A top US lawmaker has cautioned India against "compromised" Chinese elements in technology it may have imported from Russia in view of growing ties between Moscow and Beijing.
"We don't want to be in a situation where for some reason, the Russians somehow have given technology that's compromised by the CCP to India or others that could be taken advantage of by the CCP," said Raja Krishnamoorthi, the top Democrat and the ranking member of the newly established House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the US and the Communist Party of China (CCP), in an interview.
"I think there's just a very detailed conversation that's probably happening and should happen between our governments with regard to a whole range of technology now that we believe that it's critical to our collective security," he added.
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The compromised parts could give the Chinese a window into the Indian defence systems, and/or into American hardware being used by Indians.
As India and the US have deepened and broadened defence cooperation, with Indian purchases of American military hardware at an all-time high, Washington DC has had concerns that its sensitive-technology military hardware sold to India can be accessed by Russia through their equipment that flood Indian armories. This has been cited as a chief concern by Americans as they press India, without success, to cancel its order of the Russian S-400 air missile defence system. They also say that the presence of Russian equipment impeded interoperability between the militaries of India and the US.
Asked about India's ties with Russia, the lawmaker, who was born in New Delhi and came to the US when he was three, said, "I understand the historical ties between the Indians and the Russians. And I also understand the practical nature of the relationship. I hope that over time, the US can prove to be a reliable source of security equipment. But also, we can deepen our ties so that the Indians aren't as dependent on the Russians for certain critical items."
India has indeed been diversifying military purchases in recent years and it has substantially cut dependence on Russia and the US has been among the countries that are rushing in to fill that space, along with others, by, among other things, upgrading India's access to sensitive technology at par with close allies.
Americans have publicly urged India to review ties with Russia in view of this growing proximity. "I do think that the CCP and the Russians have entered into a rather unholy relationship right now with regard to Ukraine with regard to other matters that I don't think are in the best long term interests. of the world," said Krishnamoorthi, who had earlier served on the House Permanent Select Committee that oversees the work of America's 17 intelligence agencies.
Ties between Russia and China have grown dramatically close in recent times, specially 2022, when Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping declared their relationship has "no limits". The two countries said in a joint statement after their meeting in February 2022, "The new inter-state relations between Russia and China are superior to political and military alliances of the Cold War era. Friendship between the two States has no limits, there are no 'forbidden' areas of cooperation."
Congressman Krishnamoorthi is a rising star in the Democratic party and he breaks new ground as the lead Democrat on the China committee - over the claims of other Democrats.
"I'm honoured to be the first Indian American to ever lead either Democrats or Republicans on any select committee or standing committee in Congress," he said, adding, "I'm honoured to have the opportunity to to work on this particular assignment. I think leader (Hakeem) Jeffries (the top Democrat in the House of Representatives and Minority Leader) is to be strongly commended for the new voices that he's bringing to leadership and the discussion of these critical issues in this Congress - makes him the first Indian American ever to lead a standing or a select committee for both Democrats and Republicans."
This panel - variously called the China Committee and the tough-on China committee - was set up by this new Republican-led House in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote by Republicans and Democrats. Republican Mike Gallagher, a China hawk, is the chairman.
Krishnamoorthi said the committee's charter is to "to investigate and report upon the economic, technological and national security challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party, also known as the CCP, to the United States."