Balancing US, China and Russia – UPSC GS2

  • India must actively engage with all the three big powers (US, Russia, China).
  • It is because there is no guarantee that today’s friends will not confront and today’s enemy will not cooperate in the future.
  • This is based on the principle that change is the only permanent thing in foreign relations.
Russia – China Relations:
  • They shared very good relations in the 1950s due to the shared ideology of communism. A formal treaty of alliance was signed in 1950.
  • Russia generously gave economic and technological support to China that helped in the development of China’s nuclear program.
  • However, relations deteriorated in the 1960s and a tussle between the armies was seen in 1969.
  • After this, both countries tried to enhance their closeness with the U.S as a way of countering the other. However, a little normalcy in relations was seen in the 1980s post the American pressure.
  • The relationship strengthened once again after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It was due to the ignorant attitude of the western bloc towards Russia.
US – Russia relations:
  • They were allies in the 1940s and defeated the axis powers in World War 2. They laid the foundation of the Yalta system on which the current world order rests.
  • However, in the late 1940s, a Cold War emerged between the two based on ideological confrontation – Capitalism versus Communism.
  • A ray of hope was again witnessed in the 1960s when the two agreed to lay the foundations for nuclear arms control. They also agreed to develop a new framework for shared global leadership.
  • Nonetheless, the relationship has been confrontational in nature after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.
US – China Relations:
  • They shared a sour relationship in the 1950s. The countries were confronting each other in the Korean War in the early 1950s.
  • However, the growing differences with Russia and fear of two countries’ global domination in the 1960-70s induced it to engage more with the U.S.
  • As a mark of loyalty towards the US, the Chinese government didn’t renew the security treaty with Russia in 1980.
  • China took the support of the US and strengthened the economic power that eventually helped it to become a future global leader.
  • Despite this, China and the US don’t share a cordial relationship in the current scenario.
India’s relationship with China, Russia, and US:
  • Russia had shown considerable support in the form of repeated veto in the UN against Anglo-American interventions in Kashmir.
  • The 1960s tussle between Russia and China allowed India to enhance its cooperation with Russia especially post the 1962 Sino-India war. Both countries viewed China as a common threat.
  • India became cautious of US-Russia dominance over the world in the 1960s especially post the adoption of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty system. This was to curtail India’s atomic ambitions.
  • Russian intervention in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Afghanistan were against Indian principles. It created a gap in relations.
  • Russia and China are today cautious of India’s growing closeness with the U.S. They want to create an Asian NATO to counter the west. India on the other hand is concerned about America and China setting up a G-2 over Asia and the world.
Way Forward:
  • The changing relationships between the trio indicate that bonding between Russia-China can decrease in the future. Similarly, the US can develop closeness with China.
  • Understanding this, India must actively partner with all of them as done by it in the past.
  • In the case of Russia, the mutually beneficial bilateral relationship shouldn’t be compromised despite the current differences over Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific issue.
  • India should leverage its economic potential (6th Largest) and diverse base of foreign policy to effectively balance the relationship with the trio.

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