India’s China Policy: Time to Overcome Political Drift

Originally published as Jabin T. Jacob, “India’s China Policy: Time to Overcome Political Drift,” RSIS Policy Brief, June 2012.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

A foreign policy without competent and visionary political direction, especially in a democratic dispensation, is a serious shortcoming. The Indian government’s policy towards China in recent years has been driven more by bureaucratic expertise and military demands than by political vision. Such a foreign policy risks either missing opportunities provided by the global situation or diverting and wasting limited national resources. As a rising global power, New Delhi can scarce afford the current drift in its foreign policy. With China as neighbour and one that has a head start in many aspects of national and global power and influence, the lack of initiative and boldness in its China policy are likely to be even more costly for India.

RECOMMENDATIONS

• India will have to develop its own expertise and viewpoints on China instead of relying only on Western sources and perspectives. The rapid establishment of centres for the study of China now under way in India needs to be better planned and coordinated. Resources promised by the government must both be made available on time and increased.

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