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China-India Tension: The US Factor

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In recent times, the border conflicts between India and China and close combats that took place in that region were heavily covered by the US and Western press. To give an example, according to Bloomberg’s report, India has sent an additional 50 thousand soldiers to the disputed Ladakh and Galwan Valley on the Chinese border. The report stated that the number of soldiers in the region has increased to 200.000 by 40% in recent year.[1] In addition, in this news, Indian officials said that there are more than 450 thousand military elements on the Chinese border together with paramilitary forces. Contrary to the news, Indian and Chinese soldiers withdrew from some of the disputed regions after 15 months of conflict to defuse tension. From this point, it can be said that some news published by the Western press, and especially the American media, are served to menace, provoke either intimidate China.

Since June 2020, India and China had been facing each other in the Ladakh Region and Galwan Valley which conflict-ridden region where many lives were lost. Above all, the reason behind India’s military build-up on the Chinese border is because China has deployed more soldiers in the Tibet and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region which shares a border with the disputed Kashmir Region and particularly threatening India with military exercises in Tibet. While the tension over the Kashmir Issue on the New Delhi-Beijing line escalated; The US wants to take advantage of global media power to further fuel this tension. In short, the source of these provocative actions between the two great powers is largely due to Washington policy on China.

The US is trying to include India in its “China strategy” and accordingly, it desires India to withdraw its support for China’s “Once-China Policy.” In other words, to deepening the crises in Kashmir Region, US has provoking India against China. However, India is worried about China will provoke its ethnic groups by making a counter maneuver if overstates its claims about Aksai Chin in Kashmir. New Delhi administration avoids to intimidating the Kashmir Issue because India clearly aware of some of the military-security interventions of China on the India-Myanmar border. This is what the US wants: “To set against” India and China to each other.

In fact, India risks escalating conflicts with China by over-engaging in the US strategy towards China. India should stay away from conflict with China as much as possible in line with its own national interests. However, the country most affected by Washington’s “Chinese threat” discourse and feeling this threat most closely is also India.

On the other side, China is increasing its military activity on the border considering possible moves by India. Gautam Bamba Wale, India’s former high-ranking diplomat, claimed that “China is now strategically losing India.”[2] Similarly, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar stated that New Delhi no longer believes in China’s goodwill and said, “If you extend your hand to me, I will extend my hand too. If you point a gun at me, I’ll point a gun too.”[3]

Even though New Delhi knows it has a lot to lose if it goes against Beijing, New Delhi still intends to “raise its voice” and “show its strength. Because with today’s developments, India has little to lose China. This idea is mostly offered India by US. The Washington administration said New Delhi; “China has become the greatest threat to India’s national security”

Fundamentally, these warnings of the USA have some justification. For instance, the security of Northeast India and Myanmar has become heavily dependent on China. If China wants to divide Myanmar and disorder North India, it has the power to do so easily. However, due to the existence of the Kashmir Issue, China cannot attempt the confront India. This is because India has control over the Ladakh which is part of the greater Kashmir Region and also claims right over Aksai Chin. China, on the other side, asserts that Arunachal Pradesh, one of the seven states in Northeast India, belongs to it. The amount of Chinese people in the province in question is gradually increasing. Thus, on one hand the Beijing administration has the capacity to cause turmoil in Northeast India, on the other hand New Delhi, threatens Chinese interests in Kashmir.

The US wants India to further fuel the Kashmir Issue and is trying to hinder China’s interests in that region. The main aim of US is to enable India to attack Pakistani-controlled Gilgit-Baltistan territory. In this context, China does not think that India poses a great threat to it regarding Kashmir. Because the Beijing administration knows that the capacity of the Indian Army is not equal to it, China thinks that it can easily protect Aksai Chin and even gain advantage in Ladakh if it wants to. What really worries China about Kashmir, as mentioned above, is the possibility of India’s invasion Gilgit-Baltistan which is controlled by Pakistan because China does not want to lose its only connection with Pakistan. Such a move by New Delhi is a vital threat to China’s Belt-Road Initiative. This is the strategic goal of the US: to get India to occupy the region and thereby destroy the ground connection between China and Pakistan.

Despite all the provocations of the US, India, and China maintain the current status quo as they know each other’s trump cards. Neither India wants to be too involved in China’s internal affairs, nor does China focus on matters in Northeast India. In general terms, India always stays one step behind China. Therefore, in the mind of the US; it is necessary for India to “take a big step against China now and give it a big intimidation.” It seems essential for the security and stability of the region and the world that India does not believe in this provocation by the USA and does not enter into a major conflict with China over Kashmir.


[1] “India Shifts 50.000 Troops to China Border in Historic Defense Shift”, Bloomberg, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-27/india-shifts-50-000-troops-to-china-border-in-historic-defense-shift, (Date of Accession: 09.09.2021).

[2] Jeff M. Smith, “China Had Made India All-In on the Quad”, Heritage, https://www.heritage.org/global-politics/commentary/china-had-made-india-all-the-quad, (Date of Accession: 09.09.2021).

[3] Ibid.

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ANKASAM Asya-Pasifik Uzmanı