Both Beijing and Islamabad reacted sharply to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump explicitly and implicitly identifying Pakistan and China respectively as nettlesome adversaries.
While Pakistan was publicly called out for backing terrorist groups and received a drubbing both in the joint statement and a warning by way of designating Kashmiri extremist Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist, the US-India position on China was more nuanced. Without once mentioning China by name, Trump twitted Beijing for not being helpful in bringing North Korea to heel, while lavishing praise on India's little known contribution towards making sanctions against Pyongyang a success.
India's salience in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific region were referred to several times and the US also backed India's role in Afghanistan.
Trump also spoke about a joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean that will involve Japanese, Indian and American warships, coming on the heels of his administration selling Guardian drones to India that will enable New Delhi to keep a check on Chinese activity in the Indian Ocean.
China's guidance to Pakistan and North Korea in the nuclear weapons and ballistic missile sphere has resulted in an axis of nuclear powers. The US-India bonhomie, coming on the heels of a rather more stiff meeting between Trump and China's President Xi Jinping last week, sent the Chinese media into a tizzy . “To assume a role as an outpost country in the US' strategy to contain China is not in line with India's interests. It could even lead to catastrophic results,“ fumed China's state-run newspaper Global Times, while maintaining that US was cozying up to India to ratchet up geopolitical pressure on Beijing.
“The designation of individuals supporting Kashmiri right to self-determination as terrorists is completely unjustified,“ Pakistan's foreign office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said in a statement, even as Trump administration has signalled it may resume drone strikes and more punitive aid cuts because of Islamabad's recalcitrance in reining in terror groups.
However, it was not all hunky-dory for Modi and India despite positive optics. The US President made sure to remind the PM in public the trade imbalance, while declining to commit himself to visit India at his invitation.