chapter  23
16 Pages


A balancer in India–China relations?
WithVidya Nadkarni

The interactions within the India–China, India–Russia, and China–Russia dyads and among all three countries in the Russia–India–China (RIC) trilateral format are influenced by a shifting array of historical, structural, and domestic variables. India–China ties have displayed varying degrees of hostility, rivalry, and competition, leavened with limited engagement. India and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)/Russia have maintained largely cordial links, although geopolitical maneuverings in the second decade of the twenty-first century have added significant stressors to the relationship. This chapter argues that the one consistent pattern during the Cold War was that Beijing’s willingness to accommodate India came at moments when China felt beleaguered internationally and when Sino-Soviet competition for influence was acute. This augurs ill for Sino-Indian comity in the twenty-first century as a China striding onto the world stage and having enlisted Russia as a junior partner is no longer constrained by Russian power or influence. The more probable checks to China’s global rise are likely to come either from domestic challenges or from an aggressive overreach internationally that hems in India and drives forward a formalized Indo-US alignment.