New Delhi Is Intensifying Strategic Tussle With Beijing
WASHINGTON, DC (ANI) – A new poll by Morning Consult revealed shifting perspectives of India that see China, amid geopolitical changes, as the “greatest military threat” in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, writes Michael Kugelman in Foreign Policy.
New Delhi is intensifying its strategic tussle with Beijing, and it is poised to shape the next century. China’s rise in recent years has provoked a change in India’s strategic threat calculations–a shift now reflected in public sentiment.
The Morning Consult poll revealed that Indians see China as India’s “greatest military threat.” 43 percent of respondents named China, while only 13 percent cited Pakistan, India’s long-standing rival.
The survey, based on interviews with 1,000 Indian adults last October, reflects a shift in Indian perspectives–including among Indian officials–on the country’s long-term strategic challenges, reported Foreign Policy.
Since its independence, India has fought three full-scale conflicts and one limited war with Pakistan, and bilateral relations remain tense.
But growing threats from China, coupled with recent Indian foreign policy moves, show that New Delhi’s focus has shifted toward Beijing, said Kugelman.
The shift underscores the opportunities for India to deepen its partnership with the United States and its Asian treaty allies, along with the balancing act that New Delhi must maintain with Moscow, which has drawn closer to Beijing amid the war in Ukraine.
India faces major threats from China on several fronts. It has struggled to deter Beijing on their shared border: Since a deadly 2020 clash in Ladakh, Chinese troops continue to make incursions into India, including one last month.
Meanwhile, China is expanding its naval presence in the Indian Ocean. India also worries about Chinese surveillance.
New Delhi has banned more than 300 Chinese mobile apps, citing security–the only major case of India scaling back commercial relations with China since the border clash, reported Foreign Policy.
New Delhi’s foreign policy has turned on China in recent years. It has embraced the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and other efforts to counter China, such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
India is all-in on strengthening security relations with the three other Quad members: Australia, Japan, and the United States. This week, India and Japan launched their first-ever joint air fighter exercises.
India and Japan kicked off their first-ever joint fighter aircraft exercise as the two strategic partners continue to deepen defense and security ties amid growing concerns over China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
Named Veer Guardian-23, the aerial maneuvers were taking place in the airspace around the Air Self-Defense Force’s Hyakuri and Iruma air bases in Ibaraki Prefecture, running until January 26.
The Indian Ministry of Defense said the 11-day exercise, which will include training for various “air combat missions in a complex environment,” will also fortify the “long-standing bond of friendship” and pave the way for greater interoperability between the two air forces.
With the launch of the exercise series, India has now become the fifth country to send fighter jets to Japan for joint drills following the United States, Australia, Britain, and Germany.
India has also insisted on continuing to do business with a long-time friend Russia; the Morning Consult survey finds that Indian public opinion toward Russia soured after the Ukraine invasion, but it picked up again soon thereafter.
Moscow is close to Beijing, but it also provides New Delhi with military equipment, such as the S-400 missile defense system, which can strengthen its deterrence capacity.