Washington: Amidst media reports that the Obama Administration is looking at New Delhi to serve as a counterweight to Beijing, a well-known American expert has said that the US, India and China are in a triangular relationship, which will exist for decades.
"There`s an assumption or a hope that the United States and India can team together to balance China, but the eality is the United States, India, and China are in a triangular relationship and they will be in one for decades,"
George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in an interview posted on its website.
The United States, he said, cooperates with China on a number of things.
For example, the two countries are cooperating on economics, the US would like to cooperate with China on climate change, and there are other issues where there will be cooperation.
"The two countries also compete. The United States is warning China about territorial claims in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
China worries about our American military build-up and missile defence. So, the United States and China will be mixing cooperation and competition, trying to feel their way forward," he said.
India and China are doing the same thing, Perkovich said.
"China is now India`s largest trading partner. China and India have had basically positive diplomatic relations in the last ten years, but they`re also worried about each other (or India’s very worried about China and China affects a view that China doesn`t care that much about India because India is not too consequential).
But they too will mix cooperation and competition," he observed.
"In many ways, India has played the United States and China off each other for the last ten years and if it`s smart, will continue to do so.
So, the United States tries to court India and draw India closer to the United States.
China sees this and tries to court India to keep it from getting closer to the United States," he said.
"So, it really is a triangular relationship that won’t be all competition and won?t be all cooperation," Perkovich said.
"When people talk about India being a counterweight to China, you need to ask what they mean. If they`re thinking in terms of military balancing, it`s the wrong expectation and, in a sense, it`s the wrong question.
China is not going to attack India – most Indians understand this -- and therefore the issue of banding together to defend India is not so much the challenge of the day," he said.
In the twenty-first century, the balance that needs to be made isn`t military -- that can be done and it’s important -- but is really economic.
China`s power has come from economic growth, its share of the global economy, the debt it holds, and so on.
So, the United States, India, and other countries need to balance China in an economic sense, and that`s a much harder thing to do than balancing military power, he noted.
Another way to think about this is if the twenty-first century is going to be all about knowledge and the knowledge production economy, then the United States and India could actually team up.
"The two countries could be more cooperative because there are more reasons for them to cooperate in knowledge as they have similar tolerance levels and liberal cultures (compared to China) and research and development and intellectual property are more respected in India.
So, there really is a basis to cooperate and kind of compete with China economically.
And this could be done in a military sense, but that`s a nineteenth century game, and we`re in a twenty-first century world," Perkovich said.