See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Politics

Modi’s election win signals closer India-US ties

Modi has tried to cultivate a relationship with US President Donald Trump.

Written by

Updated: May 24, 2019

Political and administrative continuity in India signals closer ties with the United States, said India’s Ambassador to the US, Mr Harsh Shringla, after general election results saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi winning a sweeping mandate for a second five-year term.

“What the mandate indicates is a continuity of… commitment to a strong and close partnership, not only between India and the United States but our partnership in the Indo-Pacific region,” Mr Shringla told journalists on Thursday (May 23). “It will inject a new dynamism… seeing stronger partnership on issues such as security, defence and counter-terrorism.”

Hours later, President Donald Trump tweeted: “Congratulations to Prime Minister @NarendraModi and his BJP party on their BIG election victory! Great things are in store for the US-India partnership with the return of PM Modi at the helm.”

In a paper on May 20, when it was already apparent that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was heading to a win, Dr Ashley Tellis, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote: “Modi remains committed to deepening ties with the United States in order to meet the major challenge posed by China and to advance longstanding Indian ambitions within South Asia and globally.”

This is notwithstanding that there are areas of disagreement over, for instance, US tariffs on Indian goods; President Trump’s threat to end Indian privileges under the Generalised System of Preferences; pressure on New Delhi to end oil imports from Iran; and the risk of a possibly hasty US exit from Afghanistan leaving the Pakistan army-backed Taleban space to claw back to power.

But there have been some successes. In a recent – if largely symbolic – success for New Delhi, the United Nations Security Council on May 1 listed Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leader Masood Azhar as a global terrorist as China dropped its longstanding block on the move.

“The shift in China’s position after a decade-long stalemate can be attributed to… the changing geo-strategic dynamics in the Indo-Pacific region and mounting US-China tensions,” Sujan R. Chinoy, director-general of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis in New Delhi, wrote on May 23.

Though President Trump has yet to visit India, he is known to get on well with Mr Modi. The White House sees India as a natural partner and one end of its strategy for a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

India’s Ministry of External Affairs appointed a joint secretary for Indo-Pacific in April. “We are clearly working with our partners to see how we can take the (Indo-Pacific) idea forward, which means greater cooperation, greater outreach to countries that are part of the Indo-Pacific,” Mr Shringla told The Straits Times. “We believe Asean is central to the Indo-Pacific and we need to work closely with our South-east Asian colleagues and our own neighbours.”

Dr Aparna Pande, a research fellow focusing on India and South Asia at the Hudson Institute, told ST: “I don’t see a problem in the defence relationship (between US and India) because there will be continuity on Indo-Pacific, on the Quad, and on China.” The Quad is an informal security dialogue grouping consisting of Australia, India, Japan and the United States.

Problems will arise when it comes down to details, she said. For instance, the Indian Ocean is more important to India than the Pacific.

Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East are also important. And though India has little option but to stop buying oil from Iran – among the first decisions awaiting the new government – New Delhi would like to continue having access to the strategic Iranian port at Chabahar under a US waiver.

India, however, also struggles to adjust to the quid pro quo style of the Trump administration.

President Trump has pursued a “more transactional approach, attempting to coerce India into complying with US demands on a variety of issues ranging from market access to relations with third countries,” Dr Tellis wrote. This often does not go down well with domestic constituencies in India.

Dr Pande added that  while India may not openly complain about the US, there will  be a part of the Indian administration which will  hedge by,   for example, not openly challenging China  but having a relationship with it.

“Because they don’t believe it (the relationship with the US) is going to be all in India’s favour.”

