From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- India-China relations
Despite India’s careful approach which involved not upsetting China’s domestic and geopolitical sensitivities, Galwan happened. What explains the Chinese aggression? There could be many factors. This article delves into these factors.
Not upsetting China
- The India government has been very careful not to upset China’s domestic and geopolitical sensitivities.
- Barring occasional joint statements issued with leaders from the U.S. and Asia-Pacific countries, reasserting India’s commitment to “freedom of navigation” India has stayed away from criticising China on controversial topics,
- On issues such as “de-radicalisation” camps in Xinjiang, crackdown on protests in Hong Kong, or disputes with Taiwan India India didn’t criticise China.
Yet China chose to increase tensions along the LAC. Why?
1. China wants to reorient global order
- Unlike the Soviet Union of the 1940s China is not an ideological state that intends to export communism to other countries.
- When it was rising, China had adopted different tactical positions — “hide your capacity and bide your time”, “peaceful rise” or “peaceful development”.
- That era is over.
- Under President Xi Jinping, the Chinese think they have arrived.
- With the global economy in the doldrums, globalisation in a crisis and the U.S. under an isolationist President hostile towards China Beijing believes the global order is at a breaking point.
- It is fighting back through what game theorists call “salami tactics” — where a dominant power attempts to establish its hegemony piece by piece.
- India is one slice in this salami slice strategy.
2. India: An ally-in-progress of the US
- It sees India as an ally-in-progress of the U.S.
- So, China actions are a result of the strategic loss [India] that has already happened.
- If India is what many in the West call the “counterweight” to China’s rise, Beijing’s definite message is that it is not deterred by the counterweight.
- This is a message not just to India, but to a host of China’s rivals that are teaming up and eager to recruit India to the club.
Factors that could explain China’s move
- Europe has been devastated by the virus.
- The U.S. is battling in an election year the COVID-19 outbreak.
- It is also battling the deepest economic meltdown since the Great Depression.
- Its global leadership is unravelling fast.
Regional and local factors
- The Indian economy was in trouble even before COVID-19 struck the country, slowing down its rise.
- Social upheaval over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, and the National Register of Citizens had weakened the Indian polity.
- India’s traditional clout in its neighbourhood was slipping.
- Tensions with Pakistan have been high keeping the troops occupied in the border areas.
- Nepal raised boundary issues with India.
- Sri Lanka is diversifying its foreign policy.and China is making deep inroads into that region.
- Bangladesh was deeply miffed with the CAA.
- Even in Afghanistan, where Pakistan, China, Russia and the U.S. are involved in the transition process, India is out.
- A confluence of all these factors, which point to a decline in the country’s smart power, allowed China to make aggressive moves on the LAC.
Consider the question “At the time when relations reached a nadir with China, India needs to focus on its neighbourhood and mend win back the friendly neighbours. Comment”
What India needs is a national security strategy that’s decoupled from the compulsions of domestic politics and anchored in neighbourhood realism. It should stand up to China’s bullying on the border now, with a long-term focus on enhancing capacities and winning back its friendly neighbours. There are no quick fixes this time.