India Comes to Terms with a Rising China
Harsh V. Pant
This chapter discusses the changing trajectory of Indian policy toward China and explores how India is responding to China’s rise across a range of issue areas central to its strategic calculus.
Despite the rhetoric of cooperation, distrust of China is growing in India at an alarming rate. The two sides seem locked in a classic security dilemma in which any action taken by one state is interpreted by the other as a threat to its interests. In India a consensus is evolving that China’s rise is problematic for Indian global and regional interests. There is also a growing perception that, among the major powers, China is the only one that does not accept India as a rising player that should be accommodated into the global political order.
- Indian policy toward China is becoming tougher as New Delhi embarks on a more forceful policy of internal and external balancing in an attempt to protect the country’s core interests. New Delhi will be hard-pressed to balance its desire to deter China with its interest in avoiding an escalation of tensions.
- India will view the U.S. as a critical balancer in the India-U.S.-China triangular relationship and will look to Washington for support as both Sino-Indian and Sino-U.S. competition enter into sharper relief in the coming years. India’s burgeoning relationship with the U.S. gives New Delhi crucial strategic room to maneuver vis-à-vis China.
- The U.S. faces the prospect of an emerging power transition in Asia, and a robust partnership with India will be a valuable asset in stabilizing the region’s strategic landscape.