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Politics

U.S. lawmaker supports Taiwan arms sales

China has protested the sale in strong terms. Representative Michael McCaul, member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on July 14 that the committee approved a recent U.S. arms sales to Taiwan in response to increased Chinese “aggression.” Speaking to Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures, the Texas Congressman, who was one of the lawmakers to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday during her layover in New York, said “Chinese are getting very aggressive in Hong Kong, as you just heard. They are also getting very aggressive in Taiwan.” Green-lighting the arms sale, McCaul said, sends a very strong message to China. “We’re going to arm Taiwan, so she can defend herself from what’s become a very aggressive Chinese Communist Party right on their doorstep,” the Republican told host Maria Bartiromo. The U.S. announced July 8 a US$2.22 billion arms package to Taiwan th

By ANN Members
July 16, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

Hong Kong government blasts riots

Hong Kong police chief blasts Sha Tin violence which leaves six people seriously injured. Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam broke her silence on Monday afternoon (July 15)  to condemn “rioters” and praise police after violent clashes on Sunday night that left two people in critical condition and four in a serious state. Mrs Lam said the police had acted “professionally” and practised “restrain” in dealing with the group of protesters who hung around New Town Plaza shopping mall in Sha Tin, hours after a rally had ended. Speaking to the media at a Tai Po hospital, where six officers are still being treated, she said the police’s duty is to uphold the law and those who broke the law have to be taken to task. “Hong Kong society will not condone such violence,” she added. Secretary for Security John Lee, who also visited the hospital, told reporters

By The Straits Times
July 16, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

S. Korean biz groups in emergency mode

Japan has ban the export of high tech materials to South Korea. South Korea’s major business groups are shifting to emergency mode, setting detailed contingency plans for a variety of scenarios amid concerns that the restrictions on exports of key tech materials from Japan to Korea could stay in place for a long time, according to the industry on Monday. The leaders of the country’s five biggest conglomerates — Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group, LG Group and Lotte Group — are tightening their reins on the groups’ operations, bracing for possible ripple effects on the global economy and business environment as a result of Japan’s decision. Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is spearheading an array of contingency plans. After coming back from a six-day trip to Tokyo last week, Lee convened a meeting with the top brass of the company’s semiconducto

By The Korea Herald
July 16, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

Japan sees decline in value-added trade surplus with Korea

Tokyo’s export curbs to negatively impact global economy due to correlated trade structure. Japan’s trade surplus in value-added goods and services (TiVA) with South Korea took a downturn during the 2005-2015 period, reflecting the diversifying structure of logistics and trade, statistics showed Sunday. In light of the interconnection of the global value chain, the country’s recent curbs on hi-tech exports to Korea are likely to affect not only the two countries but also the regional and global economy in general, Seoul’s government officials noted.\ According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Japan logged $135.2 billion in aggregated TiVA from 2005 to 2015. Its total trade surplus during the same period stood at $303.2 billion. TiVA, in international trade is equivalent to operating profits of corporate business transactions, figuring out the value added by eac

By The Korea Herald
July 15, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

India, Russia discuss joint production of space systems

The two countries met to discuss joint-cooperation projects. India and Russia on Friday discussed the possibilities for the production of space systems in India as part of the ‘Make in India’ programme. Director General of Russia’s ROSCOSMOS and former Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin held detailed high-level talks with National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval on all aspects of the India-Russia space cooperation. Senior representatives of ROSCOSMOS, GLAVCOSMOS, Energia and Energomash were present from the Russian side while the Secretary, Space and the Director of the Human Space Flight Programme were present from the Indian side, besides other senior officials. Both sides agreed to take a strategic approach to elevate bilateral cooperation to the next level keeping in view the special and privileged partnership between the two countries. Cooperation in futuristic technologies, includ

By The Statesman
July 15, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

Hong Kong protests: Chaos speads to Sha Tin mall after rally ends

Protests continue, this time against Chinese vendors. Violent clashes between law enforcers and some protesters erupted yet again on Sunday (July 14) following a largely peaceful march hours earlier in the New Territories town of Sha Tin. About three hours after the rally ended at 5pm, police in riot gear began clearing the streets, setting off a game of cat and mouse with them and protesters trying to corner one another. Tensions peaked at about 9.30pm when officers armed with shields and batons entered New Town Plaza mall in Sha Tin and tried to disperse the crowd that was hiding there, resulting in chaos. Police officers were seen chasing after a protester, hitting him with batons and ripping his clothes off as they tried to pin him down before he managed to flee to safety with help from fellow protesters, who were trying to dodge pepper spray. Elsewhere in the mall, protesters surround

By The Straits Times
July 15, 2019