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India Won’t Blindly Follow US In Rivalry With China: Military Veteran

© AFP 2023 SAUL LOEBUS President Joe Biden (R) and China's President Xi Jinping (L).
US President Joe Biden (R) and China's President Xi Jinping (L). - Sputnik India, 1920, 16.11.2023
Amid the rivalry between China and the US, and the Biden-Xi Summit, Sputnik India spoke with an expert about Washington’s attempts to drag India into its rivalry.
India isn’t a part of US global efforts essentially aimed at checking China’s growing influence, an Indian military veteran told Sputnik India on Thursday.

“We are more interested in the area of our own responsibility, which is the Indian Ocean Region (IOR),” stated Major General (retired) Harsha Kakar, a former departmental head at the India’s triservice training institute College of Defence Management (CDM).

Kakar explained that India’s primary goal was to prevent the influence of other countries, particularly those that didn’t share the same strategic thought-process as India’s, from spreading in the IOR.

“If you look at it, the Russian Navy is calling on Bangladesh’s ports in the Bay of Bengal. That is something we welcome because we prefer Russian presence in the region. But we don’t want China taking a base in Bangladesh, Myanmar or maybe Sri Lanka. A Chinese base in the neighbourhood would be a matter of concern for India,” he noted, adding that New Delhi has on previous occasions formally raised concerns over the port calls by Chinese research vessels at Sri Lankan ports.

Kakar differentiated India’s military policy towards the South China Sea with that of the US, noting that New Delhi wasn’t directly involved in the region as the NATO allies.
“The Indian Navy doesn’t carry out patrols or Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) the way the US or some of its NATO allies do in the South China Sea. We only exercise in the South China Sea with our ASEAN partners, or countries which are part of the region,” he underlined.
Kakar stressed on the point that India’s ongoing border dispute with China in the western sector of Line of Actual Control (LAC) is going to remain a bilateral dispute between the two Asian neighbours.
“We are capable of handling our own dispute with China. That’s very evident and its very clear. We don’t expect anything from the US in case of an escalation at the LAC, except some possible intelligence support,” the defence veteran asserted.
Since the Ladakh standoff began in April-May 2020, New Delhi has rejected offers of mediation from former US President Donald Trump. New Delhi has told the US that the dispute would be solved through bilateral means between the two neighbours.

‘Biden-Xi Summit Won’t Alter the Indo-Pacific Situation’

The comments by the Indian military veteran came amid the summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden at the Filoli estate, located on the outskirts of San Francisco, the US.
Both the leaders called for managing the relationship responsibly amid growing disagreements on major strategic and economic issues.
Xi told Biden that turning their backs on each other wasn’t an option for the US and China.
"It is unrealistic for one side to remodel the other, and conflict and confrontation has unbearable consequences for both sides,” the Chinese President cautioned.
According to readouts of the meeting issued by the White House and the Chinese foreign ministry, both the leaders agreed to resume high-level military-to-military communication, the China-U.S. Defense Policy Coordination Talks and the China-U.S. Military Maritime Consultative Agreement meetings as means to spread any issue from spiralling into a major confrontation.
These agreements were reached amid growing instances of maritime encounters between the Philippines, a US treaty ally, and the Chinese Coast Guard in the South China Sea. In recent months, vessels of US Navy and other western allies have also sailed tantalizingly close to the PLA Navy in the South China Sea.
Kakar, however, contended that the understanding on re-establishing a direct hotline between Xi and Biden won’t alter the situation in Indo-Pacific in any significant way.
The strategic affairs expert noted that disagreements over major issues such as Taiwan continued to persist.
Xi told Biden that Beijing would “realize re-unification with Taiwan”, which was “unstoppable”. Biden, however, said that the US was opposed to the use of force to change the status quo in cross-Strait relations.

Summit Shows that US Facing ‘Increasing Competition’ from Other Global Players

Kakar noted that the US was facing “increasing competition” from other emerging nations and groupings such as BRICS, which indicated that a multipolar world order was round the corner or has already emerged.
“The US is still strong enough to have its own sphere of influence, while China believes that the US shouldn’t intervene in Asia-Pacific, which Beijing considers its sphere of interest,” Kakar remarked, adding that Beijing was already of the view that the world had entered a “bipolar phase” with the US and itself being the major world powers.
“Nations which are strong enough in the current world order, including India, Russia or Saudi Arabia for that matter, have their own regions of influence,” he asserted.
He said that India was firmly backed a “multipolar world order”.

“That is the way multipolarity is going to work. You have groups of nations with common interests which are being formed. You have groupings such as BRICS dominating the Global South. So, multipolarity is here to stay,” predicted Kakar.

“But, I also believe that multipolarity is going to function in a bipolar global order which currently seems to have emerged,” the expert concluded.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a State Dinner with President Joe Biden - Sputnik India, 1920, 10.11.2023
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