Think Tank (5/2023)
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India-China Border Tensions and the Recalibration of India’s Strategic Alignments
20 Sep 2023

On September 20 2023, the South Asia Programme at RSIS hosted Mr Dinakar Peri, Senior Assistant Editor – Defence, of The Hindu, a leading Indian daily. Mr Peri gave a public lecture assessing the status of an India-China bilateral relationship after the Galwan Valley clashes in June 2020 and India’s strategic reorientation as a response to China’s growing assertiveness.

Mr Peri began by giving an overview of the situation at the India-China border following the Galwan valley clashes. India’s improving infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) enabled better patrolling of the disputed border by the Indian side. This brought patrols of the two countries into more frequent contact as India confronted Chinese transgressions. This pattern ultimately led to the Ladakh standoff that began before the Galwan Valley clashes. On the ground, the standoff has fundamentally altered the status along the LAC.

More broadly, Mr Peri said that the ongoing military standoff between India and China is an inflection point in the relationship of the two countries. Beijing hopes to bring the India-China relationship back to normalcy, but for India, the relationship has fundamentally changed. Indian leaders have grown suspicious of Beijing and trust has all but evaporated. The Indian military has reoriented towards China from Pakistan, relocating much of its formations and equipment to the northern frontier. India has also aligned with the West to address the China threat. India has invested in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue to stem the growth of Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific. India is also turning to the West for military equipment, especially the United States and France. The two countries are not only suppliers of defence equipment but also are supporting the growth of India’s domestic defence industrial base.

During the Q&A session, Mr Peri responded to issues regarding India’s  relationship with Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, and future trajectory of India-China relations.

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