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'Growing Indo-US relationship has unnerved China'

By Lalit K Jha
October 20, 2009 13:43 IST
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The deepening of strategic relationship between India and the US has unnerved China, an eminent American scholar said, arguing that Beijing's four-decade-old policy of dealing with New Delhi on their own terms has gone haywire.

Participating in a panel discussion on "China 2025" organised on Monday by the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, Evan Feigenbaum, its Senior Fellow for East, Central and South Asia, said Beijing is increasingly becoming concerned about the growing Indo-US relationship.

"Since 1962, the Chinese strategists have basically decided that they can deal with India on their own terms. But when you introduce the United States into that equation, it introduces all kinds of uncertainties into Chinese planning, he said.

Feigenbaum noted that for China, India has so far been a second, if not a third tier security priority. Voicing a similar opinion another eminent scholar said that in a unipolar Asia, where China is the dominant power, it is India, which to some extent balances the power of Beijing. "Asia without active participation of the US is not multipolar, it is unipolar with China as the dominant power, possibly balanced to some extent by India," Princeton University's Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Aaron Friedberg said in the discussion.

Commenting on the effect of Indo-US economic relationship on China, Feigenbaum said, "The United States is still India's number one trading partner. But in goods, China's now number one. So there is enormous amount of strategic mistrust on both sides." He noted, China is increasingly moving to the centre of India's defence planning, replacing Pakistan.

The world is in for a "period of India-China tension" he said adding, "There are things that are ratcheting up on the border a little bit, but I think broadly tamped down within limits that are set by the political leaderships on both sides." Feigenbaum said Pakistan is a prominent factor in Indo-China relationship."At the end of the day, as things are deteriorating between China and India, Indians are still watching very closely what's happening between Beijing and Islamabad," he said.

Speaking on the US-China relationship Friedberg said if tensions between these nations grow, all of Asia and perhaps other regions as well could be divided into something that might resemble "a new Cold War". At present, he said it is fair to say that the Sino-American relationship is profoundly mixed. It contains important elements of both competition and cooperation.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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