Washington, Feb 4: Asserting that ties with India and China were not a zero-sum game, the United States has said it was strengthening its relations with both as part of its Asia pivot.
“The United States is in the midst of our Asia pivot…and we’re in the process of strengthening our interactions with Asian nations, especially with emerging powers like India and China,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Friday.
“And these are the kinds of ties that are going to set the framework for our engagement with Asia throughout the next century,” he said when asked to comment on a former top US diplomat’s views about India’s strategic importance in American efforts to limit the Chinese influence.
“This is not a zero-sum game,” Toner said even as he noted “We’ve repeatedly from this podium talked about the indispensible partnership with India, and President Obama noted this in his trip in 2010.
“We need strong relations with both countries, and we need all of us working together. There are always going to be matters on which we disagree, but we also have significant areas of common interest.”
Asked to comment on the US intelligence chief James Clapper’s assessment that India and China may engage in a limited conflict, he said: “I’d just reiterate we were committed to strong, constructive relationships with India and with China both.
“And we need to work together, as I just said, if we’re going to solve all the common threats and address all the common challenges that we face,” Toner said.
Asked if the US was concerned about China’s rising military power in the region, he said: “What we’ve called on from China is transparency in the military, in our military relationship with them.”
“We want stronger and stronger military to military ties in our relationship with China,” Toner said. “And again, we’ve often said China shouldn’t view the US as a threat in any way. We need a stronger bilateral relationship; we need stronger regional relationships to promote greater stability.”
In an article in the Boston Globe Friday, former under secretary of State Nicholas Burns, noting India’s strategic importance in American efforts to limit the Chinese influence, suggested the US should include New Delhi in its East Asia policy.