Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] India’s grand illusion of a ‘reset’ with Chinaop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: From some recent moves taken by India. it is evident that India wants to reset some contentious issues with China. The newscard talks about those issues and discusses an effective foreign policy plan to counter China.


Corrective measures taken by the Indian Government

  1. It started with foreign ministry discouraging government functionaries from attending events organized by the Tibetan government in exile
  2. And there have been reports suggesting that India did not intervene in the Maldives despite grave provocation from the Abdulla Yameen government in deference to Chinese sensitivities
  3. Various diplomatic visits were happened recently(and some are planned)
  4. There is now a possibility that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China later this month
  5. Some analysts have suggested that these moves represent a much needed corrective to the last three years, during which the Modi government moved too close to the US

Is a “reset”(of India-China relationship) in current circumstances a smart move?

  1. China has refused to accommodate India’s interests in many spheres
  2. India was disappointed with the outcome of the latest joint economic group (JEG) meeting where Beijing yet again failed to take seriously India’s concern on rising bilateral trade imbalance and lack of market access for Indian goods in China
  3. India has, once again, taken up the issue of its entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) with China but a breakthrough seems far away
  4. China has been insisting on simultaneous entry of India and Pakistan into the NSG and is unlikely to budge from that position
    The main issue of the ‘reset’ exercise
  5. The biggest problem with the current “reset” exercise is that a bilateral summit is being seen as an end in itself
  6. This has been an old problem with India’s foreign policy but has been worsened in recent years
  7. A visit is seen as something to be celebrated, rather than outcomes from that visit
  8. Given the structural problems between the two countries, Modi’s visit(if it happens) is unlikely to turn the tide in bilateral relations, the histrionics of the summit notwithstanding

What should be India’s broader strategic outlook towards China?

  1. Avoid becoming a pawn: Some have suggested that India should stick to a new version of non-alignment where it can maintain equidistance from both China and the US
  2. This will help India avoid becoming a pawn in a bigger US-China war
  3. There are two massive problems with this suggestion
  4. One, it fails to address the scenario where the war is not between the US and China but between India and China
  5. The 73-day stand-off at Doklam last year indicates that the latter is no less likely than the former
  6. Two, equidistance from both the US and China will have to be artificially manufactured because it does not exist naturally
  7. India has a territorial dispute with China, not with the US
  8. The US supports India’s elevation in the UN and the NSG, China doesn’t
  9. India is raising a mountain strike corps to fight the People’s Liberation Army, not the US military. It is, therefore, monumentally silly to talk of equidistance here
    The ideal way of countering China
  10. The ideal would be to build indigenous military and economic capabilities
  11. But that won’t happen immediately; China is already decades ahead of India in terms of material capabilities. External balancing through a close US partnership is thus essential
  12. External balancing may also help build India’s own capabilities through cooperation on defence production

The way forward

  1. All this does not mean that India and China cannot cooperate with each other in any domain
  2. China is willing to side with India when it is assured of immediate pay-offs
  3. It helped in grey-listing Pakistan at the financial action task force (FATF) to combat money laundering and terrorist financing because India helped in China’s leadership bid of the inter-governmental body
  4. Recently, China and India have initiated discussions to jointly use their leverage in oil price negotiations
  5. Similarly, the two countries have an enviable track record of cooperation in global climate change negotiations
  • Subscribe

    Do not miss important study material

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
Notify of