The current global order is uncertain, ambiguous, and dependent on multiple externalities. These variables tend to impact the power structure and play a vital role in determining how power will be seen by nations in the future. The pandemic has intensified tensions, divisions, and ideologies; it has made the world more polarized than ever. Thus, any actions taken by major world powers are looked at with greater suspicion, tension, and anticipation of a new cold war. This has led to alternative sources of power emerging in the Asia-Pacific, with a renewed focus being put on India.
China has emerged as one of the most significant nations in world history. It battled poverty, population, and economic crisis and is now a contender to be the leader of the new world order. This post-pandemic era has led to new winners and losers: the American economy has seen a decline, whereas the Chinese economy has seen resilience and recovery. Some claim that China is finally “showing its true colours” and is essentially hijacking the western system of leadership (Swaine and Micheal, 17). Thus, this then would question China’s ultimate aim of world peace. In cognizance of this, the United States of America has released a “New Indo Pacific Strategy” to bolster its military presence in the South China Sea. Other actions of the USA include an attempt to increase the G-7 to G-11 without including China in it.
In his first address to the General Assembly as president, Joe Biden pledged that the United States was not “seeking a new cold war or a world divided into rigid blocs.” The emphasis America has put on marine diplomacy, especially after the threat of Chinese advances in the South China Sea, reflects that both nations are self-aware of the consequences of war. However, India should examine the opportunities presented by the ambitious United States in Asia-Pacific and capitalize on them by acting as a global order leader. It is in India’s vested interest to continue to act as a set-off measure against China to protect her own internal security while still conducting peace talks, missions, etc. with China as it is India’s neighbour and still has mutual interests in key areas like climate change, investment policies, etc.
The mystery, he argues, is not why the relationship between Washington and Beijing has so dramatically deteriorated but why Americans ever thought a different outcome was possible. China has now in fact come with its propaganda of alternative structures of power like the Belt and Road Initiative, and Asia Infrastructure Investment BaChina has finally arrived with its propaganda of alternative power structures such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank.
A Literature Review
It is critical to understand the terms “assertive” China and “disengaged” US. Assertive can have connotations of a newly forceful, “triumphalist,” or brash tone in foreign policy pronouncements (Chand et al.). Western observers attribute China’s economic success to Chinese perceptions of a shift in the global balance of power from the West to the East, as well as the United States’ gradual decline as a global superpower, as it is gradually replaced by a multipolar global system that gives China far greater influence. In the wake of such active initiatives, the United States, which is expected to counter the force, is increasingly turning inwards. The number of internal imbalances, structural fallacies, and attention needed for domestic issues is way more important than maintaining the external image abroad. The citizens of the West demand dignified lives and believe that resources should be invested in their country rather than spent elsewhere. In this context, acts of generous goodwill by the west are perceived as acts of weakness by China.
The pivotal area of contention where China’s growing role and the United States’ declining role occurred was marked by the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. This crisis showed investors and leaders abroad that even the “global superpower” isn’t immune to economic distress, and alternative areas of investment are needed; China could be a possible contender (Malik, 355).
The first phase began immediately following the 2008 financial crisis, when China reoriented its foreign policy to fit its expanding global ambitions. China extended its global prominence without considering the consequences of its actions on India. As a result, its new foreign strategy was seen with scepticism in New Delhi, raising concerns that China was aiming to undermine India’s interests. In turn, New Delhi’s response to these measures elicited a hostile response from Beijing, which was unsure how its new foreign policy affected India’s international interests. This series of contacts was the first sign of the developing misperceptions and subsequent lack of trust that characterize Sino-Indian relations. The second section investigates the new leadership in Beijing and New Delhi as well as the implications of this (Gokhale, Vijay).
China and India
Historically, in China, the elements of Indian engagement with China included, inter alia, reduction of rhetoric, resumption of summit-level and other political exchanges, reopening of trade and commercial exchanges, relaxation of restrictions on people-to-people contacts, confidence-building measures in the border areas; the normalization of military-to-military relations; and greater cooperation in multilateral areas.
Both nations regard themselves as civilizational powers and expect others to recognise this. Misconceptions sometimes lead to one nation attributing objectives to the acts or conduct of the other country that was not the latter’s goal, resulting in mistrust. In 2008, China opposed India’s efforts to become a member of the NSG (Nuclear Supplier’s Group). In turn, however, China robustly leveraged its alliance with Russia and built its nuclear arsenal as a strategic move to remain a strong negotiating power. As a result, before addressing particular topics of concern, both parties may need to revise their underlying conceptions of the other side and establish a fresh viewpoint.
