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PM Modi, Pres Joe Biden speak 3 days after Secretary of State spoke to China rep: What transpired and why India needs to wait and watch

While the initial call does hark better relations between India and the USA, it would bode well to be circumspect till actions follow the words by the Biden administration in these two calls.

On the 8th of February 2021, Prime Minister spoke to President Joe Biden for the first time since he got elected to office. Prime Minister Modi on Monday took to Twitter to tweet about the call between him and President Joe Biden.

PM Modi said that he and President Biden are committed to ‘rule-based international order’ and look forward to consolidating the strategic partnership between India and America to further peace and security in the Indo-pacific region and beyond.

In the read-out released by the White House, certain key points of the conversation are highlighted.

Read-out by White House

The read-out by the White House mentions how President Biden and PM Modi spoke about the two nations being committed to working closely to win the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, renew their partnership on climate change, rebuild the global economy in a way that benefits both countries and stand together against the scourge of global terrorism. Further, the call discussed ‘support for freedom of navigation, territorial integrity, and a stronger regional architecture through the Quad’.

The leaders further spoke about upholding democratic values and also, that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld in Burma.

Only three days before PM Modi-Biden call, sharp words were exchanged between Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and People’s Republic of China (PRC) Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi

Only three days ago, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken got on the first call with People’s Republic of China (PRC) Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi.

In a telephone call between new Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the top Chinese foreign policy official Yang Jiechi, who is a member of the Communist Party of China’s Politburo and Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, the Biden administration was rather affirmative in its intention to uphold human rights, including in the province of Xinjiang from where several reports have emerged about the torture being heaped upon Uyghur Muslims.

The read-out released by the US Department of State read:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with People’s Republic of China (PRC) Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi and extended his best wishes for the Lunar New Year. Secretary Blinken stressed the United States will continue to stand up for human rights and democratic values, including in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, and pressed China to join the international community in condemning the military coup in Burma. The Secretary reaffirmed that the United States will work together with its allies and partners in defense of our shared values and interests to hold the PRC accountable for its efforts to threaten stability in the Indo-Pacific, including across the Taiwan Strait, and its undermining of the rules-based international system“.

It is pertinent to note that in the call between Blinken and Jiechi, a strong stand was taken by the Biden administration regarding the human rights violations heaped upon by China even in Tibet and Honk Kong. Another important aspect of the call was the Biden administration asking China to condemn the military coup in Burma. Earlier, the military took power in Burma after arresting political leader Aung San Suu Kyi and hundreds of other lawmakers. The coup leaders have since formed a supreme council which will sit above the cabinet.

Only recently, it was reported that China had blocked UN’s condemnation of the military coup in Burma and thus, the Biden administration taking strong exception to China’s refusal to condemn the coup outlines the stand that the Biden administration could take against China.

An article in South China Morning Post (SCMP) recently wrote that while former President Donald Trump’s administration was proactive in expanding the scope of US-India partnership through economic initiatives, US President Joe Biden’s administration needs to build on this to solidify India’s role as the primary regional balancer in the Indo-Pacific region against China. The article said that India can be the economic balancer in the region by partly absorbing the supply chains moving out of China, which will enhance its economic ability to take on China and serve as an alternative market for Quad nations, that is the US, Japan and Australia. Interestingly, the call between President Biden and Prime Minister Modi specifically spoke about ‘support for freedom of navigation, territorial integrity, and a stronger regional architecture through the Quad’.

Essentially, India is one of the only countries that has stood up against China’s hegemony and it would be an important partner of the Quad in countering the supremacy of China in the Indo-pacific region.

New York Post and Fox News expose on Joe Biden

In an investigative report, the New York Post had asserted that they had accessed material from a damaged Macbook Pro, which revealed that Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, had introduced a businessman from Ukraine to his father while the latter was Vice President of the United States. It is pertinent to note here that Hunter Biden at the time was appointed to the Burisma Board and received a salary of $50,000 per month.

The report had published several documents and mentioned a video that proved that Joe Biden met Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, where the extent of the Biden family’s involvement, and the sacking of a prosecutor, allegedly after pressure from the then VP Biden, is now under scrutiny.

A few days back, reports had suggested that there are chances that Biden had helped his son Hunter using his influence as the VP of the United States in his business in Ukraine. The Biden Camp has categorically denied all the allegations.

Further, Fox News had at the time spoken to a source who was part of the email thread that appeared to portray a payout to Joe Biden himself as part of a deal with CEFC China Energy Co. It reported, “One email, dated May 13, 2017, and obtained by Fox News, includes a discussion of “remuneration packages” for six people in a business deal with a Chinese energy firm. The email appeared to identify Hunter Biden as “Chair / Vice Chair depending on the agreement with CEFC,” in an apparent reference to now-bankrupt CEFC China Energy Co.”

The equity split proposed references “20” for “H” and 10 of which were held by “H” for “the big guy”. Fox News has confirmed from sources that the “big guy” referred here is none other than former Vice President Joe Biden. In another text from Hunter Biden to his daughter that has ben leaked, he can be seen telling her, “I hope you all can do what I did, and pay for everything for this entire family for 30 years and it has been tough. It’s really hard but don’t worry, unlike Pop, I won’t make you give me half your salary.”

Joe Biden bans linking COVID-19 to China

Interestingly, while the initial phone calls between Joe Biden and PM Modi indicate that the US is taking a hardline against China and is looking at India as a regional stabiliser, after assuming office, one of the first things that Joe Biden did was ensuring that the COVID-19 pandemic is not lined to China.

In a memorandum released by the White House, it was written:

Advancing inclusion and belonging for people of all races, national origins, and ethnicities is critical to guaranteeing the safety and security of the American people.  During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric has put Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) persons, families, communities, and businesses at risk.

The Federal Government must recognize that it has played a role in furthering these xenophobic sentiments through the actions of political leaders, including references to the COVID-19 pandemic by the geographic location of its origin.  Such statements have stoked unfounded fears and perpetuated stigma about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and have contributed to increasing rates of bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against AAPI persons.  These actions defied the best practices and guidelines of public health officials and have caused significant harm to AAPI families and communities that must be addressed.

The memo also instructed executive departments and agencies to ensure that official actions, documents and statements “do not exhibit or contribute to racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders”. Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation sent a team of scientists to Wuhan to probe into the origins of the virus which has now spiraled out to infect 100,839,430 and kill 2,167,167 people across the globe.

PM Modi – President Biden call: Conclusion

While the difference in tone taken with India and China is evident from the first calls respectively, it might be too soon to judge what policy the Biden administration would adopt towards China and India. There are several antecedents to show that the Biden administration is considerate towards China, the say the least, and players close to the Biden administration have been recently stoking fire in India.

It is to be recalled that USA VP Kama Harris’ niece has been going on a tirade against India and attempting to interfere in India’s internal matters by allying with Khalistani forces with regards to the farm laws.

While the initial call does hark better relations between India and the USA, it would bode well to be circumspect till actions follow the words by the Biden administration in these two calls.

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