Monograph : India-China-US Triangle : A ‘Soft’ Balance of Power System in the Making
This Paper is product of academic work undertaken from September 2001 to March 2002, as an Asia Foundation Visiting Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The idea that there might be a triangular dynamic between India, the United States and China and that it might be consequential for Asia and the world is a relatively new one. Venu Rajamony was among the first to parse the idea more than a decade ago. His arguments on the prospects for a significant triangular relationship–where each bilateral relationship affects the other two–proved to be both prescient and enduring.
For a very brief moment at the turn of the 1960s, India and the United States, under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President John Kennedy, sought, unsuccessfully, to construct a military partnership between Delhi and Washington against Beijing in the wake of the border clash between India and China in 1962. Soon after, US and China normalized their relations and India moved closer to the Soviet Union. This regional balance seemed rock solid until the Tiananmen turmoil, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union between 1989-1991.
Rajamony’s assessment of the post Cold War shifts in Asian balance of power foresaw the potential conflict between a rising China and the United States despite the deepening economic interdependence at the turn of the new millennium. He was also accurate in sensing a new momentum in India-US relations and the rapid evolution of the strategic partnership over successive administrations in Washington and Delhi. He also noted the broadening of the Sino-Indian relations in the years after the Cold War. Although Russia and Pakistan do not figure too prominently in Rajamony’s analysis, the developments in the two countries have only given a sharper edge to the triangular relationship between Delhi, Beijing and Washington.
Rajamony’s framework on ‘soft-balancing’ captured the essence of the dynamic shifts in the triangular relationship, at a moment when China’s material capabilities—economic and strategic— rose fast and India began to end its marginalization on the world stage. The developments in the last few years also confirmed Rajamony’s caution that soft-balancing could easily turn into ‘hard-balancing’. Preventing such an outcome and building on the author’s case for a triangular ‘Asian Concert’ will remain the most important strategic challenge in Asia in the coming years. Given its early insights into the interaction between India, China and the United States, Rajamony’s piece has been perused and cited widely. His nuanced approach makes the essay the starting point for any discourse on the evolution of the strategic triangle in the first half of the twenty first century.
Given its early insights into the interaction between India, China and the United States, Rajamony’s piece has been perused and cited widely. His nuanced approach makes the essay the starting point for any discourse on the evolution of the strategic triangle in the first half of the twenty first century.
C. Raja Mohan
C Raja Mohan is director of Carnegie India. A leading analyst of India’s foreign policy, Mohan is also an expert on South Asian security, great-power relations in Asia, and arms control. He is the foreign affairs columnist for the Indian Express, and a visiting research professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He was a member of India’s National Security Advisory Board.
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The monograph has been cited and referenced extensively: please see links here
Chapter in the book : India’s political and foreign relations with the Gulf Region
This section provides the full text of a scholarly article India and the UAE, expanding frontiers of political and diplomatic relations authored by Venu Rajamony in a book titled “India’s political and foreign relations with the Gulf Region”, edited by Dr. A.K. Pasha of the Gulf Studies Programme, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. The article traces diplomatic relations between India and UAE from the pre-independence period till 2007 and charts the evolution of relations through exchange of various high level visits from both sides. You may read the chapter here