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India’s China strategy needs to be debated

In this article, we will be discussing India’s China Strategy. So let us begin with a little backstory.

Indias-China-strategy-needs-to-be-debated

Background:

  • China renamed 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh, calling them “South Tibet” after approval from the State Council.
  • This is the third time China has renamed places in the disputed territory.
  • There has been no serious attempt by Beijing to resolve the stand-off at Galwan since June 2020.
  • China has provoked India on several occasions since then.
  • India has lost access to 26 out of 65 Patrolling Points in eastern Ladakh.
  • The loss of access has resulted in the loss of pasture lands in Gogra hills, the North Bank of Pangong Tso, and Kakjung areas.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi claims that no Indian territory has been occupied.
  • However, access to lands traditionally used by Indians is being surrendered routinely.

Factors hindering the Indian response:

  • The Indian aversion to denouncing the Chinese can be attributed to several factors.
  • One of these is the growing power differential between the two countries.
  • There is also uncertainty about the strategic actions of major powers such as the U.S. in case of a military stand-off.
  • Another factor is the military capability differential between India and China.
  • Pressure from Indian business interests anxious to safeguard trade is also a factor.
  • Lack of consensus within the various ministries of the government about the kind of response the Chinese threat merits is another factor.
  • Finally, there is a lack of political will within an increasingly hyper-nationalist, image-conscious Bharatiya Janata Party government.

Indian Response: 

  • The Indian government has responded to Chinese provocation with overcautious self-restraint.
  • The government has refused even basic discussions on China in Parliament citing national security concerns.
  • This approach overlooks China’s growing self-assertiveness on its land and sea borders.
  • Chinese actions border on belligerence and have set alarm bells ringing in Asian capitals and Washington.

Lessons from history: 

  • Nehru envisioned India and China as the two major South Asian civilizations.
  • India was one of the first countries to recognize the Communist government in China due to this vision.
  • India softened its line on China’s invasion and occupation of Tibet.
  • India also overlooked China’s encroachment on its borders and cartographical aggression. This was all done in the pursuit of Chinese goodwill.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s current policy of Chinese appeasement seems similar to Nehru’s approach. 

China’s image building exercise:

  • China is a one-party state and doesn’t have to worry about public approval.
  • The Chinese Communist Party has built its domestic credibility by boosting its international image.
  • The “peaceful rise” theory used to anchor its image, but now it’s about projecting strength, determination, and economic might.
  • China is unwilling to compromise on what it sees as its core national interests.

 

Possible UPSC CSE Mains questions

  1. Discuss the factors hindering India’s response to Chinese provocation and the lessons that can be learned from history. 
  2. Analyze India’s approach to dealing with Chinese aggression in recent times, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses. 
  3. Critically evaluate India’s current policy of Chinese appeasement, drawing parallels with Nehru’s approach to dealing with China. 
  4. Discuss the impact of China’s growing self-assertiveness on its land and sea borders on the regional and global order, and suggest ways in which India can respond to this challenge. 
  5. Examine China’s image building exercise and its impact on international relations, with a focus on India-China relations. 
  6. Assess the role of major powers such as the US and Russia in shaping India’s China strategy, and suggest measures that India can take to safeguard its strategic interests. 
  7. Evaluate the implications of China’s growing economic and military might for India, and suggest ways in which India can respond to this challenge. 
  8. Discuss the historical and cultural factors that shape India-China relations, and assess the prospects for cooperation and conflict between the two countries in the future.   

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