Expanding ties with India is priority area for new US House Foreign Relations Committee

Washington, 11 Feb: The newly constituted House Foreign Relations Committee has set its eye on expanding the US-India bilateral relationship, particularly in the defence, economic sectors and counterterrorism efforts and to bolster India’s presence in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
Chaired by Republican Congressman Michael McCaul, the committee adopted a resolution on Wednesday to define its priority and oversight area during the 118th Congress.
Democrat Gregory Meeks is the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“The Committee will review US policy towards India and the continued expansion of bilateral cooperation. Particular attention will be paid to the US-India defence relationship, including security and technology cooperation, opportunities for expanded roles, missions, and capabilities, and counterterrorism efforts,” said the House Foreign Affairs Committee document that was adopted by it on February 8.
“The Committee will also focus on efforts to enhance US-India economic rela-tions, including discuss-ions surrounding bilateral efforts in the technology, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical industries,” it said.
It will also focus on efforts to bolster India’s participation in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue efforts and its presence in the Indo-Pacific region. It will also review the implications of India’s rapidly growing energy demands, the committee said.
The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region, comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.
The US, India and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the resource-rich region.
Observing that it will comprehensively examine US policy towards China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the committee said this will include attention to the CCP’s global malign influence, the Belt and Road Initiative, and global intelligence activities, including the theft of intellectual property.
Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a multi-billion-dollar BRI in 2013 to undertake big infrastructure projects in the world which in turn would also enhance Beijing’s global influence. It aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
The USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which connects Gwadar Port in Balochistan with Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of Xi’s ambitious BRI.
“The Committee will review the multitude of international agreements and treaties the People’s Republic of China has signed, and its violations of such treaties or the inconsistent behaviour of the Chinese government to the obligations in said treaties,” it said.
The Republican majority committee said that it will address the impact of Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine and the US response, in light of the longstanding US refusal to recognise changes in international borders affected by force alone.
“This will include active oversight of the full spectrum of US assistance to Ukraine, working with Ukraine to strengthen anti-corruption institutions and good governance, and engaging with allies and partners to advocate for burden sharing,” it said.
Afghanistan is on top of the priority oversight matters of the committee.
“The Committee will comprehensively review policy, decision-making, planning, and execution related to the August 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan. Particular attention will be paid to the decision to withdraw, the State Department’s planning and coordination with other departments, countries and organisations leading up to the withdrawal, the chaotic and deadly evacuation, the US government’s reaction and actions during the unprecedented evacuation, and the aftermath of the withdrawal,” it said. (PTI)