The Trump administration is seeking to boost arms sales to India following deadly clashes between Chinese and Indian soldiers, Foreign Policy reported on Tuesday.
India reported 20 soldiers killed and dozens injured in fights with their Chinese counterparts in a border region in the Himalayan Mountains. The soldiers fought with clubs wrapped in barbed wire, rocks, and their bare hands, because treaties between the two nations prohibit soldiers along the border from carrying firearms.
While India has maintained a strategy of non-alignment with major powers since the middle of the Cold War, the Trump administration is seeking to deepen the U.S.-India relationship, several U.S. officials told Foreign Policy.
“They’re going to want to provide India with armed [MQ-1] Predator” drones, which can carry over 1,000 tons of explosives, a congressional aide said. However, the aide added, “Their decision-making process on weapons acquisition is positively baroque. It’s very difficult in their system to get to a final and firm yes.”
Indian officials are also extremely reluctant to end their doctrine of non-alignment.
“China may have its own issues and problems with the U.S.,” Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told the Times of India on Sunday. “But to view us through an American lens would be a serious misreading of India. And clearly do the relationship great disservice.”
Following the clashes with China, Indians protested throughout the country and called to boycott Chinese goods. India banned 59 Chinese apps at the end of June, including the popular app TikTok, citing security issues with the technology.