Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

What India should consider about the proposition to isolate China


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- India-China relations

The economic grip China exerts on the world protects it from the threat of isolation. This article examines this issue and its implications for India.

Worsening U.S.-China ties and implications for other countries

  • After years of cooperating with one another, the U.S. and China are currently at the stage of confrontation.
  • Both are seeking allies to join their camps.
  • This places several countries in Asia, in a difficult position as most of them, loathe to take sides.
  • The U.S. may not necessarily be the first choice for many countries of Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.
  • In the case of China, it is clearly more feared than loved.

China’s aggression

  •  Beijing’s virtual takeover of Hong Kong has only confirmed what had long been known about China’s intentions.
  • In March-April this year, China further stepped up its aggressive actions, renaming almost 80 geographical features in the region as an index of Chinese sovereignty.
  •  Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and South Korea have all complained about China’s menacing postures in their vicinity.

How countries are resisting China

  • Hardly any country in Asia is willing to openly confront China, and side with the U.S.
  • East Asian countries explain that China was always known to be over-protective of the South China Sea.
  • And China consider South China Sea a natural shield against possible hostile intervention by outside forces inimical to it.
  • No U.S. assurance and Chinese aggression has been enough to make countries in the region openly side with the U.S. and against China.

China’s economic grip and lessons for India

  • Despite a series of diktats from Washington to restrict economic and other relations, China remains unfazed.
  • China seems confident that its stranglehold on the global economy ensures that it does not face any real challenge.
  • It would be wise for India to recognise this.
  • It is equally necessary to realise how fickle some of these countries can be when it comes to economic issues.
  •  At a recent meeting in Washington Australia (a member of the Quad) made it clear that China is important for Australia.
  • Likewise, the U.K.’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, recently stated in its Parliament, that the U.K. wants a positive relationship with China.
  • It is evident that few nations across the world are willing to risk China’s ire because of strong economic ties.

India’s relations with neighbouring countries: concerns

  • India’s relations with Nepal, meanwhile, have hit a roadblock over the Kalapani area.
  • In Sri Lanka, the return of the Rajapaksas to power after the recent elections does not augur too well for India-Sri Lanka relations.
  • The strain in India-Bangladesh relations is a real cause for concern since it can provide a beachhead against Chinese activities in the region.

Growing Chinese presence in India’s sphere of influence

  •  In July, the Chinese Foreign Minister organised a virtual meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • In this meeting, China proposed economic corridor plan with Nepal, styled as the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network.
  • China has also made headway in Iran to an extent, again at India’s expense.


Geo-balancing is not happening to China’s disadvantage. This lesson must be well understood when India plan its future strategy.

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