US deputy secretary of state William J Burns said here on Friday that the growing interest of his country in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region has nothing to do with the perceived notion about containing the rise of China.
“That is neither our purpose nor the intention,” Burns said while speaking on ‘US-India partnership in an APAC century’ at the University of Pune’s department of management sciences. “We strongly believe that a thriving China is good for China, the US and India,” he added.
“The US approach vis-a-vis APAC is rather guided by an undeniable shared interest in ensuring security, peace and human dignity for all in the region, which is emerging as the epicentre of economic growth and global trade. India can make a decisive contribution to this,” he said.
“The 21st century APAC we seek is one in which India, the US, China & the entire region enjoy good relations,” said Burns, whose short visit to Pune was part of an ongoing tour of India, started early this week. He was accompanied by A Peter Burleigh, the US charge d’affaires in India, and Peter Haas, US consul general in Mumbai.
Burns said the question was not whether US and India were interested in working together in APAC but whether the two countries were doing as much as they could in the region? “I feel we are not doing much yet,” he said, while pointing out the significance of APAC as a key global trade route especially through the Indian and Pacific oceans.
“Half the world’s trade and output happens from the APAC region but the region is also about military build-ups, piracy, trafficking, natural disasters and serious ecological challenges,” he said.
Burns said, “India’s presence in the Indian & Pacific oceans affirms its potential as a security provider in the maritime domain. The oceans are key to India’s security and prosperity, as they are to ours. As we explore future maritime security cooperation, we can build on what we have already begun to do together.”
He said, “Maritime cooperation will improve efforts to counter piracy, maritime awareness, offer assistance & disaster relief. The US commends Indian efforts of deploying naval ships, escorting ships past unsafe waters, stopping pirate attacks.”
Referring to the economic aspects of the US-India relations, Burns said the US views Indian economic engagement with east and south-east Asia with a keen interest in terms of providing linkages that could be a ladder for growth. “Americans look at India and see a pluralistic, multiparty democracy, a place of innovation and openness and a success story. India is an essential part of our vision for an economically integrated Asia-Pacific region,” he said.
“In India, Pune-based companies are now exporting everything from advanced robotics to John Deere tractors and frozen food to the Asian markets,” he said. “The southern India too has emerged as a key economic hub,” he added. “Countries like India and the US – with our belief in innovation and open societies – should be working together,” he added.
Earlier, UoP vice-chancellor Sanjay Chahande said deputy secretary Burns’ visit to the university provides a key landmark in the largely anticipated cooperation between the universities in the US and the UoP