As tensions simmer between India and China along their disputed Himalayan border, there are notable developments with far-reaching implications. China’s President Xi Jinping’s absence from the G20 summit 2023 is seen by some as a result of these escalating tensions, contributing to the deteriorating relations between the two Asian giants.
Simultaneously, India has solidified its defense ties with the United States by becoming part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue alongside Japan and Australia, a strategic move aimed at countering China’s expanding influence, as reported by Bloomberg.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is actively exploring potential responses to a hypothetical scenario involving a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. This revelation comes from senior Indian government officials, who disclose that Defence Chief General Anil Chauhan initiated a comprehensive study approximately six weeks ago.
The study assesses the broader implications of a Taiwan conflict involving the United States and its allies, as well as India’s potential role in such a scenario. This move follows the United States raising the Taiwan issue in various international forums.
The study’s objective is to evaluate various war scenarios and furnish India with a range of options should a conflict arise. While some Indian military leaders believe that strong statements might suffice in the event of a short-lived war, they acknowledge that more substantial actions may be required if the conflict prolongs, akin to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.
These preparations underscore the complexities of India’s “multi-alignment” policy, particularly if relations between the United States and China further deteriorate. Under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, India has charted an independent course in international relations by cultivating close ties with the United States while refraining from participating in international sanctions against Russia.
One of the options being contemplated involves India serving as a logistics hub, providing essential repair and maintenance facilities for allied warships and aircraft. Additionally, India could supply vital resources such as food, fuel, and medical equipment to forces resisting China. The Indian military has been directed to expedite the development of these options.
The situation along the India-China border remains tense, characterized by significant troop deployments and military build-ups near the unmarked border. Diplomatic negotiations have yielded limited progress, and India has been cautious about being perceived as forming a military alliance with the United States. Nonetheless, India has quietly sought to enhance relations with Taiwan, as evidenced by recent visits to Taiwan by three former Indian military chiefs.
Five years ago, India and the United States signed the Logistics-Exchange Memorandum of Agreement, a foundational pact permitting the refueling and replenishment of warships and aircraft and providing access to bases when needed. These developments underscore the complex geopolitical landscape in Asia, with India navigating a delicate balancing act between strategic partnerships and regional sensitivities.
(With inputs from Bloomberg)