The recent border conflict that resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers on the India–China border has changed the region’s power dynamics, according to experts, who say the conflict has made it impossible for India to ever go back to a pro-China narrative, bringing it closer to the United States.
Chandra Mishra, a New Delhi-based former journalist and current political analyst, told The Epoch Times that India has no option left but to seek U.S. support to stand up to Chinese hegemony.
“As PM Modi’s BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] is a nationalist party, and his main vote bank is based on staunch patriotism, the aggression of China on its border is bound to affect his iconic image in the country, and hence the outcome on the 2024 election,” said Mishra.
This emerging internal political situation, intense anti-China sentiment due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, and the Galwan incident on June 15 that involved the killing of Indian soldiers have had an irreparable impact on the democratic country’s relationship with its communist neighbor.
“It will be difficult for any Indian government, let alone one led by someone who has talked about making India powerful, to say we can go back to the old policy on China,” said Aparna Pande, director of the Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia at the Hudson Institute. “The key question, however, will be that Delhi will need to think strategically to sustain the economic and military dimensions.”
To prevent further escalation, the militaries of the two countries have created a buffer zone where the bloody conflict took place, and five meetings have taken place between the two countries’ top-level brass, but no resolution has yet been achieved.
“Talks are underway to resolve the border dispute, but to what extent it can be resolved, I cannot guarantee. I can assure you, not one inch of our land can be taken by any power in the world. If a solution can be found by talks, there is nothing better,” said India’s defense minister, Rajnath Singh, while visiting the region on July 17.
US and India Need Each Other
China’s increasing aggression on the disputed territory with India was a bullying tactic to prevent India from forming closer relations with the United States, according to experts. With the killing of 20 Indian soldiers, however, it has ended up doing the opposite—bringing India and United States closer than ever before.
“China’s continued aggressive behavior, twice in three years, has convinced most people in Delhi that balance between the U.S. and China isn’t the way to go. China may have thought it has taught India a lesson and India will now move away from the U.S., the opposite is what will happen. India is and will further deepen partnerships with the U.S. and Asian allies,” Pande said.
Mishra said India, with its 1.32 billion consumers, is the largest market in the world, unlike China, which isn’t an open market.
“China, being the big brother in the South Asia region, wants to have absolute control over the market here and sees the U.S. as a threat,” he said while explaining reasons behind China’s bullying tactics on the disputed border.
“This is a critical juncture in world politics when both the U.S. and India need each other. Because, if China is allowed to establish its monopoly in South Asia, it will be strong enough to challenge the global leadership of the U.S.”
Pande said the two countries’ need for each other would translate into the United States helping India to stand up militarily and economically to China in the region, and that alone will be a help to the United States.
“The U.S. can help India by supplying it more defense equipment, more supply parts for defense equipment, defense equipment both for mountainous terrain and the sea and to boost India–U.S. naval collaboration to put pressure on China,” Pande said.
She said, economically, the United States should help India by encouraging companies that are leaving China due to the COVID-19 pandemic to invest in India.
“The United States should boost high tech collaboration and, through partners and agencies like World Bank or International Monetary Fund or Asian Development Bank, help build infrastructure in India and South Asia [instead of China doing so via the Belt and Road Initiative].”