ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India and China

India–China relations have always been shaped by contradictory factors, with forces of cooperation limited by competing geopolitical ideas and interests. This complex model of interactions has served both sides reasonably well, and attempts to elevate one mode of interaction as the dominant one have invariably failed. The recent Doklam crisis showed that, despite efforts from both sides to transform the relationship to one of outright rivalry and conflict, the basic framework proved resilient enough to pull back both countries from the brink.

Dilating on a ‘Half-front War’

The reference to a “two and a half front war” by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat is critically dissected. The “half front” apparently covers large tracts of India and a significant number of its marginalised people. The thought of a war on the half front, as conjured by this term, needs to be controverted outright. The army’s imagining of such a war and preparation for it is questioned.

Locating the Belt and Road in China’s Broader Policy Shifts

The Belt and Road initiative is part of a broader Chinese policy reorientation where its leaders are responding to the challenges and opportunities of a fraying United States–led international order. The B&R was envisaged to gain strategic depth in the inner Asian hinterland to counteract geostrategic pressure from the US–Japan alliance as well as to buy time to reform a highly imbalanced domestic political economy.

A Disjointed Doctrine

The recently released joint doctrine of the armed forces outlines the manner in which they expect to fight the next war. Though the doctrine suggests “decisive victory” is possible, it bears reminding that the closer they get to this the closer would be the nuclear threshold. Since the doctrine does not dwell on the nuclear level, it cannot be said that the doctrine makes India any safer. However, the doctrine’s take on civil–military relations is far more interesting.

Corrosive Impact of Army’s Commitment in Kashmir

The army has had an extended deployment in Kashmir. While it has enabled operational experience for its members, there is a danger that the advantages of this can make the army acquire a stake in the disturbed conditions. This makes the army part of the problem in Kashmir. Its deployment is not without a price in regard to the internal good health of the army.

India’s Opposition to China–Pakistan Economic Corridor Is Flawed

China is opening up its land borders in Xinjiang to interact more freely with Central Asia and Europe. China and Pakistan are jointly building the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India views this as a violation of its sovereignty. Geopolitics rather than geoeconomics predominates India’s thinking on possibilities offered by the revival of the old Silk Road by the Chinese.

Limited Geopolitical Accommodation Benefits for India–China Relations

The nature of Sino–Indian interactions across five issue areas highlights that Delhi and Beijing have more overlapping interests than is generally recognised. Such an analytical exercise also reveals that South Asia is potentially the most contentious arena for India–China relations. A limited Sino–Indian geopolitical accommodation in the immediate neighbourhood is both viable and necessary to arrest the deterioration in the bilateral relationship in recent years and ensure regional stability.

India's Strategic Shift

In abandoning strategic restraint in favour of strategic proactivism, India is transiting from a strategic doctrine of offensive deterrence to compellence. This is not without its dangers since the military doctrines of India and Pakistan are presently coupled in a volatile way. Moving towards proactivism makes them altogether combustible. This makes the strategic logic of the shift suspect, prompting speculations as to its inspiration.

Belt and Road Initiative

American unilateralism has become a problem for the world. Post the Cold War, American hegemony has become inimical to world peace. After more than 25 years, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Both Russia and China are geographically destined to offer resistance against a unipolar world. However, the two are most likely to fail if they challenge the United States militarily. They can challenge American power peacefully by diverting international trade away from the oceans towards Eurasian land routes. The new Silk Road initiative by China, and unity hold the key to a peaceful world.

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