Nato Plus alarmed over China wants India on board

Fathoming the ever-growing geo-political importance of India, a strong US Congressional China committee has suggested making India a part of NATO Plus group. Nato Plus, or Nato Plus 5, comprises 5 aligned nations – Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, and South Korea – that aim to empower global defence cooperation.

The House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), led by Chairman Mike Gallagher and Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi, pushed hard for India’s inclusion to NATO Plus in order counter China’s supremacy in trade circles and enhance Taiwan’s deterrence.

“Winning the strategic competition with the Chinese Communist Party and ensuring the security of Taiwan demands the United States strengthen ties to our allies and security partners, including India. Including India in NATO Plus security arrangements would build upon the US and India close partnership and deter the aggression of CCP across the Indo- Pacific region, “ the Select Committee requested.

This recommendation has come just a few days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s high- level diplomatic state visit to United States. It is well understood that Biden would be keen to entice Modi to come over board at Nato. Including India as a Nato member would facilitate a seamless intelligence sharing with all the existing members and India would also be able exploit latest military technology available. China is repeatedly bullying the Island Nation Taiwan by disrespecting its borders and the US knows that by getting India in middle of its scheme of things China can be overpowered. United States wants to empower Taiwan with all kind of military assistance and the $1.1 billion arms deal done last year with Taiwan reflected the same.The deal had angered China as the United States termed the pact as a measure to strengthen ties with Taiwan. Another move called the US-Taiwan Initiative of 21st Century trade agreement, a first of its kind trade pact ever since Biden took charge in the US, further drew Uncle Sam closer to the Island Nation.

Indian-American Ramesh Kapoor, who has been working on this proposal for the past six years, wants that the recommendation becomes a part pf the National Defense Authorization Act 2024 and finally end up becoming a law of the land.

The China Committee that recommended inclusion of India to the NATO +5 was recently formed on January 10, 2023. The committee further recommended that economic sanctions against China would be more effective in case of an attack on Taiwan, if key allies such as G7, NATO, NATO +5, and Quad members join, and would negotiate a joint response and broadcasting this message publicly would have an added benefit of enhancing deterrence.

“Much like we do joint contingency planning for war fighting, we need to coordinate in peacetime with US allies. To that end, Congress should pass legislation similar to the STAND with Taiwan Act of 2023 that mandates the development of an economic sanctions package to be employed in the event of a PRC attack on Taiwan,” the proposal further stated.

The committee is also aware of CCP’s economic coercion and wants a law to counter China’s trade supremacy that supports the nations that are under direct impact of China’s unsupportive debt policies. The flip side of economic deterrence is economic engagement with Taiwan.

This is also not the first time United States had looked up to India for help. In July last year, an US Lawmaker Ro Khanna also proposed making India a permanent member of Nato Plus to enhance defence security ties with the United States.

But can this move be as swift as it appears for India? The strategic implications of India joining Nato Plus can be far reaching. Russia is already facing enormous sanctions from Nato and if India becomes a sixth member it can infuriate a long-standing “friend” Russia. China here has already taken full advantage of Russia’s isolation at the world stage and got hold of some major trade agreements with Russia, including a free hand to use the oil reserves. If India becomes a Nato member the good part is the immense technology sharing but it would also fray ties with Russia. We have to understand that Nato members often disagree to policy matters related to China , the Middle East, and Russia, and India might have to follow the suit. Moreover, there would be issues with National Sovereignty if Nato builds bases in India’s territory. The biggest downside for India would be getting involved in various conflicts around the globe that Nato supports and as a member India would have to send its military in wars. Therefore, India should maintain its current foreign policy and refrain from joining Nato in order to protect its autonomy.