India-China-USA Triangle – UPSC GS2

Recent geopolitical developments around the world:
  • Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in a year-long border standoff that has taken the lives of soldiers on both sides.
  • China’s naval vessels patrol the Indian Ocean, while it consolidates partnerships in South Asia and across Eurasia.
  • The US is struggling to regain its superpower image, after the term of former President Trump.
The growth of China and its future policies:
China is central to the world economy. This is because:
  • China manufactures one-fourth of global industrial production,
  • Consumes a fourth of the world’s energy
  • Consumes around 59 percent of the world’s cement and half the world’s steel and copper
  • China has used its wealth for domestic development, to modernize its armed forces, and expand its economic, political and military footprint in areas of strategic importance – the East and South China Seas, the Eurasian landmass, and the Indian Ocean.
USA’s approach on China’s growth:
  • The US views China’s rise as a challenge to its dominance for over seven decades and is shaping its foreign policy to prevent the emergence of a global competitor.
  • Previous President of US impose restrictions on China’s access to US technology and markets.
  • The current President is mobilizing initiatives and allies.
  • The US has given up on competing with China in Eurasia and is focused on restricting Chinese activity in the maritime sphere. For instance,
    • It has accepted the concept of “Indo-Pacific” – the notion that the security interests of the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean are inter-linked.
    • The US has pulled India as a robust partner into the US-led alignment, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) to restrain Chinese assertiveness in these waters. India is the only Quad member that shares a land frontier with China.
Geopolitics of India:
  • Several of India’s South Asian neighbours share borders with China – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar. So these states have also become areas of political competition between the two countries.
  • Conscious of China’s increasing economic and military prowess, India has, from 2008, been deepening security and defence ties. For instance,
    • India signed several agreements with the US that have included increasing defence purchases, agreements on the interoperability of their armed forces.
    • A proliferation of joint military exercises of defence forces, intelligence-sharing, and regular high-level interactions.
India-China-US triangle:
  • The rapid expansion of Indo-US security relations possibly encouraged China to initiate the Ladakh standoff in May last year as a rude geography lesson to remind India where its serious security concerns lie.
Suggestions to improve India’s relations:
  • India’s goal should be “to be closer to both China and the US than they are to each other”. Clearly, the present state of Indo-US ties has violated this norm, while providing few strategic benefits to India.
  • More engagement and more strategic autonomy and issue-based coalitions of the willing will provide India with the ability to manage the changes taking place in world affairs, particularly the rise of new players – China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and Iran.
“India’s strategy” for the future has to be more modest, more realistic, and has to be more valuable over the longer term. Domestic effort and external engagements can transform “India into a prosperous, strong and modern country.”