Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] A multilateral alternative, by Asia


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2-Relations with China and the U.S.


After the gap of 200 years, Asian economies are once again larger than the rest of the world combined.

The Asian Century

  • Providing an alternative order: With the rise of India and China, Asia is providing a multilateral alternative to the world base on values.
  • Asian Century corresponds to the re-emergence of the two countries, leveraging the size and technological competence
  • Civilizational values: Both countries have civilisational values that are different from the west.
  • Peaceful existence: In the case of India and China balance of power is a western construct and both lived in peace across the ages.
  • The rise of China on the global landscape: In 2013, after attaining 15% of global wealth, announced the multilateral Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In 2014, launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, challenging the global governance paradigm.
  • India in 2015, established the International Solar Alliance, laying out a distinct global sustainable development framework.
  • Current multilateralism and its problems: The U.S. has recognised the ‘Asian Century’ bypassing multilateralism and recognised Indo-Pacific construct.
  • The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the inclusion of intellectual property rights into the trade regime point to the colonial origin of the present order.


New Framework- Country-specific to global value chain

  • Changing competition: Competition is moving from country-specific to fragmented competition based on global value chains.
  • Imposing the U.S. determined national security standards has led to only a handful of countries agreeing to ban Huawei for 5G technology.
  • The U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran that have affected India’s interests.
  • A different approach of China: It is based on “common interests” as different from the agreed goals of a negotiated treaty. BRI is an example of this.
  • It optimise not maximise the financial returns with countries remaining out of it.
  • The BRI offers the benefit of integration and connectivity with European markets to the member countries.

Potential of BRI

  • It acts as a strategic framework: It provides a strategic framework for new global institution building.
  • Its scope is as wide as multilateral treaties.
  • Internationalizing the Renminbi: With state-owned enterprises in the infrastructure sector in the sector in BRI and backing from national banks is internationalising the Renminbi.
  • Developing blockchain bases infrastructure: As a leader in digital transactions, China is developing blockchain-based infrastructure in BRI countries. Thus reducing the dependence on the dollar.

The shared interest of India and China

  • RCEP: China and the rest of the countries are eager that India joins the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is poised to become the largest trading block.
  • Security and border dispute: With the U.S. pivot to Asia, China is eager to resolve the dispute with India to avoid constraints.
  • Huawei: India has rejected American opposition to Huawei taking part in 5G trials, India allowed all applicants to participate.

    The emergence of new values

  • The emergence of the new order should not be seen through a western prism.
  • The triumvirate: India, the U.S., and China are intertwined with each other. China was the largest supplier of the goods to the U.S. in 2018 and it has been India’s major trading partner.
  • They take part in limited sectoral cooperation on a regional basis.
  • Both the U.S. and China have a regular high-level discussions on strategic issues with India.

    Area of future differences

  • In Asia, differences will center on overlapping priorities.
  • Security-The U.S.’s effort to maintain hegemony.
  • Economy-China’s emphasis on connectivity, markets, and growth.
  • An equitable and sustainable development-India-led framework of digital infrastructure designed as a public good.


With the rise of India and China in Asia and the presence of the U.S. with them is going to make the new order centered around Asia a new reality in the near future.

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