8th Session of the BRICs Seminar (February 17th, 3PM, online): Gulshan Sachdeva (JNU) on the Dynamics of China-India Relation

La séance du séminaire BRICs du mercredi 17 février, 15h (heure de Paris), a reçu : 

Gulshan Sachdeva (JNU, New Delhi) 

Changing Dynamics of India-China Relations

Ci-dessous une présentation de l’intervention et de l’intervenant.

Both India and China are undergoing profound societal transformations. Both are expected to play an important role in the evolving Asian economic and security architectures. Since both are rising powers in the same part of the world, there are bound to be tensions. The border standoff since May 2020 has brought relations to the lowest point in recent decades. The Sino-American escalation has also coincided with New Delhi’s own difficulties in managing its ties with Beijing. Despite serious bilateral military and diplomatic engagements, the situation remains tense.

Like their counterparts in most other Asian countries, one of the biggest challenges for Indian policy makers is to manage its ties with Beijing. At the moment, there is still a huge asymmetry between two economies. Many scholars have posited that India-China relations consist of four Cs: conflict, competition, cooperation and containment. These dynamics over the years are reflected through border incidents, increasing trade, competition for influence in many regions as well as cooperative conversations through multilateral (BRICS, SCO) and bilateral settings. In recent decades, both did not allow border dispute to affect other bilateral engagements.

As China’s economic might and maritime footprint become more significant, India’s position is being challenged, even in South Asia. Traditionally, South Asian region was considered to be an Indian area of influence. China tried to balance this reality by forging a closer strategic cooperative framework with Pakistan. The China-Pakistan nexus restrains New Delhi’s options in South and Central Asia. The US exit from Afghanistan will increase complications further. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects are now further accelerating the Chinese expansion. Although many South and Central Asian countries have joined the initiative, Indian official narrative concerning the BRI remains negative. The sovereignty related issues concerning the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and broader geopolitical implications within the Indian Ocean region have overshadowed other aspects of the BRI in Indian discussions. India’s participation in the BRICS, SCO and the AIIB had relatively little impact on New Delhi’s perception of the BRI. In fact, the BCIM corridor, which was graduated to Track I in 2013 has rather become victim of the BRI geopolitics. Although many independent analysts argued for a selective participation in the BRI, this hardly reflected in government policy. Border tensions have further pushed these discussions into the background.
Increasing Chinese economic and naval presence in neighbouring regions and the Indian Ocean has pushed New Delhi to sharpen its strategic engagements with the United States and within the Indo-Pacific region. It has developed partnership with the ASEAN. Along with the Australia, Japan and the US, it is actively participating in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD). As a result of recent border tensions, India has banned a large number of Chinese apps and is also putting special provisions to monitor Chinese investments. This approach emphasises a determination to decouple the Indian economy from China. The policy is an integral part of Atamanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan ( Self-Reliant India campaign). The developing situation in India-China ties will have serious implications not just for the future of BRICS but also for the for the Asian and global balance of power.

About the speaker:

Prof Gulshan Sachdeva is Jean Monnet Chair; Coordinator, Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence and Chairperson, Centre for European Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is also Editor-in-Chief, International Studies (SAGE) and Book Series Editor on Europe-Asia Connectivity (Palgrave Macmillan). He has been consultant with the ADB, ILO and the Asia Foundation. His research is focused on European integration, India’s external engagements, Eurasian connectivity, Afghanistan, Indian Northeast and development cooperation. Some of his recent publications include Challenges in Europe: Indian Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan), India in a Reconnecting Eurasia (Washington: CSIS) and Evaluation of the EU-India Strategic Partnership and the Potential for its Revitalization (Brussels: European Parliament). He has been visiting faculty at many European universities (Antwerp, Corvinus, KU Leuven, Trento, UPF Barcelona and Warsaw etc). He holds PhD in Economics from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest.




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