Just a week before the US elections 2020, the Trump administration made a smart move by sending the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Chief Mark Esper to Asia. They have made multi-country visits in the Indo-Pacific region to give an intelligible Anti-China message to the world.
Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper met with their Indian counterparts Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and the External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on 26th October 2020. The representatives of India and the USA signed a total of five agreements in their 2+2 ministerial dialogue, but the most interesting out of the five agreements has to be the BECA agreement. BECA is an abbreviation for the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement.
The BECA will help its signatories to share high-end military technology, classified satellite data, and critical information. It is going to assist India in getting real-time access to American geospatial intelligence that will enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones. India will also be acquiring access to topographical and aeronautical data and advanced products, which will abet in navigation and targeting through the sharing of information on maps and satellite images.
BECA is going to be crucial for India because of the military aspects linked with it, and a military magnification is what India needs the most right now. The newly signed agreement will give a better Air Force-To-Air Force cooperation between India and the USA. Briefly stating, BECA will provide Indian military systems with a high-quality GPS to navigate missiles with real-time intelligence to precisely target the adversary.
This agreement has come off as the latest link in the series of US-India military agreements in order to counter China’s increasing impact in the region. In this anti-China strategic visit, Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper also met with the Indian PM Narendra Modi and talked through Covid-19 response, security and defence cooperation, and shared interests in the Indo-Pacific region. These shared interests included curbing the growing Chinese influence in this region.
This visit has come at the time of rising tensions between China and India after their border tensions rose in May 2020. Violence had broken out between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Tussles have only sparked between both countries ever since. The visit to Pompeo is very important for India because it is in dire need of some might support. India is also at scuffle with Pakistan over the Kashmir conflict which has intensified after the revoking of Article 370 in August 2019. Since China-Pakistan relationships have strengthened in the past few years, and China and India’s relationships have aggravated, USA’s support has come at a very crucial time for India and will prove quite beneficial.
For the USA, the visit has been as equally important as it has been for India. Pompeo’s latest statements in the QUAD group meeting that took place in early October 2020 were also a direct message to China from the USA. He had called upon Australia, Japan and India to cooperate strategically with the USA in order to reduce China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. The USA has been making efforts to maintain its unipolarity, and curbing China is one of its topmost priorities in this context since China is the greatest threat to the USA’s hegemony right now.
Besides, Pompeo visited Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia, where he called on all countries to end China’s adventurism, as evidenced by loans and development projects that benefit China more than the desired beneficiaries. The Chinese embassy in Sri Lanka condemned Pompeo’s visit to the island even before his arrival, blaming a senior US official’s warning that the country should be cautious of Chinese investment. The Chinese embassy announced that the warning was a clear violation of diplomatic protocol, and also condemned the United States for sending Pompeo on a 24-hour visit, a burdensome visit for the country at the centre of the coronavirus epidemic.
The latest military agreements between India and the USA are being seen as a possible threat to the Chinese hegemony in the Indo-Pacific region. China is already losing support and cooperation from the countries which are in conflict with China over the South China Sea. Pompeo’s visit has given an even graver threat to China that China has a long way to go before it can dominate the regional politics.