India should be concerned at China’s growing influence: US Pacific Command chief

New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS) India should be concerned about China’s growing influence in South Asia and its closeness with Pakistan, US Pacific Command chief Harry Harris said on Wednesday.

Admiral Harris also said India and US are working together on improving India’s surveillance capabilities to track what China is doing in the Indian Ocean.

“I believe India should be concerned about the growing Chinese influence…

“Whatever influence China has is influence that India does not have. I think it is important. I think relationship between China and Pakistan is of concern,” he told a group of journalists here.

He added that the growing relationship between China and Bangladesh also presents some concern.

“I believe China’s relationship with Bangladesh is of some concern, as I said before a strong and prosperous China is not in itself a bad thing but when that strength and prosperity is turned into aggression, it becomes a problem for all of us,” he said.

On the Chinese aircraft carrier, which was seen in the South China Sea recently accompanied by other Chinese warships, he said: “In my view there is nothing that will forbid them from sailing in the Indian ocean today.

“The effectiveness of Chinese carrier is a different issue. The Chinese carrier is nowhere comparable to the American carrier… India has far more expertise in operating aircraft carrier than the Chinese.”

Earlier, speaking at the Raisina Dialogue, he said: “I believe the US and India can truly shape the New Normal, indeed must shape it, because I guarantee our adversaries are trying to do so.”

Citing the “significant challenges” posed by “a revanchist Russia and an increasingly assertive China”, he said: “Both Moscow and Beijing have choices to make. They can choose to disregard the rules-based international order or they can contribute to it as responsible stakeholders.

“The US obviously prefers they choose to act responsibly. But I’ve also been loud and clear that we will not allow the shared domains to be closed down unilaterally – no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea,” he said.

“I say this often but it’s worth repeating – we will cooperate where we can and be ready to confront where we must…” he said.

“There are those who question the motives for the increasingly cooperative relationship between the US and India. They say that it’s to balance against and contain China. That’s just simply not true. A Our relationship stands on its own merits.”

About the threats in the region, he cited the IS while expressing concern over growing radicalisation in other countries in Asia.

“Urgently, the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’ is a clear threat that must be destroyed,” he said.

“The main thrust of the 68 nation coalition’s military effort against this group is rightfully in the Middle East and North Africa. But as ISIL is eliminated in these areas, some of the surviving foreign fighters will likely return to the countries from whence they came.A What’s worse is that they’ll be radicalised and weaponised.”

“We’ve seen the beginning of this trend in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. It’s not a theory.it’s real. In the past year alone, ISIL has made its murderous intentions clear in places like Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and the United States.

“It’s clear that ISIL wants to conduct its bloody attacks right here in this country. But so far, ISIL’s plans for operations in India have been thwarted by the diligent work of India’s law enforcement, intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies,” said Harris.

“To halt ISIL’s cancerous spread, like-minded nations in this region and across the globe must continue to work together. Multinational collaboration – partnership with a purpose – is the treatment to prevent this ISIL disease from metastasizing in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” he said.

The Admiral added that ISIL isn’t the only immediate threat in Indo-Asia-Pacific and North Korea stands out as the only nation to have tested nuclear weapons in this century.

“Combining nuclear warheads with ballistic missile technology in the hands of a volatile leader like Kim Jong-un, is a recipe for disaster,” he added.

–IANS

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