US or China

In your opinion, which country is more important to India to build a ‘strategic partnership‘ – USA or China? Critically comment why. (200 Words)

India stands at an edge in building strategic partnerships with USA and China, tilting towards one may antagonize the other. Looking at the merits in engaging with one over the other as follows:
  1. India does not have a good history when dealing with China regarding the boundary and LAC issues. Currently also China is having an expansionist attitude in its neighbouring region and especially in south China sea and Indian Ocean which is dangerous for India. To protect its interests India will have to engage USA in order to maintain a regional balance of power.
  2. USA can assist India in achieving its goals in procurement of nuclear energy and also self-reliance in defence. Also a large Indian workforce contributes to USA’s economy and at the same time USA has been the largest importer of Indian software industry. Hence it is imperative to maintain good relations with USA.
  3. At the same time India will have to collaborate with China to protect interests of developing countries in International summits and organization like WTO and dealing with climate change. The stance of USA has been hawkish towards India in these regards.
  4. China is the immediate neighbour of India unlike USA. Good relations with China are necessary not only from economic point of view but also defence point of view as we have another hostile neighbour Pakistan which has friendly partnership with China.
It will not be possible for India to engage with only one country, either USA or China. India as matured and sovereign country has all the right to protect its interests for e.g. securing a seat in UNSC buy engaging in multi-pronged diplomacy.
The U.S. has been trying to draw India into the anti-China security grouping as part of its ―pivot to the East policy. But such a tilt may not serve India‘s interests. How far do you agree with this assessment? Critically comment. (200 Words)
The USA‘s antagonism towards China is primarily derived from the increasing economic and military power of China. In order to maintain its global preeminence USA has employed various strategies such as increasing of military collaboration with countries of SE Asia like Philippines and Myanmar, in addition to proposing a strategic economic framework, the TPP, to contain China‘s economic influence.
Here, the USA‘s insistence on including India in its ―pivot to Asia‖ policy is borne out of the fact that India, being the largest democratic country, is a natural ally of USA and that we have had a troubled relationship with China. The increasing military and economic cooperation between the two countries and the USA‘s gradual withdrawal of support from Pakistan, especially on the Kashmir issue, are evidence of its desire to include India in its ―pivot‖.
However, joining such a grouping against China may not be effective in the long-term. Both nations are members of the BRICS and have vested economic interests in the AIIB and NDB, and SE Asia. USA‘s impending withdrawal from Afghanistan will also enhance China‘s role in Central Asia, where we have invested heavily. Also, many of our North Indian rivers have their sources in China.
Therefore, we can see that although joining USA‘s ―pivot‖ may provide India with certain leverage against China, the long-term success of this policy is suspect. China‘s economic influence on India is also undeniable considering that our trade balance with China is negative. Keeping the pressure on China to counter any expansionist designs on India without antagonizing it by completely siding with US on its ―pivot‖ policy is the best course of action for India.
Do you think successive Indian governments have allowed Indo–Chinese relations to be determined by the trajectory of the US–Chinese relationship? In the light of recent related events, critically comment. (200 Words)
India and China are two ancient civilizations separated by mighty Himalayas and having cultural connections due to Buddhism and trade routes. Both saw imperialism in worst form, fought a war against each other as independent nations and today in this millennium both are often pitted as competitors in a zero sum game of economic progress and geo strategic arena.
US being the only pole now is having its hegemony somewhat challenged by China on ideological, economic and world trade fronts. Renminbi is also a threat for Dollar. The Asian region is the most dynamic one and US can ill afford to let China have its dominance here. So India is a natural ally in this regard and coincidences are stressed upon between Indian priorities and US generosities. India’s Act East policy and the US Pivot of Asia; Make in India and Defense Trade and Technology Initiative are seen as synergistic.
But US is not an ally on IPR issues and related topics. China, for its own part, has not assuaged Indian concerns. Its expansionist policies, stubbornness on border issues and all weather friendship with Pakistan including the recent corridor have hardly dressed the wounds of 1962 and failure of the Panchsheel.
India has its own priorities. Our stance, mostly independent, has been affected by both giants. But an aspirational India can ill afford its foreign policy or Chinese bilateral relations affected by a greater game. While allies are not permanent, neighbours are. So India is doing well to be part of banks led by China and at the same time scaling itself up to become a regional security provider in the strategic Indian Ocean. Besides, there is increased investment by Chinese in India. With India joining China led RCEP, there will be more traction in relationship.



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