https://www.cfr.org/blog/pandemic-and-c ... ations-nowThe Pandemic and China Are Strengthening U.S.-India Relations, for Now
Blog Post by Guest Blogger for Alyssa Ayres, May 4, 2020
This post is part of an Asia Unbound series of voices from Asia on the COVID-19 crisis, and on its implications for Asia and for Asian views of the United States. The post is authored by Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, distinguished fellow and head of the nuclear and space policy initiative at India’s Observer Research Foundation. She is the author, most recently, of “Toward a Quad-Plus Arrangement?”......
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S.-India relations have shown signs of continued cooperation. Officials of the two countries are in frequent contact, including President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterpart, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. Concerns about China’s growing aggressiveness may be driving New Delhi and Washington closer together. But there are signs of turbulence ahead, and the outcome of the U.S. presidential election and the uncertain path of the pandemic itself make any prognosis tentative at best.
The United States has taken the lead in extending assistance to other countries, including India. According to a Department of State Fact Sheet issued on April 16, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) together have earmarked about $500 million dollars in emergency health, humanitarian, and economic assistance. This is in addition to State Department funding to multilateral and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) actively providing assistance during the pandemic. Washington and New Delhi have great potential for further collaboration. This crisis drives home the importance of ensuring that multilateral agencies remain effective and unbeholden to any one power. India and the United States can work together with their allies to promote neutrality, transparency and accountability in such agencies.
Both countries have a stake in ensuring that they do not cede influence to China in the provision of pandemic relief, especially to smaller countries in the region. The pursuit of influence continues unabated despite the pandemic. China’s missteps such as allowing the pandemic to spread, focusing more on shifting blame than investigating the origins of the virus, using pandemic aid for publicity, and engaging in assertive military behavior toward its smaller neighbors have helped but they only provide an opportunity, not a guarantee, for regional leadership. The United States has stepped up diplomatic consultations for cooperation with a geographically diverse group of countries, which has now been dubbed the Quad-plus because it includes South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand in addition to the original Quad (United States, India, Australia and Japan). The crisis could help generate subsequent strategic cooperation—the original Quad grew out of multilateral cooperation after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.