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Borders Comparative Politics Foreign Policy War and Conflict

India, China and their Accelerating Cold Wars

There are three ‘cold wars’ that have been underway for some time, which involve India and China. Each shows both how much the world has changed since the ‘original’ Cold War between the US and the USSR and how distinct in their worldviews and approaches India and China are from the superpowers of an earlier era. These cold wars are also now picking up pace.

The first cold war is a direct one. Mutual trust has never been a strong suit of the India-China relationship but the ongoing Chinese transgressions along the LAC indicate a significant breakdown of long-standing bilateral agreements and can be considered a tipping point. For the foreseeable future, LAC face-offs involving violent physical altercations and possibly casualties will be the norm. And yet, these are unlikely to escalate into full-fledged conflict even as both sides criticise each other more openly in bilateral and multilateral conversations.

What also separates the India-China cold war from its predecessor between the superpowers is the deep and growing economic linkages between the two sides. Another feature is the distinct asymmetry in both the military and economic equations in China’s favour. But while calls in India for selectively boycotting Chinese goods are unlikely to work, the Indian government can still prevent any further Chinese ingress in the form of capital and technologies. Given its own political economy, this might be more of a concern for China, than the LAC itself. Asymmetry, thus, does not necessarily mean lack of leverage for India and avenues for negotiations and compromises will exist in the relationship.

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War and Conflict

China and India’s Agni-V Missile Test

(original text in English follows below the Hindi text)

देश और इससे बाहर, पांच हजार किलोमीटर तक मार करने वाली अग्नि -5 मिसाइल के सफल परीक्षण की व्याख्या हो रही है। माना जा रहा है इसका निशाना चीन है। इस मिसाइल की सफल तैनाती से पूरा चीन भारत के परमाणु हथियारों की जद में आ जाएगा। मिसाइल के इस परीक्षण से देश के कुछ हलकों में एक उत्साह का माहौल दिखाई दे रहा है।

बहरहाल, कड़वा यथार्थ यही है कि परमाणु हथियार की क्षमता हासिल होने की थोड़ी सी भी सुगबुगाहट हो तो प्रतिस्पद्र्धियों हमला करने से विचलित हो जाते हैं। उत्तरी कोरिया और इसके अंतरराष्ट्रीय संबंध यह साबित करने के लिए काफी हैं। अगर पहले नहीं तो कम से 1998 तक तो भारत ने चीन के खिलाफ परमाणु क्षमता हासिल कर ही ली थी। हालांकि यह भी नहीं कहा जा सकता कि ऐसा नहीं होता तो चीन भारत के खिलाफ हमले की योजना बना डालता।