US ‘planned to assist India’ against China after Doklam

Declassified report says Trump was keen on offering military, intel support

US ‘planned to assist India’ against China after Doklam

Donald Trump

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 12

In a classified document made public after just two years, the US said its Indo-Pacific strategy had a particular focus on India. The objective was to accelerate India’s rise by building a strong defence ties and also by offering diplomatic, military and intelligence support to help address continental challenges, such as the border dispute with China.

Washington’s Indo-Pacific vision in 2018

  • Donald Trump-led US had in 2018 planned to build an alliance with India against China, a year after the Doklam tension between the Asian neighbours
  • The 10-page document explains the need to align the Indo-Pacific strategy of the US with the visions of India, Japan and Australia

In other words, the US had taken a strategic decision to build an alliance with India against China in 2018, when the document was prepared. This happened a year after the India-China confrontation in Doklam and two years before both armies clashed violently in eastern Ladakh in mid-2020.

The 10-page document, which explains the need to align US’ Indo-Pacific strategy with those of Australia, India and Japan, was released surprisingly early rather than after 30 years. Partly redacted, it sets out the Trump administration’s strategy for Indo-Pacific that was developed by the US National Security Council.

The four members of the Quad – India, Australia, Japan and the US – had elevated their discussions to the level of foreign ministers in 2019, a year after the US had prepared the document followed by a second ministerial in Tokyo last year.

The military part of the strategy sets out three aims – (i) deny China sustained air and sea dominance inside the first island chain in a conflict; (ii) defend the first-island-chain nations, including Taiwan; and (iii) dominate all domains outside the first-island-chain.

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