Another related issue with China is regarding data control and privacy. An assertive entity like China has an incentive to test its powers by intervening in key areas like the privacy of foreign companies (e.g., Google). This issue of data privacy is also a reason why India decided to ban Chinese applications and sent a strong warning against such actions.
Also, in international institutions, China is beginning to receive less support as it continues to criticize the UNSC, the UN, and funding institutions like the IMF. India, for example, though it has been vocal about reforms, tends to empower nations, considers them as equals and respects them. India, with its partnership with the US, with respect to blocs like QUAD and G-11, should aim to increase its foothold in the international arena and continue to represent developing nations. As China has border settlement issues with its neighbours, India can also serve as a diplomatic force for neighbouring nations and act as a force to reckon with (Jash, Amrita 82). The segmented United States, since it has less incentive to intervene in the Asia-Pacific, can continue to spread its ideals and virtues via its partners, a key partner being India.
However, it is important to understand that while Europe remains a big trading partner for India, Europe cannot force or coerce India to take a stance. It must grow out of the perspective that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems, but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems. As scholars might point out, the EU will require a huge focus on the EU as the Russia-Ukraine crisis has intensified rifts and will not have a larger incentive to have a global presence.
With the actor analysis performed, it then becomes important to understand that India remains integral to the global function. Its core ideas of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam, the world being a global family, along with its aspirations for world peace and security, give it an incentive to have a global stake in issues and help in combating them. The continued investments India has made in neighbouring countries are a sign that India is committed to ensuring stability is maintained.
Another problem with China is its inability to comply with international rules. In adopting the zero-sum mentality of a rising power in a thoroughly realist world, China is thus presaging growing rivalry and confrontation. “dealing with the international situation and international affairs,” but also “to have more influential power in politics.” (Ian Tong) (nuli shi woguo zai zhengzhishang geng you yi ngxiangli).
Role of India in Global Governance
India plays a huge role in ensuring it keeps up with the military and economic prowess of China to ensure deterrence and safety in the Asia-Pacific. The QUAD (Quadliteral Security Dialogue) is a perfect 21st-century grouping that achieves its purpose. The South China Sea will soon be an important theatrical arena of struggle. Hence, marine diplomacy and multilateral capacity building are important. Hence, members of the QUAD have a shared Indo-Pacific vision based on a rules-based international order (Grare, Frédéric). India has symbolic, ideological, and strategic reasons to counter the growth of China and maintain multi-lateral partnerships:
Symbolically, the people of India, after the Galwan Valley clash, have a negative impression of China, as the clash turned out to be one of the most violent confrontations.
According to Maxwell, the fundamental symbol of a modern nation is the use of well-defined territory, and China exploited this to showcase its symbol of modernity.
According to Systems Theory, the focus on the individualities of states and individual leaders is relatively less when compared to the international analytical structure. In whatever way the system is made, it is essentially made into an anarchy.
The 1962 Sino-Indian War displayed accurately that territorial claims made in an ambitious approach will only lead to the use of force and direct conflict (Ian Tong) (nuli shi woguo zai zhengzhishang geng you yi ngxiangli). ontation. In spite of agreements (such as the Panchsheela Agreement) and warm relations as a prelude to avoiding warfare, China has proven that the use of diplomacy proved to be futile as the symbolic identity mixed with a culturally backed approach led to growing uncertainty about the actions of China.
The Sino-Indian Wars fought meant that China had brought greater demands on the table for Aksai Chin, and the Sino-Indian Wars fought reminded India about how suspicious and arrogant China is towards India.
Ideologically, India is the largest democracy in the world. China wishes to pursue an authoritarian regime, one based on very little transparency and freedom of expression. Also, with respect to data laws and privacy, China inherently wishes to have government interference and regulation as part of its modus operandi and has received backlash for the same. On the one hand, China wishes to remain aggressive, rule over its allies, and humble its enemies. On the other hand, India wishes to remain supportive, synergise with its allies, and be strategic with its enemies.
Strategically, China wishes to maintain its spot in the global supply chain and in the export of trade and services. To do so, it has financially provided infrastructure to Africa and is providing loans without considering the default risks of the region. Also, it aims to benefit from privatisation and consumerism by pushing entrepreneurs to comply with global standards and continuing to maintain Shanghai as a hub for business and development. India wishes to receive and make its own bases self-sufficient. It wishes to invite FDI and make sure “Athmanirbhar Bharat” counters the dragon, China, in terms of GDP growth and scale of operations in the service and manufacturing sectors.
