Don’t write 725 words on Modi-Trump and fail to mention China – Washington Examiner

If you’re going to write 750 scathing words complaining about the close relationship between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump, you might want to make a passing reference to China. China poses a huge threat to U.S.-Indian interests and the need to confront that threat is a fundamental and formative element in the ever-closer relationship between the United States and India.

I note this in light of Sarah Philips’ screed for CNN on Saturday. Leading with the “Howdy Modi” event in Houston, Philips derides Modi and Trump as “two sides of the same coin.” As she sees it, this is a coin defined by authoritarianism, repression, and injustice. Philips suggests that we would be far better off if the American president turned his back on Modi. “It’s shameful,” she says, “to see [Modi] being enthusiastically welcomed.”

I could not disagree more strongly. Again, our adversarial relationship with China explains why. China is now the keystone agent of that which Philips claims to despise most: authoritarianism.

“I’m coming of age,” Philips says, “at a time when fascism and ethnonationalism are on the rise across the world.”

But while Philips rightly observes the shared exclusionary nature of Hindu nationalism and white supremacism, I’m not at all convinced that Trump is a white supremacist. Nor does Modi’s democratic election seem to have created new or greater threats toward India’s ethnic and religious minorities. But she is right about ethnonationalism being on the rise “across the world,” because it’s certainly on the rise in China. Events on the ground, especially in places like Xinjiang and the South China Sea, are showing us China poses the far greater threat to freedom, justice, and economic opportunity — the values that Philips, I, and the vast majority of Americans and Indians care about.

Philips describes how the “South Asian community in Texas is a multi-religious and multi-racial community. We are queer, trans, and gender non-conforming. We are undocumented and working-class people.” Again, by conveniently ignoring China, Philips ignores that those individual identities will perish if China defeats America in the new Cold War. The proof is provided by China’s brutal domination of its citizens in Xinjiang province, solely on the basis of their Islamic faith. It is proven by China’s seizure of vast tracts of international waters. And it is proven by China’s unashamed theft of hundreds of billions of dollars of private property each year. These things pose a far greater threat to the future of “working-class people” than anything Modi and Trump are doing. And America and India must work together with other Indo-Pacific nations if we are to stop China’s victory.

Philips repeatedly attacks Modi’s new establishment of federal authority in Kashmir, but there’s a big difference between a state bringing equal force of law to a territory and China’s throwing of a territory’s inhabitants into concentration camps.

This is not to say that the U.S. and India are automatic best friends. We aren’t on the same page right now on a number of issues, such as market access, visas, and policies toward Iran. But the basic point holds: Don’t write about U.S.-India relations without mentioning China.

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