Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a rally in Arunanchal Pradesh, near the Chinese border. (Source: Pakistan Today)
The landslide victory by Narendra Modi in India’s national elections has raised questions throughout Asia about India’s role in the region. Chinese experts have watched the transition with great interest, many seeking historical analogies to explain the new leader. One of the most optimistic is the idea that Modi could be “India’s Nixon,” a concept which originated in The Shanghai Institute for International Practices, and which forecasts an “opening to China akin to the U.S. President’s. This optimistic analysis also suggests that, given his focus on the Indian economy, Modi could choose to emulate the PRC’s model for economic growth, and thus draw inspiration from Deng Xiaoping. Others have expressed the fear that he might prove to be an “Indian Shinzo Abe,” playing to nationalism and intensifying a border dispute with China.
While the China-India border has been stable and largely quiet in the decades since the Sino-Indian Border War in 1962, last year’s standoff at Dalit Beg Oldi fed suspicion in New Delhi, especially as it came just ahead of Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India and the PRC claimed not to have made any wrongful incursion. Chinese analysts fear a Japanese effort to build a democratic coalition in Asia. A contest between two security visions, one implicit in the United States “pivot” and alliance system, and the other set out by Chinese President Xi Jinping during Shanghai’s CICA Summit, could shape the larger environment in which the BJP makes its foreign policy. Echoing Xi's ideas, Chinese experts suggest that Beijing may be able to leverage Modi's development ambitions to enmesh Delhi in a Chinese version of regional order.
Strategic Competition and the Status Quo: Chinese Concerns About India