Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: How to cooperate with China, and related issues
- The article talks about the IR issues related to China and gives some possible solutions for the same
Possible effect of the Quad Grouping on Sino-Indian relationship
- The recent revival of the ‘Quadrilateral’ (or Quad) and the consequent talk of an ‘Asian NATO’ have brought the India-China rivalry back to the limelight
India should be cautious
- How to ‘balance’ China will occupy a great deal of India’s strategic attention in the years ahead as China charts its heading towards superpower status
- Any such strategising by India needs to be prudently thought out
How will China influence the world in future?
- China’s superpower ambitions are bound to have a system-shaping impact on the Asian region
- There will be China-led alliances, Chinese client states and the establishment of Chinese spheres of influence
- The alleged China connection to the recent ‘regime change’ in Zimbabwe is perhaps a indicator of things to come
Main focus of China
- China is ensuring that its access to overseas resources/markets and the oceanic trade routes are unhindered
- In doing so, it is increasingly seeking to build military facilities overseas and offset the U.S.-led coalition in the region
Is aligning with the US not good for India?
- In the big picture of Chinese grand strategy, India, seen increasingly aligned with the U.S., is a spoiler
- Denying India entry into (1) the Nuclear Suppliers Group, (2) repeatedly blocking UN sanctions against Pakistan-based terrorists, (3) and ignoring India’s sensitivity over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor are outcomes of this vision(according to some experts)
Why is Sinophobia increasing in India?
- For one, Chinese revisionist claims in the land and oceanic space have been a major source of concern
- Beijing’s deployment of naval assets to enforce its claims across the South China Sea,
- construction of artificial islands in the region
- and the rejection of a UN tribunal judgment on a complaint filed by the Philippines, last year have only strengthened this feeling
- China has also been increasing its naval presence, including dispatching its nuclear submarines on patrol, in the Indian Ocean
- Second, along with military assertion, China has also been stepping up its political and economic footprint in the region
- Third, the ever-strengthening China-Pakistan military alliance and its implications for India
Why is Quad with the US not a good idea?
- There are several problems with this approach:
(1) the U.S. is a quickly-receding extra-regional power whose long-term commitment to the region is increasingly indeterminate and unsure;
(2) U.S.-China relations are far more complex than we generally assume;
(3) and Australia is caught between the U.S. and China
- While India may have shed its traditional reticence about a strategic partnership with the U.S., it would still not be what Japan is to the U.S.
What should be done on military side?
- Military preparedness to offset any potential Chinese aggression is something that India can and should invest in
- But again, Chinese military aggression has really not been India’s central concern, but a China-dominated region in which India is surrounded
- Military preparedness, in which we will inevitably lag behind China, alone cannot address such a concern
Strategy of countering China with Trade restrictions
- Some have suggested that India should use its $70 billion-strong trading relationship with China as a bargaining chip to check Chinese behaviour
- However, doing so would hurt both sides
- While it is true that India-China bilateral trade is heavily skewed in favour of China, let’s not forget that China’s exports to India comprise under 3% of its total exports
(and India’s exports to China is 3.6% of its total exports)
- Boycotting Chinese goods would also mean Indian consumers paying more to get them from elsewhere
What should be done in this situation?
- India would be better served by adopting a more nuanced balancing strategy, a strategy of ‘smart-balancing’, towards Beijing
- A strategy that involves deep engagements and carefully calibrated balancing, at the same time
- First of all, it would involve co-binding China in a bilateral/regional security complex
- Some efforts in this direction are already under way such as India-China joint anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden
- The two countries could consider initiating regular, structured consultations in this regard
- In other words, enhancing security cooperation with China is a sure way of alleviating the persistent security dilemma between them
- A mutual ‘complex interdependence’ in economic, security and other domains should be strengthened and front-loaded over zero-sum competition
- This security cooperation should most certainly be enhanced in the Indo-Pacific where India should talk of cooperating with China
- Language is important: talk about security community and joint efforts than containing China
- Second, India should cooperate with and trust China while at the same time keeping Military prepared
- After all, the role of military strength in guaranteeing national security cannot be underestimated
- Third, India’s response to China’s refusal to act against Pakistan-based terrorists needn’t be strait-laced
- However, while China is unlikely to make Islamabad politically uncomfortable by public terror-shaming, the more China gets involved in Pakistan, the less it can afford to ignore terrorism within Pakistan
The way forward
- India urgently needs to develop a clear vision for a stable regional security order
- And work out what role India would like China to play in that vision and how it can nudge China towards that
- Keeping China out of the regional security order is not realistic, letting China dominate it is not desirable: smart-balancing China within such an order is indeed the optimal strategy