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Why India Must Keep Aces Up Its Sleeve While Dealing With West

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a busy global schedule over the next few days. First, the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 20 where he will meet US President Joe Biden on the sidelines. Then, in between a stopover in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the island strategically located north of Australia in China’s Indo-Pacific backyard, a series of engagements in Sydney, including a bilateral with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Next month Biden will host Modi for a four-day state visit in Washington, beginning June 22, with a black-tie banquet dinner at the White House thrown in. It’s only the third state visit Biden has hosted for a foreign leader since he took office in January 2021.

What lies behind the US charm offensive? India has to be careful not to be swept off its feet. Washington needs India for three reasons: China, China and China.

The West’s break with China is existential. Economic ties are being loosened. Alternative supply chains are being set up. China will remain the world’s factory for some time to come. But the unravelling has begun.

Beijing’s deepening support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added to the West’s conviction of the economic and security threat China poses to a Western world order. That threat is serious enough for Washington to forgive India for shipping Russian crude to Europe as refined fuel, including diesel, thus evading sanctions.

Europe is less forgiving. This week in Brussels the European Union’s foreign policy chief Joseph Borel said that India should be penalised for avoiding sanctions in this roundabout manner.

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