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India Needs to Carefully Rethink Its Diplomatic Policy

2017-03-13 10:36



According to the website of Zee News, some Indian and American scholars have said that cooperation between India, the United States and Japan is necessary to face Chinese “assertiveness” in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific regions. The remarks were made at a recent conference in Washington D.C organized by the U.S.-based Hudson Institute and the New Delhi-based Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF).


In view of the two think tanks’ close relationship with their respective governments, it is easy to conclude that such remarks represent the attitudes of the U.S. and Indian governments or could exert influence on the governments’ diplomatic policies.


Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power in May 2015, India has made breakthroughs which observers described as “astonishing” in its security cooperation with the United States. Particularly, the several visits made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the U.S. and the signing of the India-U.S. military logistics agreement have pushed their bilateral security cooperation to new heights. It seems that India is set to become a “quasi-ally” of the United States. At the same time, constrained by their old problems as well as new challenges arising from the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, the level of disagreement between China and India continues to unfold, resulting in serious deterioration of their bilateral ties.


At the end of February 2017, China and India held a strategic dialogue. Both countries are trying hard to prevent their relations from further deteriorating. However, the conference co-organized by the Hudson Institute and the VIF indicated that many Indians still hope to collaborate with the United States and Japan in forcing China to make compromises on some issues.


However, such a practice wouldn’t achieve the results they expect. If India attempts to achieve some of its diplomatic expectations for China by capitalizing on its “achievements” in India-U.S. relations, this will only make the situation worse and even harm China-India bilateral ties. China is a nation of principles in handling international relations and is not afraid of hegemonies. This is evidenced by China’s diplomatic trajectory since 1949: from fighting against the U.S. forces in the 1950-53 Korean War to severing its relations with the Soviet Union, China has demonstrated its quality of sticking to principles.


India’s current move is likely to push Asia into a “geopolitical trap.” Some observers have even warned that this could lead to a Cold War in the region. Along with the deterioration of India-Pakistan ties and the improvement of Russia-Pakistan and China-Russia relations, many have begun to discuss the possibility of two confronting groups being emerged in the region—the China-Russia-Pakistan group vs. the U.S.-India-Japan group. India’s current diplomatic measures are pushing that tendency toward reality.


It is groundless to say that India is accelerating the development of U.S.-India-Japan trilateral ties under the pretext of relieving “pressure” from China. On the one hand, China’s claims concerning the South China Sea and the East China Sea are justifiably legitimate and reasonable. Since the ruling in the South China Sea arbitration case was announced in July 2016, more and more relevant parties have tended to accept China’s stance. On the other hand, China has always pursued a policy of open oceanic space and regional order and has even proposed the building of an open, inclusive security framework for the Asia-Pacific region, in which any country is welcome to join.


To date, China-India relations have remained comparatively mature. The current complications may necessitate the need for New Delhi to review the history of China-India relations, and to think twice about its diplomatic direction.



LIN MINWANG is a researcher at the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University.



Source: China Pictorial