New Delhi and Washington decided on the fourth and the final leg of the “foundational” understanding between the two countries called BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement).
It has already inked three pacts before, namely, General Security of Military Information Agreement (2002), Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (2016), Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (2018) for better military and logistical cooperation.
Indian Foreign Minister Dr S Jaishankar and Defence minister Rajnath Singh met their US counterparts Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper in New Delhi.
“In our meeting, we shared assessment of the security situation across the Indo Pacific. In that process, we reaffirmed our commitment to peace, stability and prosperity of all countries in this region,” said Singh.
“We also agreed that upholding the rules-based international order, respecting the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the international seas and upholding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states are essential,” Singh added.
Like at the Quad meeting, once again India stayed away from directly addressing China, although, Pompeo again took a jibe. “Our leaders and citizens see with increasing clarity that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is no friend to democracy, rule of law and transparency,” he said.
Under BECA, India and the US will be able to share data including maps, nautical and aeronautical charts, commercial and other unclassified imagery, geodetic, geophysical, geomagnetic and gravity data.
China Hits Back
Global Times (GT), a tabloid under the auspices of the CCP, acknowledged the increased capability and accuracy of Indian weapons amid the China-India border standoff under BECA.
“The US military help that could improve the accuracy of Indian weapons amid the China-India border standoff will make the pulses of some already excited Indian forces beat faster, and India is likely to stir up more and bigger troubles along the China-India border to aggravate the border situation,” it said citing Chinese analysts, noting that some of the troubles may come in the winter.
However, it further said that the pact won’t fill the “military power gap” between India and China and denied any possibility of India defeating China in military conflicts.
It further blamed the US for “provoking” the relations between China and India but further said that India’s rationale behind accepting US’ “patronage” is to win the prolonged standoff with China.
“The US expects India to share statistics and intelligence on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). However, India would not possess a great deal of intelligence about the PLA given that PLA is very capable of camouflage,” the article further said citing another Chinese expert.
The expert also said that with the signing of the BECA, Indian troops would have access to better tactical imagery during battles and they could use more American weapons, but it would be impossible for India to use outside forces to bridge the military gap with China, nor will the BECA give India an advantage in China-India military conflicts.
Pakistan on Tuesday reemphasized its concerns about regional strategic stability being disturbed by the advanced military hardware and technologies shared with India by the US government.
The Pakistan Foreign Office said: “Pakistan has taken note of the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement. Pakistan has been consistently highlighting the threats posed to strategic stability in South Asia as a result of the provision of advanced military hardware, technologies and knowledge to India.”
It added: “India’s massive acquisition of armaments and expansion of its nuclear forces, including the introduction of new destabilising weapon systems, are developments with serious repercussions for peace and stability in South Asia.”
Pakistan experts believe that BECA would provide an American overlay to India’s indigenous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The data made accessible to India under BECA would allegedly assist New Delhi to increase its missile accuracy and precision. It would also allow the US to provide advanced navigational aids and avionics to India in future military aircraft deals.
“The recent unprecedented rate of missile tests conducted by India is yet another manifestation of dangerous Indian conventional and nuclear military build-ups,” the FO said. “These developments clearly negate the argument that India’s mainstreaming in the international export control regimes will further the non-proliferation objectives of these regimes,” the FO maintained.