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Danish Mallick asked: Is the Indian strategy to align with the US to balance China the only or the best option left?

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  • Prashant Kumar Singh replies: It would be wrong to presuppose that India considers China as a threat, and prefers an alliance with the United States (US) to counter this threat. India attaches highest priority to having good and friendly relations with China, and considers it as among its most important relationships. Various statements issued by the Indian leaders and the Ministry of External Affairs testify this assertion. However, at the same time, one cannot wish away the complexity of relationship between the two countries. The aforesaid is a nuanced description of the relationship, which on the one hand signifies the desire to improve relations in the economic, cultural, scientific and technological, and in the political realm to the extent possible, and the persistence of strategic mistrust on the other.

    For managing mistrust, India has employed a variety of policy instruments. India has kept the focus on expanding the scope for trade and investment, creating a comprehensive dialogue mechanism across the spectrum of the relationship including on the issue of boundary dispute, promoting people-to-people exchanges, and establishing frameworks for cooperation on issues of common interest to further deepen the trust between the two nations.

    On a realpolitik note, India has created a web of strategic partnerships with various countries including major powers that too have stakes in the Asian politics. However, every such partnership has its own logic and is in the positive territory of India’s relations with the country in question. Reducing the India-US or the India-Japan strategic partnership to the China Factor, viewing it as a strategy to forge an anti-China alliance, would be a gross under-appreciation of the various facets to such partnerships. Thus, I personally neither see China as a threat to India’s security, nor do I look at the India-US partnership as an alliance against China.

    Posted on February 11, 2016