India’s dominance in South Asia is due to its large geographical area, economic might, military strength, and strategic positioning over the Indian ocean. But the coming of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has shaken up this hegemonic balance and given other, smaller regional nations a chance to rise up against the dominant influence in the region. China has been penetrating regional diplomacy in South Asia, all the while keeping in mind its larger aim of further securing its sources in the West. For countries in the region such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the BRI is seen as a more neutral, if not benign force and has pushed India to become more considerate of changes and more responsible for its own actions. With the rise of China, many scholars and think tanks have aggressively researched this issue and proposed theories such as the “String of Pearls,” which has become a topic of discussion and worry not only for India but also for the nations that have become a part of China’s projects. This article will delve into the issue and discuss how China’s rise in South Asia has changed the course of India’s regional and bilateral policies and relations. Although China may seem to have a drastic impact on India’s position, it has not panned out that way. India has been a dominant power in the region and unilateral in its diplomacy, but the rise of China gives smaller nations power at the negotiating table with India and thus pushes India to place more focus on neighbors.
The String of Pearls concept informs a general viewpoint about the strategic end of Chinese investments, but it seems to lack the explanatory power to flesh out the dynamics involved to alter the balance of power in the region. To add some heft to the analysis, I utilize Dr. Jeremy Garlick’s concept of geopositional balancing to supplement our understanding of the String of Pearls beyond merely that of another buzzword. This article deepens the knowledge of China’s activities in the Indian Ocean by also utilizing an understudied variant of balancing. I examine China’s engagement with Sri Lanka as a case study.
Volume 04 Issue 5 - Fall 2021
India’s quest for attaining superior military technology has materialized in New Delhi’s purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia. Adhering to the principles of offensive realism, India is aspiring to accumulate maximum power and establish its hegemony in the region. The Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) obliges the US president to impose sanctions on any state making a significant arms deal with Russia. However, considering India’s strategic partnership with the United States, New Delhi is confident that it can circumvent CAATSA sanctions and secure a waiver. India’s acquisition of this state-of-the-art technology will have a negative impact on the strategic stability of the region, providing a robust false sense of security to the Indian policy makers to execute lethal adventures in the region, with the assurance that India is invulnerable from any retaliatory attack. India’s acquisition of the S-400 will alter the strategic stability momentarily; however, Pakistan has the capability to counter this perceived advantage and rebalance the shift in strategic stability.
In this third installment of Indo-Pacific Perspectives, Dr. Peter Harris and his assembled scholars tackle the issue of Sino-Indian border conflicts.
China and India’s rise over the last two decades has enabled them to wield increasing amounts of influence on the global stage. Even though they share several characteristics—including being the world’s most populous nations, the fastest-growing major economies, and developing status—their relationship has been fraught with skepticism and hostility since their war of 1962.
The Chinese concept of sovereignty is a tool of diplomacy and statecraft; a way of preserving China’s international image as an historical victim of foreign conquest even as it pursues its territorial disputes with growing confidence and power.
It is quite evident from the history of Pakistan’s relationship with China that Pakistan views Sino-Indian border disputes through a Chinese lens. This is not just because of Pakistani-Chinese friendship, of course, but also because of the rivalry and territorial disputes that have marred India-Pakistan relations since their independence.
The border dispute is one component of the Sino-Indian relationship. In recent years, unwanted skirmishes and clashes along the LAC have been highly politicized, exacerbating antagonistic domestic dynamics as well as furthering the perception of an international competition. To continue intensifying cooperation among China, India, and the rest of Asia, leaders would do well to remember that “divide and rule” remains a powerful strategy in world politics. Indian and Chinese leaders should each avoid falling into that trap.
The conflation of the China–India water dispute with larger territorial and political disputes exacerbates water as a source of conflict between them.
Dr. Harris introduces this issue of Indo-Pacific Perspectives, in which six scholars—some based in the region, the rest longtime analysts of Sino-Indian relations—put the recent border Sino-Indian border clashes in context.
The crisis that began at the disputed China–India border in early 2020 was not the first—and almost certainly will not be the last—standoff at the Line of Actual Control.
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