India should not harbor illusions over US intentions

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By Lu Xue

The US Navy on Wednesday announced that it carried out a transit through India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) without requesting India’s prior consent. The US 7th Fleet said that it conducted “freedom of navigation” operations within India’s EEZ. “This freedom of navigation operation upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging India’s excessive maritime claims,” said a statement by the US 7th Fleet Public Affairs.
To secure global hegemony and maintain the expansive operational scope of its navy, Washington has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea yet. Under the banner of “freedom of navigation,” it is common for US warships to trespass into the territorial waters or EEZs of other countries, including China. This is evidently a kind of hegemonic practice. But since both Washington and New Delhi recently have promoted their ties and stepped up cooperation, including in the military, some analysts said their bilateral ties seem to have entered a honeymoon period. Against this backdrop, it is unexpected to see Washington repeat such action toward New Delhi. The Times of India on Saturday reported it as being “a highly unusual move,” saying that “India and the US are having a rare moment of disagreement in their burgeoning defense ties.”
Long Xingchun, president of the Chengdu Institute of World Affairs, told the Global Times on Sunday that US Navy’s move and its corresponding rhetoric mean to deliver a clear message to India: Even though the US has boosted relations with India, the latter still cannot challenge or negate US “freedom of navigation” in the region, or US national interests.
Out of geopolitical causes, such as coping with the so-called threat from China, India has escalated collaboration with the US, but there are still many frictions between the two countries.
From the US perspective, just as Long said, the aim of its frequent wooing of India, especially in the aftermath of proposing its Indo-Pacific Strategy, is to urge India to coordinate with the US’ strategy and serve the national interests of the US, instead of India’s national interests. For India, it hopes to realize its goals more effectively, such as upgrading its international influence and status and playing a bigger role in regional affairs, by virtue of strengthening cooperation with the US.
–The Daily Mail-Global Times news exchange item