On Trump’s Offer to Mediate Between India and China

The Print’s daily roundtable TalkPoint posed a question connected to the US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between India and China over the “raging border dispute”Does Trump help or harm India’s interests when he offers to mediate with China, Pakistan?

My response:

US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate is a needless distraction in the grand scheme of things.

Assessing what the US foreign policy would be like based on Trump’s offer to mediate on Twitter is a risky exercise. Often, there is a considerable gap between the two, like in the case of Afghanistan.

Officially, the White House released a report on 20 May that said in no uncertain terms that Beijing “flouts its commitments to its neighbours by engaging in provocative and coercive military and paramilitary activities in the Yellow Sea, the East and South China Seas, the Taiwan Strait, and Sino-Indian border areas.” We can only guess whether Trump’s latest offer to mediate follows as a result of this understanding.

Nevertheless, India’s position on such offers has been consistent — it intends to solve such disputes bilaterally and not through third party mediation. China is not likely to accept any such offers of mediation either. Hence, it would help the Indian and American interests both, a lot more if the US and India work together to build capacity to resist Beijing’s coercive and arrogant approach to border disputes.

The case with Pakistan is also similar. The border dispute there is just one issue in a consistently strained India-Pakistan relationship. In fact, the US support to the Pakistani military-jihadi complex over the years has made this problem even more difficult. Here again, it would help the Indian and the US interests a lot more if the US adopts an overall strategic stance that sees Pakistan as a part of the problem.

You can read the full conversation on ThePrint.in here.