China faces boosting US – India relations


After arriving in India over the last week, U.S. President Barack Obama concluded a series of bilateral agreements with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But that’s not all, this new move has also sparked a challenge between the two asian power: India and China.
With economic growth, India acquired the capacity to act on issues of primary strategic and economic concern to the United States. The United States, in turn, has developed a growing stake in continued Indian reform and success -- especially as they contribute to global growth, promote market-based economic policies, help secure the global commons, and maintain a mutually favorable balance of power in Asia. For its part, New Delhi seeks a United States that will help facilitate India's rise as a major power.
As United States President Barack Obama left Indian shores on Tuesday afternoon, he left a legacy that may well be a trap for India if the Narendra Modi government does not take due care: rocking the boat of India-China relations.
Three things happened during the just-concluded Obama visit to India that would inevitably make the dragon see red and react strongly:
(i) The pro-active manner in which the US and India have together waded into the South China Sea controversy by jointly issuing for the first time a separate document on the subject;
(ii) Obama’s reiteration of support for making India a full-fledged member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation APEC; and
(iii) the decision of India and the US conveyed during Obama’s visit that the two sides will raise their interaction with Japan to the foreign minister level and increase their joint activities, military included, over the next five years.
India and US released three bilateral documents during Obama’s three-day visit (25-27 January): US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region; India-U.S. Delhi Declaration of Friendship; and Joint Statement during the visit of President of USA to India ''Shared Effort; Progress for All''.
The first one is the most important irritant for China. The very title of the document is discomforting for the Chinese as it makes it clear that the world’s most powerful democracy and the world’s most populous democracy have now joined hands and have a “joint strategic vision “for the two regions of Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean where China is super active. This document underlines the synergy between New Delhi and Washington with regard to the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region and asserts that the two powers will be pro-active “from Africa to East Asia”. The following quote from the Indo-US document is enough for China to sit back and think: “From Africa to East Asia, we will build on our partnership to support sustainable, inclusive development, and increased regional connectivity by collaborating with other interested partners to address poverty and support broad-based prosperity.”
Both India and the U.S. do share an interest in managing China’s rise. Neither would like to see what some have outlined as President Xi Jinping’s vision of Asia, with a dominant China and the U.S. playing a minimal role. India and the U.S. recognize that China will play a crucial role in Asia—it is the nature of that role that concerns both countries. Their anxiety has been more evident since 2009, leading the two sides to discuss China—and the Asia-Pacific broadly—more willingly. They have an East Asia dialogue in place. There is also a trilateral dialogue with Japan and talk of upgrading it to ministerial level and including Japan on a more regular basis in India-U.S maritime exercises.
Chances are that China will now create more problems for India in the coming months just as China had started its policy of issuing stapled visas to Indians domiciled in Arunachal Pradesh in May 2007 when India and the US were all set to seal their civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. Shortly later China expanded its stapled visas policy to Indian citizens domiciled in Jammu and Kashmir and the policy remains in place till now despite repeated gentle reminders from top Indian leaders to their Chinese counterparts to stop it.
While U.S. President Barack Obama watched India’s Republic Day parade as the chief guest, China welcomed Pakistan’s army chief, General Raheel Sharif, to Beijing for talks. While in the Chinese capital, Sharif met with General Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of the PLA General Staff, General Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s central Military Commission, and Yu Zhengsheng, the chairman of China’s top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The symbolism of China and Pakistan renewing their friendship while India and the U.S. enjoyed a love-fest was not lost on outsider observers. China’s close historical relationship with Pakistan has long been a stumbling block for closer China-India ties. With Modi injecting new energy into the India-U.S. relationship, China may have been reminding India that Beijing also has other friends active in the region.
Yet Chinese media tried to downplay any sense that it felt threatened by Obama’s visit to India. “It is hoped that the development of U.S.-India relations will help promote mutual trust and cooperation among countries in the region, and safeguard peace, stability and prosperity of the region as well,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in Monday’s press conference. A Xinhua article confidently argued that the Obama-Modi meeting “is not expected to significantly impact the longstanding China-India relations.”
An op-ed in Global Times rejected the very idea that India and China are at odds. “This fixed pattern of thinking was created and hyped up by the West, which, with ulterior motives, regards the ‘Chinese dragon’ and the ‘Indian elephant’ as natural rivals,” the piece argued. Still, the commentary also warned that India “is sliding into” the Western trap of a “zero-sum game” between China and India.  Both Xinhua and Global Times pointedly argued that India needs China to complete its own development goals. China’s embrace of Pakistan may be a subtle reminder that India should take care not to distance itself too far from Beijing.
When it comes to China, however, India and the U.S. must have realistic expectations about the other. Every decision each country makes vis-à-vis China should not be seen as a zero-sum game. India shouldn’t expect to be treated as an ally (with all the assurances that come with that) if it isn’t one. And the U.S. has to recognize that India is likely to maintain other partnerships in its attempt to balance China—including one with Russia—that Washington might not like. Finally, it is important for policymakers and analysts in both countries to keep in mind that an India-U.S. strategic partnership solely based on China is neither desirable nor sustainable./.

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All comments [ 10 ]

Quốc Cường 4/2/15 21:01

The U.S. should pursue robust strategic and military engagement with India in order to encourage a stable balance of power in Asia that prevents China from dominating the region and surrounding seas.

Quân Hoàng 4/2/15 21:13

Both India and the U.S. have relationships with China that have elements of cooperation, competition and, potentially, conflict—though in different degrees.

Hùng Quân 4/2/15 21:14

After all, China is India’s immediate neighbour and India cannot afford to have a giant neighbour like China as an Albatross around its neck.

Huy Quốc 4/2/15 21:16

I don't think this relations could become an alliance, they have so many differences.

Lê Tín 4/2/15 21:17

The U.S. and India share a broad strategic interest in setting limits to China’s geopolitical horizons and can work together to support mutually reinforcing goals without becoming “allies” in the traditional sense.

Phạm Hiếu 4/2/15 21:19

US - India relations vs Russia - China relations, so hilarious!

Hoàng Lân 4/2/15 21:21

India is keeping a wary eye on China’s rapid global ascent. Unresolved border issues that resulted in the Sino–Indian War of 1962 have been heating up again in recent years. Indian policymakers are scrambling to develop effective policies to cope with a rising China.

Quốc Kiên 4/2/15 21:22

Indian policymakers worry both about a China-U.S. condominium (or G-2) and a China-U.S. crisis or conflict.

Vân Nhàn 4/2/15 21:25

The U.S. should continue to support the development of India’s relationships with its allies and countries in Southeast Asia such as Japan, Australia, Indonesia...

Huy Lâm 4/2/15 21:28

For its part, India is slowly building political and economic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the individual states of Southeast Asia, which generally welcome India’s involvement as a balance to growing Chinese influence.

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