In a huge boost for the BJP-led NDA government, US President Donald Trump, during a speech in Vietnam, showered praise on India’s “astounding” economic growth and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he (PM Modi) has been working successfully to bring the vast country and its people together. The praise shows that the US now views India as a major reliable partner on the global stage to counter China’s military and economic rise.
According to some reports, while praising India the US president attacked China, saying that Beijing’s trade practices have kicked Americans out of jobs. He also put out a warning that the US would not “turn a blind eye” to trade abuses. Ironically, his criticism comes right after his visit to China.
Speaking at a gathering of CEOs on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at Da Nang in Vietnam, President Trump was quoted by news agency reports from there as saying, “Since India opened its economy, it has achieved astounding growth and a new world of opportunities for its expanding middle class. And Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has been working to bring that vast country and all of its people as one. And he has been working at it very successfully indeed.”
The US President also pointed out that India was celebrating the 70th anniversary of its independence and highlighted that the country was a sovereign democracy with a population of 1.3 billion as well as the largest democracy in the world.
Incidentally, Mr Modi is leaving for the Philippines on Sunday to attend the Asean-India and East Asia summits on November 14. Mr Trump is also scheduled to attend the East Asia summit, a key meeting between Asean and eight of its partners. Mr Modi and President Trump are expected to meet on the sidelines in a bilateral meeting.
On the Asia-Pacific region which the US is now referring to increasingly as the “Indo-Pacific” region following growing strategic ties with India, President Trump was quoted as saying, “We have been friends, partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific for a long, long time. The story of this region in recent decades is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.”
The use of the term Indo-Pacific by President Trump has also led to speculation that it may have something to do with Washington preparing the ground for a Japanese proposal on a “Quadrilateral” strategic alliance between the US, Japan, Australia and India which is apparently being put together to counter China’s rise.
China has reportedly reacted cautiously over a proposal by the Trump administration for a working-level quadrilateral meeting with India, Japan and Australia, saying Beijing hopes that it would not target or damage a “third party’s interest”.
In his address, Mr Trump also praised countries like Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Japan, and also briefly touched on the bloody history of the Vietnam war, in which Da Nang was a key battlefield. “Today we are no longer enemies, we are friends,” Mr Trump said.