India and China are in an ambitious game of ‘long-term focus’ as the two countries work towards a “win-win” economic partnership that is likely to last for decades, a former US defence secretary says.
In an interview with The Times Of India, retired Gen James Mattis, who is a member of President Donald Trump’s National Security Council, said the US-India strategic partnership is “trying to be a long-run game”.
The long-standing US-China rivalry has long been an irritant between the two nations, with the two states often arguing about Kashmir and the issue of India-Pakistan territorial disputes.
Mattis, who served as secretary of defence during the Obama administration, said it was in the US interest for India to be more assertive in its own neighbourhood, adding: “The US has made it very clear to India that the US wants India to go after Pakistan.”
Mattis said the strategic relationship between the US and India was “about more than just the two of us”.
He said that India-US relations were also a “great economic partnership”, adding that he had not heard any other US president speak about the economic relationship.
He also said that the relationship between India and the United States had been “very good” and was now a “good partner for us” in the region.
But he warned against a “reversal in US policy” towards India, saying that the “reward” of the strategic partnership with India had not come at a great cost to the US.
Mattis is a former director of the US Strategic Command, a military wing of the Pentagon, and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
He said India had always been a strategic partner of the United Kingdom and the US, and he described the US as a “world power”.
“They have great interests, great energy, great ambition, and they have great friends and partners around the world,” Mattis said.
He added that India had a long history of cooperation with the US on issues ranging from counter-terrorism to climate change.
“They’ve never had any negative relationship with the United Nations,” he said.
“It’s an excellent relationship, a very good partnership.
It’s the only one that I know of in the world.”
Mattises said that he did not think India would have much problem if it did not have a close relationship with China, a strategic rival of the two world powers.
“The China issue is an important one for India.
China is an adversary and a strategic foe of India,” Mattis told The Times.”
But I think it’s an opportunity to make a positive relationship with India that will not have any negative impact on the US.”
Mattresses comments come a day after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke for more than an hour at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey.