On Thursday, during his official visit to the United States, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a joint sitting of Congress.
The United States has tried to woo India as an ally in its fight against the Chinese Communist Party throughout the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations. Under Modi’s watch, the United States officially welcomed India into the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a naval security forum including Japan and Australia. India’s Modi said Congress is committed to an open, inclusive, free Indo-Pacific.
Modi outlined India’s regional goals, which include ‘all nations being free in their choices, with progress not suffocated by the burdens of debt,’ a reference to China’s policy of offering countries large loans to pay for Chinese-run infrastructure investment programs, which China then refinances with conditions on use of the countries are unable to repay the loans. Debt-trap diplomacy is another term that has been used to describe this strategy.
As Modi put it, India’s vision does not contain or exclude, suggesting that China’s expansion would be unimpeded if it complied with regulations that secure the seas, upheld by international law, free from domination, and anchored in ASEAN.
Modi’s allusion to international law refers to China’s extraterritorial claims in the South China Sea and its defiance of international legal judgments against it under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The rise of China as a global power has resulted in considerable strengthening of ties between India and the United States. The United States views India’s long-standing historical rivalry with Beijing as an essential counterweight to China’s rising influence. India and China have a contentious border dispute over two territories: Aksai-Chin in the northwest and Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast.
Defense purchase was another topic covered by Modi; India is a big buyer of American weaponry as a deterrent against the People’s Liberation Army of China. Biden and Modi unveiled new defense agreements at a news conference held earlier on Thursday.
On the final night of his five-day official tour, President Joe Biden will throw a state banquet for Modi. A White House Pool report states that Modi and Biden shared a private dinner with their respective national security advisors on Thursday night, further emphasizing the importance of security policy and China in the context of the visit.