Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Opportunity for India in changing global order


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 2- Changing global order presents opportunities for India.

The world is going through a transition phase. We are experiencing the rise of new powers and the decline of the old. India has to navigate its path through this changing order keeping its interests in mind. The double opportunity in current scenario for India is explained in the article. To know more about it, continue reading.

The changing global stage

  • The world today is fragmenting and slowing down economically.
  • Asia-Pacific is the new economic and political centre of the world with the rise of China, India and other powers — Indonesia, South Korea, Iran, Vietnam.
  • Rapid shifts in the balance of power in the region have led to arms races and the US’s “America First” attitude has led to rising uncertainty.
  • China-U.S. strategic contention is growing, uninhibited so far by their economic co-dependence.
  • As China seeks primacy in a world so far dominated by the U.S., the world faces a destabilising power transition which may or may not be completed.

What should India’s response be to the new situation?

Alliance with the US?

  • Many experts advocate that India should enter into an alliance with the U.S in the wake of rising China.
  • But India is much greater and more resilient than these people think.
  • Also, the aim of foreign and security policies of India has been the pursuit of strategic autonomy for India.
  • Thus, in the present situation, India should retain the above initiative and not get entangled in others’ quarrels. (i.e. the US-China quarrel)
  • Also, India should focus on pursuing its own national interest in this disorganized and uncertain world by creative diplomacy and flexibility.
  • An alliance seems to be exactly the wrong answer.

China challenge

  • One way to handle China could be to see whether the two countries can evolve a new modus vivendi.
  • This new modus vivendi shall replace the one that was formalised in the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi visit.
  • The old framework is no longer working and the signs of stress in the relationship are everywhere.
  • The more India rises, the more it must expect Chinese opposition.
  • So, India will have to work with other powers to ensure that its interests are protected in the neighbourhood, the region and the world.
  • The complexity of India-China relations suggests there is a scope for new modus vivendi.
  • This would require a high-level strategic dialogue between the two sides about their core interests, red lines, differences and areas of convergence.

What India can do to keep the region multi-polar?

  • As U.S. is withdrawing from the world, it will no longer be the upholder of international, economic and political order.
  • There is uncertainty over how the US will choose to deal with China.
  • India must work with other powers to ensure that this region stays multi-polar and that China behaves responsibly.

Double opportunity for India

  • 1. Opportunity in the US-China contention
  • US-China contention will continue in future. Hence, both China and the U.S. will look to put other conflicts (eg: conflicts with India on trade or border issue) and tensions on the back burner.
  • This effect is already perceptible in the Wuhan meeting between China’s President Xi Jinping and Mr. Modi in early 2018.
  • And the apparent truce and dialing back of rhetoric by both India and China.
  • 2. Opportunity to Change national security Structures
  • Today, India is more dependent on the outside world than ever before.
  • It relies on the world for energy, technology, essential goods like fertilizer and coal, commodities, access to markets, and capital.
  • Adding the new security agenda and the contested global commons in outer and cyberspace and the high seas to India’s traditional state-centred security concerns gives India a sense of insecurity.
  • So, India needs to adapt to the changes and avoid imitating China.

Consider the question-“The global order is experiencing geopolitical churn, new powers are rising and older are staring at the decline. In such a scenario, examine the opportunities India can explore in the context of the US-China contention”.


India risks missing the bus to becoming a developed country if it continues business and politics as usual. The most important improvement that India needs to make concerns its national security structures and their work — introducing flexibility into India’s thinking and India’s structures. For change is the only certainty in life.

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3 years ago

Please compile other articles related to this topic as well here.

Last edited 3 years ago by anurags anurags


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