India has to plan for a hot war where friends are few. US-China cold war won’t help it

The term ‘cold war’ is again being thrown around as analysts, politicians and anxious businesspersons try to understand the brangling between the US and China, with each closing the other’s consulates. That is a practice that is unusual, even between combatants like India and Pakistan.

Alongside, news channels were reporting a ‘rare’ dual exercise by two US carrier strike groups in the South China Sea in mid-July, with some 120 aircraft and 12,000 military personnel deployed. The public noise seems to indicate that the US is ready to substantially increase pressure and risk escalation, at a time when China is being viewed negatively by almost every country.

All of this should, on the surface, make it easier for India to manage its way out of the Ladakh flare-up. But the Chinese are showing themselves slow to disengage, serving to underline that things are never quite what they seem in international politics.

Although US officials have made statements aplenty condemning Chinese incursions across the Line of Actual Control, this doesn’t seem to have affected Beijing’s actions overmuch.

A careful analysis of Donald Trump’s recent policies vis-à-vis China reveals that the primary driver is strong self-interest in diverse areas, most of which have nothing at all to do with our core interests.

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