Being a pawn for US containment strategy a trap for India
Published: Jun 26, 2017 11:28 PM

The Atlantic Council, a top US think tank, has released a policy paper titled "Transforming India from a balancing to leading power" ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's US visit this week. Describing India as a "key piece in the jigsaw" for the US, the report highlights that Washington will need New Delhi to counter Beijing's growing influence in the world, and urges US President Donald Trump's administration to prioritize its ties with India.

Indians might feel a sense of pride as the strategic importance of their country in counterbalancing China was hyped by US think tanks and media outlets. However, being a "key piece in the jigsaw for the US" is nothing to be proud of. Instead, it is more likely a trap that deserves India's vigilance.
Washington's pursuit of closer ties with New Delhi is mainly driven by its strategic need to utilize India as a tool to counterbalance China. How many practical interests can India gain from it? During Barack Obama's tenure, in order to woo India, he promised to support India's bid for a UN Security Council seat, but did not put it to any practical action. Will Trump take substantial steps to facilitate India's UNSC bid? It's hard to tell. Will Trump put more pressure on Pakistan for its alleged support of terrorist groups? The answer is very likely to be negative.

Washington and New Delhi share anxieties about China's rise. In recent years, to ratchet up geopolitical pressure on China, the US has cozied up to India. But India is not a US ally like Japan or Australia. To assume a role as an outpost country in the US' strategy to contain China is not in line with India's interests. It could even lead to catastrophic results. If India regresses from its non-alignment stance and becomes a pawn for the US in countering China, it will be caught up in a strategic dilemma and new geopolitical frictions will be triggered in South Asia. 

In an era when emerging countries have been playing an increasingly important role in global affairs, if India, an important participant in two non-Western organizations - the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS - can firmly stand together with China in striving for more discourse power, it will be helpful for New Delhi to realize its big power ambitions. 

From the end of the 1950s to the beginning of the 1960s, both the Soviet Union and the US wanted to play the India card to check China. Then the Kennedy government supported India's Forward Policy. But the result wasn't what was expected. India isn't able to balance China, which has been proved by history. New Delhi should avoid being roped into a geopolitical trap. Despite its anxieties over China's rise, maintaining a stable relationship with China is of more importance to its security and development.

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