I. The Big Story: China and India Tensions
The US National Security Advisor declassified the US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific document over 20 years ahead of schedule, as the text was not due for public release until 2043. There are no major surprises for India, and it has been viewed as a major partner in the region to balance against China’s rise. “A strong India, in cooperation with like-minded countries, would act as a counterbalance to China,” reads the document. Notably, the document uses the word partner and not ally, which would be more than comforting for many in New Delhi. “India is the US’s preferred security partner, and two can cooperate to preserve maritime security and counter Chinese interest in South and Southeast Asia,” reads the document. The actions planned were to “support India – through diplomatic, military, and intelligence channels – to help address continental challenges such as the border dispute with China and access to water, including the Brahmaputra and other rivers facing diversion by China”. The US could be reassuring its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region regarding the upcoming Biden administration’s policies towards China as continuity rather than a change, by making this document public.