India has to balance its relationship with China as a simmering border stand-off is distracting New Delhi from making investments in infrastructure to education, according to a lobby representing US business interests in the South Asian country.
(Bloomberg) — India has to balance its relationship with China as a simmering border stand-off is distracting New Delhi from making investments in infrastructure to education, according to a lobby representing US business interests in the South Asian country.
“India needs peace for next 20 years, to develop economically,” said Mukesh Aghi, CEO of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, which laid the groundwork for agreements between the two nations, including co-production of jet engines.
Since 2020, Beijing and New Delhi have positioned thousands of troops and weaponry close to the 3,488 kilometer (2,167 miles) disputed Himalayan border after a clash, the first in four decades, left 20 Indian and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers dead.
At least 18 rounds of border talks and bilateral meetings have made incremental progress and India has linked resolution of the border dispute to restoring normal bilateral relations with Beijing. India is also positioning itself as a bulwark against China’s assertiveness by tying up with the US and its allies for critical technology and hitting back at China by blocking investments at home.
The US is with India for the long haul and is doing what it did for the China in the mid-1980’s, which is encouraging investment, sharing technology, helping the manufacturing base grow, Aghi said. What’s different this time is India will get jet engine technology, which China has yet to perfect, in the next decade, he said.
The two countries are also in the process of dismantling regulatory barriers, some of which were introduced by the US after India carried out a nuclear test in 1998.
At the same time, India is putting a premium on an independent foreign policy, including wanting to maintain a distance with the US, Aghi said.
Opting for French fighters over US-made jets is proof of India is balancing its relationship between US and China, Aghi said in reference to New Delhi’s recent decision co-produce three more submarines with Naval Group of France and buy 26 deck-based Rafale jets.
India is not with the US on several issues but this isn’t a cause of concern in Washington. The growing annual trade with India currently standing at about $200 billion and a million-strong Indian diaspora act as guardrails against any backsliding of the relationship, Aghi said.
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