Relations between the United States and India face a severe test after an attempt to assassinate an American citizen was recently foiled.

India has considered Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, an American citizen based in New York, as a terrorist for supporting the creation of an independent Sikh state.

The attempt was the second after a prominent Indian Sikh leader was murdered in Vancouver, Canada, in June. The assassination of Canadian Sikh Hardeep Singh Niijar had affected India-Canada relations, threatening free trade talks.

India was angered by Canada’s allegations that an Indian official planned the murder, based on information shared by US intelligence services. Based on the information, India allegedly plotted to assassinate four Sikh leaders in Canada and the United States.

New Delhi had a milder reaction to US accusations and appeared to be more cooperative by creating a high-level committee to look into information an Indian official was linked to the attempted murder.

Washington can use the attempted assassination to put more pressure on New Delhi to do more to confront China.

The United States needs India to contain a rising China in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly to destabilize the unity of two groups — the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS.

SCO is a security organization led by China and Russia to rival the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO was trying to expand to include Japan and South Korea in the Indo-Pacific region.

On the other hand, BRICS is an intergovernmental organization composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, considered the main rival of the Western G7 countries.

Washington also wanted New Delhi to play an important and leading role in reshaping relations between the “Global South” and the “Collective West.”

More importantly, the United States wanted India to be its leading partner in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) together with Japan and Australia to counter China’s influence in the region, particularly in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

As a former colony of the United Kingdom, the US wanted India to support the Australia, United Kingdom, and the United States (AUKUS) alliance as an added pressure to China.

AUKUS does not only concern the development and deployment of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines but is also meant to counter China’s growing presence and movements in the region.

The United States wanted to keep its global role through India’s help and with other allies, like Australia, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

However, the US plan for global dominance was threatened by the assassination plots against Sikh separatist leaders in Canada and the United States.

Washington is walking on a tight rope. It has to balance its carrot-and-stick approach in dealing with India.

If it plays it cards well, it could keep India on its side.

Otherwise, India could drift toward Russia, another US rival.

One thing is sure, however. India will not become friendly with China because of strategic rivalry in the Indian Ocean and along its Himalayan borders.

For the Philippines, it needs both the US and India to counter China’s coercive activities in the South China Sea.

There have been increasing cooperative activities between India and the Philippines, with Indian Navy sailing in the South China Sea.

An Indian Navy anti-submarine corvette is in Manila for a port visit, a demonstration of increasing defense relations between the two countries.

Manila is also acquiring Brahmos shore-to-ship missiles to boost the country’s anti-access and area denial (A2AD) capability.

India has also offered to sell anti-submarine helicopters to the Philippines and train its navy on how to operate and maintain sub-surface platforms.

It is in the Philippines’s interest to see relations between Washington and New Delhi remain stable and strong to help Manila counter Beijing.

US-India relations would remain smooth as long as India’s interests matched America’s global agenda.

And Washington will keep its pressure to keep New Delhi’s toe the line, a form of Western neocolonialism in the Indo-Pacific region.