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India Balancing China: Exploring Soft Balancing Through Indo-Pacific

Pavan Kumar

Millennial Asia, 2022, vol. 13, issue 2, 339-359

Abstract: India–China relation is witnessing its worst phase after the 1962 War. Recent aggression by the Chinese forces in the Galwan valley and killing of at least 20 Indian soldiers have posed serious security concerns for India. This article studies nature of threat China poses to India’s security and the latter’s choices to respond to it. In doing so, this article explores the theories of the balance of power, balance of threat and of balancing behaviour associated with realism. It argues that China is a threat to India’s security in the South Asian region as well as to its larger economic and geopolitical interests in world politics. Current realities of world politics restrict India’s choices, and if it has to survive and find its rightful place and increase influence in world affairs, it has no choice but to balance Chinese behaviour and not the power. This is a shift from the Waltzian analysis, which focuses on the balance of power. This article argues that when states do not have adequate internal capabilities to balance a state, they need not necessarily align with the threat (bandwagon) or with another great power to counter the threat. In an interconnected world, they have the choice to balance the behaviour of states that pose a threat by performing soft balancing. India has the choice to balance Chinese behaviour by making a regional alliance in the Indo-Pacific region, and it will be in India’s interests to carry out soft balancing. This article problematizes the proposition suggested by Rajesh Rajagopalan, in India’s Strategic Choices: China and the Balance of Power in Asia , that, to balance China, India should align with the United States. This article concludes with the argument that alignment with the United States is a perilous affair, and it shall give rise to greater insecurities. The more favourable alternative for India is to balance Chinese behaviour through soft balancing via Indo-Pacific.

Keywords: India; China; balance of power; soft balancing; Indo-Pacific; balancing; India’s foreign policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1177/0976399621998274

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