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Kumar Gautam asked: What could be the implications of the US-China relations, both positive and negative, for India?

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  • Rup Narayan Das replies: USA and China already have a very robust relationship, though at times there have been difficult phases as well. Their economies are now intertwined to the extent that they are often described as ‘conjoined Siamese twins.’ There are a number of dialogue mechanisms touching the whole gamut of the bilateral relationship including political, economic, defence, military and educational. The leaders of the two countries interact at various levels, both bilateral as well as on the margins of multilateral meetings. Although the USA has not yet lifted the ban on the sale of defence equipment imposed after the Tiananmen Square incident, it however agreed for the transfer of some advance technology after the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the signing of the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué. American brands today are household names in China. The number of Chinese students in the USA has surpassed that of India. Hollywood movies too are gaining popularity in China.

    The two countries, however, have differences on issues pertaining Dalai Lama, South China Sea and East China Sea, human rights, etc., but these are occasional hiccups and both the countries have been able to manage their relationship, describing it as a ‘new model of relationship.’

    As far as India is concerned, both the USA and China do recognise that India has a strategic autonomy in its foreign policy. New Delhi maintains that India and China do not have any designs to contain each other and that the two countries are too big to be contained by others, and also that the relationship between the two countries is not aimed against any other country. In this regard, one could refer to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s speech, India and China in the New Era, delivered at the Central Party School in Beijing in October 2013.

    At the end of the day, India’s relationship with China, or for that matter with the USA, has its own dynamics; similarly, China’s relationship with the USA too has its own dynamics. The triangular relationship should be seen in the context of the changing geo-politics and dynamics of mutual economic interdependence, rather than through the prism of the Cold War era.

    Posted on August 27, 2014