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LAC activities opened India's eyes to need for defence ties: US

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Washington, Mar 10: Recent activities along the Line of Actual Control with China have opened India's eyes to what cooperative effort with others might mean for their own defensive needs, a top Pentagon commander told lawmakers on Tuesday observing that New Delhi, in the very near term, will deepen its engagement with the Quad.

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"India has long had an approach called strategic autonomy, you know, a nonaligned approach with others, but I think certainly the activities along the Line of Actual Control with China has opened their eyes to what cooperative effort with others might mean for their own defensive needs," Admiral Phil Davidson, Commander of US Indo-Pacific Command told members of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a Congressional hearing.

"We have provided some information to India in that crisis, cold-weather closing, clothing, some other equipment, some things like that, and over the last several years, we have been deepening our maritime cooperation," he said.

Against backdrop of an increasingly assertive China, Quad meeting to be held this monthAgainst backdrop of an increasingly assertive China, Quad meeting to be held this month

"I think you will see India in the very near term, you know, remain committed to their nonaligned approach, but I think they will deepen their engagement with the Quad, and I think that's a key strategic opportunity for us, Australia, and Japan," Admiral Davidson said.

The admiral was responding to a question from US Senator Angus King.

"That would be a geopolitical major development if India more closely aligned with those other countries," Angus King said responding to the answer from the admiral.

"India has always been a neutral country, if you will. Are we developing a stronger alliance with them? You mentioned them as part of the Quad. Do they consider themselves a member of something of that nature," Angus King asked.

Responding to questions, Admiral Davidson said that China has a vast disinformation machine.

"They use both regular media and social media and have nearly 1 million people in their propaganda machine to undermine US interests, to capture the narrative to their own benefit, and to, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, you know, corrupt the environment in a way that creates doubt amongst our allies and partners in the reliability of the United States," he said.

In response to another question, Admiral Davidson said that China's Belt and Road Initiative actually has a component that is trying to enable smart cities globally where all cyber connections would lead back to China, which the US has to highlight, the threat that it presents to others.

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    "And then we, a whole of government approach, have to be willing to compete in that environment to help the infrastructure and advances in these other cities, even if it's only advice," he said.

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