Is India, a Close Ally of the US, About to Side With China?

CommentaryAccording to a recent article in Asia Times, India has grown “increasingly skeptical about American policies and statesmanship.” The United States once presented a compelling picture to the world. Today, however, the picture that the United States now presents is the opposite of convincing, according to the article. The United States has become a “battleground of tribalism and culture wars.” Once an attractive prospect, this “aging superpower” is in decline, with “dwindling influence globally.” Because of this, India is looking elsewhere for support and potential business. By elsewhere, I mean China. As the Asia Times piece noted, India now realizes “that it has no real partnership with the US or the European Union” and that its relationships with the two were, and still are, “transactional.” For both the United States and the European Union, maintaining good ties with India cannot be emphasized enough. After all, India is the fastest-growing major economy in the world. Some authors argue (rather convincingly) that India will become the next great superpower. This fact is not lost on China. Chinese state-run media Global Times recently published an intriguing piece. “China and India,” it reads, “share common interests on many fronts.” It then went on to condemn those in “the West” who criticized India “for reportedly considering buying Russian oil at a discounted price.” Back off, it continued, this “is India’s legitimate right.” The piece finished by calling on Beijing and New Delhi to “mend their fraught relations.” Will New Delhi accept the invitation? Don’t be surprised if it does. But why would India embrace China? Two years ago, Chinese and Indian troops began engaging in hostile face-offs at various locations along the Sino-Indian border. In June 2020, both sides engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Lives were lost. Three months later, for the first time in 45 years, both sides exchanged gunfire. Since then, tensions have been extremely high. But, as we all know only too well, politics is a fickle business. Yesterday’s enemy has the potential to become tomorrow’s friend. If India does embrace China, one must remember that the embrace would be borne more out of desperation than desire. China and the United States are the two biggest players on the world stage. If one begins to lose its pulling power and the other increases its own, then it’s only natural that India reconsiders where its loyalties lie. Moreover, India now finds itself in a position of genuine power, with both Beijing and Washington knocking on its door. In the past, India was only too willing to open the door to the United States. However, times appear to be changing. According to M K Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat, Narendra Modi, India’s 14th and current prime minister, “is looking in all directions—Russia and China included—for partnerships.” India, one must remember, has very close ties with Russia. Vir Sanghvi, a well-respected Indian author, recently wrote the following: “When it comes to this [Ukraine] conflict, our hands are tied.” Why? Because “Russia is our major supplier of weapons.” Moreover, he added, it “isn’t just the arms we have ordered from the Russians. It is also spares, ammunition, and maintenance for our existing equipment. To stand against Russia would be to debilitate our armed forces. We have no real choice but to avoid criticising the Russians.” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends a meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi, India, on Dec. 6, 2021. (Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters) Xinhua, another mouthpiece of the Chinese regime, recently argued that “China-India diplomatic relations will significantly ease and enter a recovery period.” During this period, “China and India will realize the exchange of visits of diplomatic officials in a relatively short time.” Staring into their crystal ball, the authors believe “Chinese officials will go to India first.” Shortly after, India’s foreign minister “will come to China.” As unpalatable as the above lines may sound, India and China are neighbors. Meanwhile, the United States is situated on the other side of the world. Within the realm of social psychology, the proximity principle suggests that individuals form interpersonal relations with those close by (think flatmates, work colleagues, etc.). In geopolitics, perhaps the proximity principle also plays a role. The US Has Lost Its Appeal In 2018, the scholar Gordon Adams wrote that since the end of World War II, American diplomacy “has been essential to multinational agreements on trade, climate, regional security, and arms control.” The United States could “claim to be at the center of a “rules-based international order.” Why? Because it was. “Those days,” wrote Adams, “are gone.” Indeed. In the four years since this piece was written, China has grown significantly stronger. On the other hand, the United States appears to have grown w

Is India, a Close Ally of the US, About to Side With China?

Commentary

According to a recent article in Asia Times, India has grown “increasingly skeptical about American policies and statesmanship.” The United States once presented a compelling picture to the world.

Today, however, the picture that the United States now presents is the opposite of convincing, according to the article. The United States has become a “battleground of tribalism and culture wars.” Once an attractive prospect, this “aging superpower” is in decline, with “dwindling influence globally.”

Because of this, India is looking elsewhere for support and potential business. By elsewhere, I mean China.

As the Asia Times piece noted, India now realizes “that it has no real partnership with the US or the European Union” and that its relationships with the two were, and still are, “transactional.”

For both the United States and the European Union, maintaining good ties with India cannot be emphasized enough. After all, India is the fastest-growing major economy in the world. Some authors argue (rather convincingly) that India will become the next great superpower. This fact is not lost on China.

