Should India shift its approach towards Chinese aggression in 2018?

Source: Nehzan Azeez Ekkery | Published on 6th March 2018, 2:19 PM | Public Voice | Legal Corner |

India’s foreign policy approach must be more than event management and marketing displays in the domestic sphere. Undoubtedly, India enjoys the rising goodwill as a potential offset against enormous gravitational pull of the belligerent Chinese in the Indian Pacific region. With recent Doklam stand-off, the Indian policy to retain its credibility towards the all-weather ally, Bhutan seemed quite promising. Although the present state of affairs in Doklam requires some clarity, the Indian government claimed the episode as the victory of its “quiet diplomacy”, besides the general international perception of the Indians facing down the Chinese incursions with verve and sophistication.

The Doklam event, alongside India’s prospect as an alternative to the increasingly assertive China in the Asia Pacific region has positioned the country on a decently negotiable platform. Further, Chinese interest in steady acceleration of its investment in India for it sees the latter as a momentous opportunity in economic terms, which in turn could be crystallized well to put China on peaceful behavior. In this race, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is going to play a vital role in either country’s quest for larger influence in the region. However, the figures as suggested by ASEAN’s External Trade Statistics are quite stark, for India’s trade with ASEAN partners stood at $71 Billion, whereas the same with China at $571 Billion. Nonetheless, connectivity with ASEAN nations that India pursues, combined with their psychological dissatisfaction against China, might supersede the economic thrust of China.

India needs to be extremely cautious of any foreign policy moves and maintain the reasonable posture of balance as it has done throughout history. As powers like Russia and China look to create a multipolar world by challenging the Western dominance, United States will be betting big on India as a formidable force to keep China in check. But the shifting geopolitical dynamics that witnesses the rise of China, together with its aggressive approach towards India in companionship with Pakistan might endanger India’s relationship with Russia, which is the most powerful Chinese ally. However, Russia attempts to maintain cordial security relations with the trio of India-Pakistan-China for broader geopolitical aspirations. Moreover, the US must seek stronger ties with India in the wake of tensions with Pakistan.

As for the Doklam chapter, considering the issue being seemingly of minor significance, a major reason for China flexing its muscles against Thimpu could have been to hamper Indo-Bhutanese age-old alliance by trying to discredit India, resorting to intimidating tactics. In the story, India clearly had much more at stake and an immense opportunity to up the ante in its pursuit of dominance than China. Nonetheless, in order to check any unprecedented and undesired activities from the Chinese, India’s strengthening relationship with Israel either ideologically or militarily, harmonized with a far stronger alliance with United States shall be of momentous relevance. With no alternatives, US realizes the long-term strategic geopolitical goals which its absolute loyalty with India has to offer. Thus, meticulous crystallization of potential alliances and a discreet shift in its approach would be constructive to mellow down the Chinese antagonism.

(The author, Nehzan Azeez Ekkery is a final semester law student at the School of Law, Christ University, Bangalore.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of SahilOnline and SahilOnline does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.


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