Eyeing China, Clinton urges India to take leader role

CHENNAI, July 20, 2011 (AFP) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged India on Wednesday to be more assertive in Asia, reflecting US desire for New Delhi to emerge as a counter-weight to Chinese power. Speaking in the Indian city of Chennai — a southern trading port looking out towards east Asia — Clinton argued that India needed to play a bolder leadership role in building security and prosperity in the region.

“India’s leadership has the potential to positively shape the future of the Asia-Pacific… and we encourage you not just to look east, but continue to engage and act east as well,” she said in Chennai.

Washington has actively courted India, regarding the country as a natural ally because of the two countries’ shared belief in democracy, human rights and market-oriented economic policies.

“This is not a time when any of us can afford to look inward at the expense of looking outward,” she added. “This is a time to seize the emerging opportunities of the 21st century. This is a time to lead.”

China, militarily and economically superior to India, is Asia’s dominant power and has been spreading its influence into India’s immediate neighbourhood, notably in Sri Lanka and Nepal.