Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

The costs of relying on China to become more apparent to India’s neighbours


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- China's wolf warrior foreign policy and its implications for India's neighbours

The article explains the implications of China’s assertive foreign policy for India’s neighbours.

Chinese warning to Bangladesh

  • The Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh warned Bangladesh against joining the Quad and added that it will risk “significant damage” to its relationship with Beijing if it warms up to the Quad.
  • This came as a surprise as China was warning Bangladesh against joining a club that has no plans to invite new members, let alone Bangladesh.
  • China always used tough language when it came to issues of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • The aggressive style now covers a much broader range of issues.
  • Beijing is conscious that Bangladesh’s impressive economic performance in recent years as well as its location at the top of the Bay of Bengal littoral lends a new strategic salience to Bangladesh.
  • China notes India’s growing diplomatic investment in developing a strategic partnership with Bangladesh.
  • China is also not blind to the emerging interest in US and Japan to expand cooperation with Dhaka.
  • Bangladesh, which supports China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is open to similar infrastructure cooperation with the US, Japan and India.

China’s wolf worrier diplomacy

  • The new wolf warrior diplomacy confronts head-on any criticism of China in the public sphere.
  • India has been at the receiving end of this policy for a while — especially during the recent crises of Doklam and Ladakh.
  • But India’s South Asian neighbours, all of whom enjoy good relations with China, are only now getting a taste of Beijing’s new diplomatic medicine.
  • Chinese Ambassador’s public remarks about the Quad were about telling Bangladesh to resist any Indo-Pacific temptation.
  • Pre-emption is very much part of Beijing’s strategic culture.

What such assertive diplomacy mean for South Asia

  • Delhi has learnt after long that too much diplomatic interference in the Subcontinent has tended to undermine the pursuit of India’s regional objectives.
  • China, as the world’s newest superpower, probably bets that its substantive leverages — including economic, diplomatic, and military — will limit the costs while deterring smaller nations from crossing the markers that it lays down.
  • South Asian elites have always seethed at India meddling in their internal affairs; they have held up China’s non-interventionist policy as a welcome alternative.
  • The controversy in Bangladesh over China’s remark on joining Quad should help update their past images of Beijing
  • India is now more circumspect than before about interventions in the region.
  • It recognises that avoiding knee-jerk interventions is a sensible policy.
  • Our neighbours have always complained about India’s inefficiency in implementing economic projects and contrasted this with China’s speed and purposefulness.
  • But they are also discovering the flip side of Chinese economic efficiency — the capacity to set and implement terms of cooperation that are not always in favour of the host nation.
  • All the regimes in the region have had access to different sections of the Indian elite and some capacity to shape the discourse on neighbourhood policies.
  • They have no political recourse at all in China’s closed political system.

Consider the question “As Beijing becomes ever more assertive in South Asia, the costs of relying on China are likely to become more apparent to South Asia’s smaller nations. Comment.”


Until now, Chinese support against India seemed free of cost. As Beijing becomes ever more assertive in South Asia, the costs of relying on China are likely to become more apparent.

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