Indians have not forgotten the 1962 India-China war, as a result of which India lost a part of its territory to China. Anti China sentiments among the Indians have existed ever since then, sometimes in a latent form and on other occasions in a more expressive form.
Incidents like, China opposing India’s entry into NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) and China openly supporting Pakistan in world forums, have not gone well with the Indians. The anti China sentiment is becoming increasingly prevalent among the Indians, which in turn is forcing the Indian government to redefine its foreign policy.
A founding member of the NAM (Non-Aligned movement), India ever since its independence in 1947, has been known for its ability to engage any world power on a win-win basis. India has played a pivotal role in the BRICS and the larger global transformation process that is currently underway. Throughout the era of the Cold War, India was never aligned with any of the two blocs, though one can argue that India did have an inclination towards the former Soviet Union. With the fall of the Soviet Union and with the rise of China and anti China sentiment within India, India increasingly seems to be inclining towards the USA and the west.
We are currently living in a world of flipping loyalties and allies. USA, which was ready to rally the world against India, in 1961 (Goa Acquisition) and 1971 (Bangladesh liberation) is now actively wooing the world in India’s favor. Pakistan, which was instrumental in bringing down the Soviet Union and was closely aligned to the USA till a few years back, is now siding with the Chinese mainly because of the growing proximity between the USA and India.
The US – India axis is not only rattling China and Pakistan, even Russia is closely monitoring the growing Indo – US ties. Russia has acknowledged the rise of China as a world power and is now cautious to make any move which might rattle the Chinese. Add the interests of the European Union, the Middle – East, Japan, Australia and other Pacific nations to the mix and a picture of two major blocs will start to form. The leaders of these two new blocs are China and US. And all other countries have either already aligned with one of them or are on the verge of doing so.
If politics is something which divides these countries, economics is the thing that brings them together. Economics considerations might be the only reason that has prevented these countries to directly confront each other.
India’s anti – China Pivot
The 1962 war, in which India lost a part of its territory to China, was the sole reason for the development of its military. The first Indian Prime Minister Mr. Nehru was against a powerful military but the 1962 war not only punctured his idea of “Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai” (Indians and Chinese are brothers), but his entire worldview.
Ever since then, there has been a cold sense of hostility between the Indians and the Chinese. This hostility was not only due to the 1962 humiliation faced by India but an array of other reasons as well. The other reasons include the Indo – China border dispute, China aiding and abetting Pakistan and Economic competition.
Interestingly, in the last two to three months, India has been very aggressive in displaying its anti China stand. Furthermore, all its actions seem to have a strong approval from Washington!
The “Logistic Service Agreement”
US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter visited India in April.
Whilst this visit was presented as a “routine visit” by most media outlets, Ashton Carter’s comments about the emerging US-Indian Strategic Partnership, which he predicted “will define the 21st century”, attracted a lot of attention.
Underpinning the rhetoric is the so-called “Logistic Support Agreement” (LSA) the US and India are currently negotiating with each other. This is essentially a blend of the “Host Mission Support Agreements” that NATO has concluded with Finland and Sweden and the transit agreement that NATO has recently agreed with Serbia.
Reuters quotes US military officials as saying that the LSA “would allow the two militaries to use each other’s land, air and naval bases for resupplies, repair and rest”.
What that means in practice is that the US has effectively acquired the right to deploy full-spectrum rotational forces anywhere throughout India on a pre-planned case-by-case basis in order to “contain China”.
Although not yet signed, Ashton Carter’s major achievement was that the two sides agreed “in principle” to conclude negotiations for the LSA in the near future. It is believed that only the amount of financial compensation and other related technical details remain to be agreed before the deal enters into force presumably later this year.
If this agreement is ever signed, India will definitively no longer be only inclined towards the US, it will actually ally with the US.
Aircraft Carrier Co-operation
In parallel with the LSA, the US announced that it would assist New Delhi to build its first domestically built aircraft carrier.
Ashton Carter revealed during his visit that the US will share state-of-the-art technology with its Indian counterparts, thus substantially deepening the emerging alliance between them.
It is an open secret that India’s navy will be used to “contain” China in the Indian Ocean Region. The unprecedented level of naval cooperation between the two sides therefore has to be seen through the geopolitical prism of this shared objective to “contain” China.
If symbolism has any meaning, it’s also important that the Indian Defense Minister invited Carter onto India’s premier aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya.
INS Vikramaditya was originally a Russian built ship. India has just demonstrated by this act of that it is ready to even alienate Russia in order to stand against China.
The US-Indian Naval Alliance
An important component of the larger US-Indian Strategic Partnership is the enhanced naval cooperation between the two countries, which – like every other part of their new alliance – is predicated on “containing China”.
Aside from the important aircraft carrier cooperation and other military-technical aspects that were discussed earlier, the two sides are reported to have discussed joint anti-submarine warfare strategies.
In addition India is expected to take part in US-led multilateral exercises in June, which will be held provocatively in the Philippine Sea. Although not directly adjacent to the South China Sea, this location is adjacent to the East China Sea where Beijing and Tokyo are locked in a bitter dispute over contested island territories.
India’s participation in anti-submarine warfare exercises so close to a potential conflict zone in tandem with the US, Japan, and other anti-Chinese navies is a worrying sign that India is serious about confronting China both in the Indian Ocean Region and right on Beijing’s own East Asian doorstep.
Hostility to CPEC
India views CPEC as just an extension of the String of Pearls concept of China.
CPEC links China with Pakistan and passes through the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir region, which India claims. India is trying to build an alternative route to Middle East by financing the development of the Chabahar port but there is still a lot of ground to cover in that respect.
Washington on the other hand would wish to cash on India’s inhibition against a China – Pak axis and use India’s clamor to tame and control other regional powers like Iran and Afghanistan.
China’s hostility to Dalai Lama is widely known. India had given refuge to him in 1959 which many believe was the reason of the 1962 Indo – China war.
Briefly, India extended a visa to Dolkun Isa, one of the most notorious “political” figures providing political cover for the Uighur terrorist movement. China had earlier accused this person of supporting terrorism and Interpol has a “red corner notice” on him. He was nonetheless invited by the Indian government to attend a broad gathering of anti-Chinese separatist and regime change groups hosted by the US-based “Initiatives For China/Citizen Power For China” – widely acknowledged to be CIA front organisation.
Just about all of the other anti-Chinese groups that were supposed to attend this conference – which included Tibetan, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolian, and “pro-democracy” groups – are also US-based and are equally hostile to the Chinese authorities.
The unavoidable conclusion is that India intentionally collaborated with the US to host US proxies in Dharamsala – a location provocatively close to the Chinese border.
Though India eventually cancelled Dolkun Isa’s visa, since New Delhi still allowed the conference to take place this has the look of a classic bait-and-switch exercise.
India under Narendra Modi, is becoming more and more aggressive in its foreign policy against China. How this will pan out, well, only future holds its answer.