China on agenda; but visit not about China, says White House


By Yashwant Raj
Washington, June 24 (IANS) The challenges posed by China to both India and the US were on the agenda for talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden, but the India leader’s state visit was not about China, the White House National Security Council (NSC) Spokesperson said.

John Kirby, the spokesperson, went on to call India an “exporter of security” increasingly and, he added on Friday that the US welcomes that and that would explain to an extent a lot of the deliverables announced by the two sides.

Kirby pushed back to the question if the US was looking at India as a counterweight against China.

“This state visit wasn’t about China and, look India has challenges with China as well, right on their doorstep but also more broadly in the region,” he said in response to a question at the daily White House briefing.

“Clearly, the challenges presented by the PRC (short for China’s official name, the People’s Republic of China) to both our nations were on the agenda yesterday. No question about that. But this wasn’t about leveraging India to be some sort of counterweight.”

Prime Minister Modi and President Biden met and spoke publicly several times on Thursday, but neither of them mentioned China — except when Biden was asked about his comments earlier about the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping — and the joint statement doesn’t name China either. But they did speak about the need to keep the Indo-Pacific region free and open, from coercion and unilateral actions, which, and they did not say it, is usually a barely veiled reference to China.

The NSC spokesperson went on to say: “India is a sovereign, independent state, they have their own foreign policy that they have to manage and they live in a tough neighbourhood.”

“They are becoming an increasing exporter of security, which we welcome, and you can see a lot of our desire to improve the defence cooperation on hand yesterday in some of the deliverables — whether it’s co production of jet engines, whether it’s their purchase of MQ-9 drones, there’s a lot we can do in the security front together, and that’s really what we are focussed on.”

When pressed if the US doesn’t see a role for India in its — America’s — competition with China, Kirby said, “I didn’t say that. I said that we were not viewing India as a counterweight to China and we weren’t approaching the state visit as some sort of messaging opportunity to China.”

“It was about sending a message to the American people and the Indian people about how important this bilateral relationship is, quite frankly, to people around the world.”

The Spokesperson reiterated India has its own challenges with China, which they are tackling “largely on their own”.


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