An expansionist, economically and militarily strong China looms large over India’s north-eastern border, its Indian Ocean neighbourhood, and its ties with the US and Russia. If India wants to counter Chinese imperialism, it must face squarely the complexity of the security threat posed by China.
Last June’s clashes in the Galwan valley highlighted China’s aggressiveness on their frontier. Apparently neither country wants war. But diplomatic dialogue is problematic because China has claimed sovereignty over Galwan. That makes it hard to deal with the Galwan issue as a conflict that can be resolved through diplomatic bargaining.
Since becoming Prime Minister in 2014, Narendra Modi has held 18 meetings – plus a virtual meeting at November’s Brics summit – with President Xi Jinping. But personal summitry lacking strong economic and military ballast fails to deliver political and economic gain or add up to a well-crafted strategy for dealing with China.
Diplomatic leverage reflects realities on the ground. In India’s friendly neighbourhood, China has extended its influence and established itself as the top investor – especially in badly needed infrastructure – in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.