a week left for President-Elect Joe Biden to take over, the White House has partially declassified what it calls the "United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific".

The paper on "US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific", defines the goal as ensuring that India remains "pre-eminent in South Asia and takes the leading role in maintaining Indian Ocean security, increases engagement with Southeast Asia, and expands its economic, defence, and diplomatic cooperation with other US allies and partners in the region".

Part of that defense strategy would be to enable "Taiwan to develop an asymmetric defense strategy and capabilities" that would allow the nation to "engage China on its own terms", the report says.

He said the U.S. strategy "highlights the Cold War mentality and military confrontation, which goes against the mutually-beneficial spirit of regional cooperation, runs counter to regional people's aspiration for peace, stability and development, and threatens regional prospects of peace and development".

This US strategy should rightly be thrown into the dustbin of history, Zhao said.

"The US side is obsessed with ganging up, forming small cliques and resorting to despicable means such as wedge-driving, which fully exposed its true face as a trouble-maker undermining regional peace, stability, solidarity and cooperation", Zhao said.

"The US should turn away from an erroneous and risky path that could jeopardize peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and harm China-US relations", he said. Yet one of the biggest criticisms of Mr. Trump's foreign policy has been his hot-and-cold approach to allies, for instance, demanding South Korea pay more to maintain a US military presence there.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory. Asked by State media specifically about its references to "protecting Taiwan and helping India contain China", the Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Beijing, Zhao Lijian, dismissed the framework as "certain politicians on the US side want [ing] to mark their legacy".

Beijing has impeded commercial activity like fishing or mineral exploration by countries like Vietnam and the Philippines, claiming that the ownership of territory belonged to China for hundreds of years.

The US should contend with China's economic practices by building an worldwide consensus that Beijing's industrial and unfair trade politics are detrimental to the global trading system, it says.

Actions recommended by it are to counter Chinese predatory economic practices that freeze out foreign competition, undermine U.S. economic competitiveness, and abet the Chinese Communist Party's aspiration to dominate the 21st century economy.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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