Chinese state-run media Global Times recently published an intriguing piece.

“China and India,” it reads, “share common interests on many fronts.” It then went on to condemn those in “the West” who criticized India “for reportedly considering buying Russian oil at a discounted price.”

Back off, it continued, this “is India’s legitimate right.” The piece finished by calling on Beijing and New Delhi to “mend their fraught relations.”

Will New Delhi accept the invitation?

Don’t be surprised if it does.

But why would India embrace China?

Two years ago, Chinese and Indian troops began engaging in hostile face-offs at various locations along the Sino-Indian border. In June 2020, both sides engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Lives were lost. Three months later, for the first time in 45 years, both sides exchanged gunfire. Since then, tensions have been extremely high.

But, as we all know only too well, politics is a fickle business. Yesterday’s enemy has the potential to become tomorrow’s friend.

If India does embrace China, one must remember that the embrace would be borne more out of desperation than desire. China and the United States are the two biggest players on the world stage. If one begins to lose its pulling power and the other increases its own, then it’s only natural that India reconsiders where its loyalties lie.

Moreover, India now finds itself in a position of genuine power, with both Beijing and Washington knocking on its door. In the past, India was only too willing to open the door to the United States. However, times appear to be changing.

According to M K Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat, Narendra Modi, India’s 14th and current prime minister, “is looking in all directions—Russia and China included—for partnerships.”

India, one must remember, has very close ties with Russia.

Vir Sanghvi, a well-respected Indian author, recently wrote the following: “When it comes to this [Ukraine] conflict, our hands are tied.”

Why?

Because “Russia is our major supplier of weapons.” Moreover, he added, it “isn’t just the arms we have ordered from the Russians. It is also spares, ammunition, and maintenance for our existing equipment. To stand against Russia would be to debilitate our armed forces. We have no real choice but to avoid criticising the Russians.”

Epoch Times Photo
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends a meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi, India, on Dec. 6, 2021. (Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters)

Xinhua, another mouthpiece of the Chinese regime, recently argued that “China-India diplomatic relations will significantly ease and enter a recovery period.” During this period, “China and India will realize the exchange of visits of diplomatic officials in a relatively short time.”

Staring into their crystal ball, the authors believe “Chinese officials will go to India first.” Shortly after, India’s foreign minister “will come to China.”

As unpalatable as the above lines may sound, India and China are neighbors. Meanwhile, the United States is situated on the other side of the world. Within the realm of social psychology, the proximity principle suggests that individuals form interpersonal relations with those close by (think flatmates, work colleagues, etc.).

In geopolitics, perhaps the proximity principle also plays a role.

The US Has Lost Its Appeal

In 2018, the scholar Gordon Adams wrote that since the end of World War II, American diplomacy “has been essential to multinational agreements on trade, climate, regional security, and arms control.” The United States could “claim to be at the center of a “rules-based international order.” Why? Because it was.

“Those days,” wrote Adams, “are gone.”

Indeed. In the four years since this piece was written, China has grown significantly stronger. On the other hand, the United States appears to have grown weaker, at least in India’s eyes.

According to the aforementioned Sanghvi, a man with his finger on India’s geopolitical pulse, up until very recently, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India’s biggest right-wing party, spouted largely pro-U.S. philosophies.

Now, though, Modi’s party views the United States negatively. Sanghvi noted, “Joe Biden is seen as antagonistic—if not to India, then to the sort of India that Modi’s supporters want to create.”

After the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States’ image has taken a significant beating. Today, whether you like to admit it or not, everything revolves around branding.

Online dating is an obvious example. How you present yourself to a prospective partner (or partners) matters. It matters a lot.

Similarly, LinkedIn, basically a glorified social media platform, is a place to sell your brand: your expertise, experience, etc.

The world of international politics is no different. For those who say that the United States is not a brand, you’re right. However, you’re also wrong. Definitionally speaking, the United States is nothing like Coca-Cola or IKEA, two of the most recognizable brands on the planet.

On the other hand, the United States is just like Coca-Cola and IKEA. After all, what is soft power but the ability to convince another nation (or citizens of another nation) to “buy into” your brand? It involves convincing people to “buy into” your policies and ideologies to subscribe to your vision.

The United States, once the leader in soft power, appears to have lost its edge. For this, it may very well pay a costly price. Losing India to China, once unthinkable, is a distinct possibility.

As the author Shekhar Gupta wrote just a few days ago, there’s no room for morality when it comes to India’s foreign policy stance. Instead, the only thing that matters is acting in the best interest of the Indian people. For Modi and his colleagues, this could mean embracing China and rejecting the United States.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the New York Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, and The Spectator US, among others. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.