It is also noteworthy to understand that Chin’s behaviour of being assertive has been coupled with being proactive. China is deftly using the term “urban settlements” to increase its territorial claim and therefore reduce army patrolling by neighbouring countries by claiming it would cause “civil harm” to them. In areas surrounding Kashmir, the Armed Forces find it difficult to assess if the settlements are actually sleeper cells and are at the mercy of China, as it can only take the benefit of the doubt. However, this issue of being proactive is more evident in the East China Sea. The ramped-up-island building activities in this region call for greater scrutiny and suspicion about how quickly China is building infrastructure and laying claims to territorial sovereignty (Pant, Harsh V, 64).
India’s Rising Competency
The role of India as a global force has never been felt. With a disengaged America and a damaged Europe, the world looks to Asia for hope. India has come as a major power to hold diplomatic talks and resolve matters of grave concern. Partnerships and synergy are one key feature in competency building, as the Malabar Naval Exercise received participation from Australia, the USA, and Japan. China’s encirclement policy calls for greater counterbalance measures, especially in the Indian Ocean, where greater patrolling is necessary. In terms of arms transfers and military spending collaboration, American arms exports have risen from nowhere to about $15 billion USD.
China is interested in moving forward with implementing its encirclement plan by dividing the Indo-pacific region into five major portions. The modern 21st century has seen a sudden shift in the foreign policy concerns of countries worldwide, making Africa an important strategic ground and a battle zone for world powers. Countries like China, India, the United States, and the European Union have now engaged themselves on this continent to gain geopolitical influence. According to the official data of OPEC, Africa has 9.6% of the global oil output, 90% of the world’s platinum supply, and 35% of the world’s uranium supply.
All these aforementioned actions help in proving one fact: India is on its pathway to being a global-level leader (Hakro et al., 3150). Its actions have far-reaching consequences, and India’s unique ability to manage uncertainty and ambiguity adds to its partners’ trust in India.
India should not be forced to choose a stance between America and her allies and China in the age of New Cold War. It is important to emphasize that the world is not resurfacing back to bipolarity but has multiple magnitudes of multi-polar world order. a protracted international rivalry, for “cold in this sense is as old as history itself.” Some became hot, some didn’t: no; the; law guarantees either outcome. During the Cold War, we capitalized because it originated and popularized the term. China is chiefly a land power, beset by an ancient dilemma. If, in search of strategic depth, it tries to expand its perimeters, it is likely to overstretch its capabilities and provoke resistance from anxious neighbors. If to regain solvency, it contracts its perimeters, it risks inviting in enemies. Even behind great walls, uneasy lie the heads of those whose boundaries remain unfixed. China should be prepared to abandon any notion of restoring confidence by divorcing the border issue from the greater bilateral relationship. The trade relationship of China and India should be improved, and the role of partners should be equally emphasized so that no confrontations take place, i.e., China partnering with Pakistan and India partnering with the USA.
- Swaine, Michael D. “Perceptions of an assertive China.” China Leadership Monitor 32.2 (2010): 1-19.
- Chand, Bibek, and Lukas K. Danner, eds. “New Challenges and Opportunities in European-Asian Relations: Navigating an Assertive China and a Retrenching US.” (2021).
- Malik, Mohan. “India Balances China.” Asian Politics & Policy 4.3 (2012): 345-376.
- Gokhale, Vijay. “The road from Galwan: the future of India-China Relations.” Carnegie India 10 (2021)
- Jash, Amrita. “The QUAD factor in the Indo-Pacific and the role of India.” Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs 4.02 (2021): 78-85.
- Ian Tong, “The 11th Meeting of Chinese Diplomatic Envoys Convenes in Beijing; Hu Jintao Makes an Important Speech; Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang, and Zhou Yongkang Attend; Wen Jiabao Makes a Speech,” Xinhua Domestic Service, July 20, 2009, Open Source Center (OSC) CPP20090720005007. Both phrases are apparently paraphrases of Hu’s actual remarks.
- Grare, Frédéric. India turns east: International engagement and US-China rivalry. Oxford University Press, 2017.
- Pant, Harsh V. “India in the Asia–Pacific: Rising ambitions with an eye on China.” Asia-Pacific Review 14.1 (2007): 54-71.
- Das, Angana. “India’s neighbourhood policy: Challenges and prospects.” Jindal Journal of International Affairs 4.1 (2016): 18-37.
- Hakro, Humera, Ali Khan Ghumro, and Jamshed Ali Baloch. “DIVERGENCE AND CONVERGENCE BETWEEN CHINA INDIA RELATIONS IN POST-COLD WAR ERA.” PalArch’s Journal of Archaeology of Egypt/Egyptology 18.10 (2021): 3146-3155.