Congressman Ro Khanna / Image-Khanna.gov
Congressman Ro Khanna, D-CA., appeared on Hugh Hewitt’s radio talk show where he talked about his recent trip to India, the U.S.-India defence partnership, his opinion on India’s stance on Russia’s Ukraine invasion, and the relationship with India in dealing with America’s two adversaries – Russia and China.
Early on in the conversation, Hewitt and Khanna spoke about the latter’s recent trip to India where he led a bipartisan Congressional delegation. “The trip was to strengthen the US-India strategic relationship, which is going to be one of the most important defining relationships of the 21st century,” Khanna said. He spoke about the collaborative efforts of the Indian Army and Navy with the U.S. Navy to ensure there is freedom of the seas in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.
“We talked about the importance of cooperation at the Indian border where they have faced aggression from China in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. We discussed the importance of collaboration to deny China hegemony in Asia and the growing defence in economic partnership,” Khanna added.
The Congressman acknowledged India’s role in growing the U.S. economy, creating jobs, and generating income for Americans. He also highlighted the trade deficit with China, saying that it is not just the U.S. but India, Japan, and all of the Asian neighbours who are at a trade deficit with China. “There is a large concern not just about China’s military potential aggression but also the unfair economic terms that China has been playing with, not just with us but with other countries in Asia.”
Hewitt then touched upon India’s “standoffish” approach to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and asked if Khanna discussed it during his visit. India is considered one of the most influential nations to have remained neutral on the Russia-Ukraine situation since the countries went to war in February 2022. Khanna said India’s approach to the war, and their dependence on Russia for arms was discussed in a two-hour meeting with India’s Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar.
“Now when we pressed the matter with Minister Jaishankar, he said look, America stopped supplying us with arms in 1965. We did that because President Nixon needed Pakistan to normalize relations with China. In that historical context you can understand why the U.S. wanted to normalize relations with China to be able to counter the Soviet Union and (Henry) Kissinger and (Richard) Nixon made that decision.”
Khanna noted that India had to rely on Russia to protect itself against China and Pakistan. “That was almost a 40-year history. Now we're building the defence relationship, but he said, you can't expect a switch overnight. They want to switch. They understand our stuff is better and we need to work with that," he said.
Khanna also told Hewitt that India shares its concern about China’s increased aggression in the South China Sea. “They are concerned about the freedom of navigation of the seas. They are concerned about using potential military force to coerce Taiwan and other islands and other navigation in the seas,” Khanna said.
The Congressman said that the relationship with India is “critical” in dealing with America’s two adversaries – Russia and China. Khanna expects India to present a two-front concern against China by being aggressive at the Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh border. “They have to worry about the border Line of Control (LoC) with India and not just put all of their resources in the potential invasion of Taiwan and deterring the freedom of the seas. So understanding what our Indian partners are willing to do, not willing to do, and where we can deter China is going to be critical to having a coherent foreign policy.”