Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Seeking equilibrium with China


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- India-China relations

The article analyses the India’s efforts to establish strategic equilibrium with assertive China and how that idea clashes with China’s desire to form an Asian order with itself at the top.

Strategic equilibrium

  •  External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar articulated that India is seeking strategic equilibrium with an increasingly aggressive China.
  • It is hoped that with China’s growing differences with the U.S. China would pay attention to India’s sensitivities.
  • In achieving equilibrium with China, India has bravely been confronting a face-off in the Himalayas for the past several months.
  • India has been building issue-based alliances with the US and Asian majors like Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia, and Australia.
  • It has taken initiatives in the direction of economic de-coupling with China in the name of “atmanirbharata”.

Hierarchical Asian order with China at top

  • China is not interested in equilibrium with any of its Asian neighbours, least of all with India.
  • China’s efforts are clearly to build a hierarchical Asian order, with itself at the top.
  • It is acutely conscious of India’s economic strength, military modernisation and overall capabilities.
  • It knows that India is also far behind on these counts.
  • China is ruthlessly resisting India’s access to global governance bodies, such as the UNSC and NSG.
  • To keep India tied at that level, China is objecting to India’s growing strategic proximity to the US. I
  • It is encircling India strategically and economically through its strategic and economic corridors — BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar), CPEC and the Trans-Himalayan Connectivity Network.
  • It is raising issues like Kashmir at the UN and establishing footprints in the Indian Ocean.

What should India do

1. Adjust with China, at least tactically.

  • Such an adjustment could be based on mutual give and take.
  • For India, our first priority could be the resolution of the border dispute.
  • Secondly, since China has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, it should be asked to prevail over Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue.
  • In return for these “takes” India could offer access to Chinese commercial cargos to sea, through the Nathula pass.
  • India could also join China’s BRI on mutually acceptable terms.
  • India may also show its willingness, at least tactically, to join CPEC as both Pakistan and China have asked for, provided, India is allowed to undertake projects in PoK and Balochistan.

2.India should revisit its Tibet policy, which is a core irritant for China.

Consider the question “China seeking to establish an Asian order with itself at the top comes in the way of India establishing strategic equilibrium with China. Comment.”


It is possible that this “give” and “take” may not be acceptable to China. Even if it does not work out as planned, India would have made a bold diplomatic initiative and a huge tactical move towards thinking through out-of-the-box solutions and displaying that it can undertake risks to pursue its long-term national interests.

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