Regional Overview: Marginal De-escalation, Contested Geoeconomics and Strategic Partnerships

In the past month, India and China have deliberated on ways to de-escalate from the flashpoints across the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Given the course of past conflicts and the current power asymmetry between the two countries, there are growing concerns in India regarding the tactics that Beijing has been deploying at the negotiating table. The concerns are not unfounded, given the hostile rhetoric emanating from Beijing and the PLA’s aggressive military presence on the border. Moreover, the power differential has also played out in the economic and connectivity realms. Given that India is unable to match the volume of Chinese investments and the rate of Beijing’s trade expansion, it may result in a continuing dilution of Delhi’s presence in its immediate and extended neighbourhood.

India, on the other hand, has sought to address the asymmetrical power balance with China by building strategic partnerships with like-minded democracies. Developments in the past few weeks, however, demonstrate that strategic congruence, especially with major powers, will also be contingent on the degree of autonomy that they enjoy in international geopolitics.

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