Perhaps the events in Sudan, the brutal attack on the Palestinians, and the attack on the Kremlin greatly dominate the global political scene. But it seems that the Biden administration has not forgotten its arch-rival, which is, of course, China, and is still working to lure this rising power into border conflicts that impede its progress, as it did with Russia. This is where, a few days ago, the Indian Minister of Defense warned his Chinese counterpart of the danger of permanent military deployment on the disputed borders between the two parties in the Himalayas, stressing that this leads to undermining relations between the two countries, and calling for disengagement to maintain “peace and tranquility. On the other hand, the Chinese Minister of Defense announced in an official statement that the situation on the border is “stable,” and said, “We hope that the two sides will work together to build mutual trust continuously.”
In fact, this border dispute is not new, but its roots go back to the year 1947, when India became independent from Britain, and obtained a wide plateau in the north-east of the country, while China asserts that its ownership belongs to it. Since that time, several geographical disputes have been taking place between India and China in the sectors of Ladakh (west) and Arunachal Pradesh (east), and a lightning war took place between the two countries in 1962, in which the Indian forces were defeated.
Nevertheless, this conflict resurfaced again in a major confrontation between the two countries in 2017, when China began constructing a military road on a strategic hill near its borders known as the “Duklam” plateau, which connects Chinese, Indian, and Bhutanese lands. However, that incident ended with the retreat of the forces from all sides. After that, events escalated between the two Asian powers in a clash in the region that killed 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese soldiers in June 2020. Since then, the two neighbors have massed tens of thousands of troops along the border. The military deployment continued despite 18 rounds of talks between the two countries’ top military officials.
This historical background assures us that calm between the two sides has prevailed for more than four decades and that it was renewed only in 2017 when the rapprochement between India and the United States began, which was evident in the exchange of visits between the two sides since Trump’s ascension to the White House. This is where it became clear, since that time, that the United States of America is seeking to impose a geopolitical blockade on China by fueling conflicts on borders, oil wealth, or commercial transactions in the region.
Many examples confirm that the United States of America plays a decisive role in reviving and fueling the Indo-Chinese conflict and even arousing Indian fears by exaggerating the Chinese threat as usual. The border clashes that occurred on 9 December 2022, one of these examples, came in the wake of a joint military exercise between India and the United States in the state of “Uttarkhund” bordering China. The strange thing is that the Pentagon commented on these clashes, stressing that a crowd of Chinese soldiers was observed on the border, supporting New Delhi in its position.
Similarly, the recent warning from the Indian Defense Minister about the Chinese military deployment on the border came in the wake of the announcement that the Indian and American air forces would conduct joint exercises in West Bengal, which represents the real arena of geopolitical conflict between China and India due to its importance to the Maritime Silk Road project, which the Chinese president is adopting and the United States is fighting in every way. The Indian press has confirmed the link between the military exercises and tensions on the border with China as a way to warn China that India is not alone. It is also worth noting that the announcement of these exercises came in the wake of the announcement by both India and the United States of taking steps to strengthen their defense partnership, which is the latest indication of cooperation between the two countries in the face of “the growing influence of China” in the Indo-Pacific region.
According to research, the process of integrating India into the US strategic plan began in 2004, but it moved faster with the Modi government in 2016. This is where India signed a memorandum of a logistical exchange agreement with the United States, which allows each country to use the military facilities of the other country for certain purposes, and in 2020 a similar agreement was signed. India also signed agreements with the United States to secure encrypted communications between the two armies, and it is increasingly turning to American companies to obtain weapons and military equipment, as US arms sales to India increased fivefold between 2013 and 2017 compared to the previous five years.
After that, the process of merging the two armies developed greatly, as they conducted the largest number of joint military exercises between the United States and a non-NATO country. In November 2019, the two countries conducted the first trilateral military exercises (land, air, and sea) in the coastal region of Andhra Pradesh. The US and Indian navies have also jointly tracked Chinese submarines in the Asia-Pacific region. According to analysts, the US now gives India almost the same status it gives to NATO member states.
In fact, the United States has many reasons for its political elites to seek to fight, contain, and impede China and its progress, and all of these reasons are in an attempt to maintain its global hegemony. Within this military and economic escalation, the Americans are trying to mobilize an alliance with the countries surrounding and close to China in an attempt to “contain” it. The most promoted argument is that India will be the rising “superpower” that balances and curbs China. On the other hand, it seems that the Indian ruling elites see their survival as dependent on the militarization of India, and its transformation into an American “tool” in the region, ignoring the danger and threat this means to the Indian people.
As is evident, in its attempt to contain Russian influence, the United States destroyed many countries in the Middle East and left them mired in crisis without solutions. In the same skillful way of provocation and fueling conflicts, the United States destroyed Ukraine and plunged the European Union into major crises that might lead to its disintegration, without caring about the solid European-American relations. Today, the United States is repeating the same scenario in Asia to contain Chinese influence, whether through conflict with Taiwan or through conflict with India. Undoubtedly, the United States will not leave Asia unless it is mired in impasses and conflicts. Certainly, the United States will save no effort to remain the dominant power around the world, even if it destroys the entire world for the sake of that.
Dr. Marwa El- Shinawy: Academic and writer