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India-China-US: A Romantic Triangle?

Sonika Gupta

Edited by Francine R. Frankel and Harry Harding
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 377, Rs. 595.00


American scholarship and policy has traditionally treated India and China as falling within two different geopolitical contexts. In the past decade, US scholarship on China has dealt predominantly with the challenges posed to the US by a rapidly growing Chinese economy and military capability. The main drivers of this US-China relationship were trade, Taiwan, Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asian security issues. On the other hand, scholarship on India has tended to focus on India’s economic potential, its nuclear tests and bilateral relations driven by South Asian geopolitics and nuclear nonproliferation. India-China relations have rarely been a factor in analysing or formulating the overall American policy towards Asia. Changing regional and global balance of power after September 11 and the need to resituate India and China in the regional and global power matrix prompts this study. The study recognizes that the post 9/11 world offers opportunities for newer forms of cooperation between India and China and presents challenges arising mainly from concerns about US unilateralism. Attempts by India, China and Russia to create a polycentric world are a step to address this challenge. Francine Frankel argues that US preoccupation with the war on terror has meant the US policy makers have paid little attention to the cooperative efforts by India, China and Russia to lay the groundwork for a multipolar world order.   This edited volume is an attempt to fill the gaps in the American understanding of the India-China dynamics and its impact on regional and global US interest and to formulate a coherent policy response to the rise of the two Asian giants. A major aspect of this project is to assess the role that the US should play in the triangular India-US-China relationship to maximize US interests.   The book was written when the US campaign in Afghanistan was at its height and has a mix of scholars and US policy-makers contributing their knowledge and experience to the project. Understandably, some of the analysis has been overtaken by events both in India-China relations and international politics. However, the overall value of the analysis presented is not diminished in any significant manner. At the outset the study asserts that both India and China will be of “strategic importance” to the United States in the next few years. The book reflects the complex nature of Sino-Indian relations and offers a multiplicity of opinions about future trajectory of Sino-Indian relations that defy categorization into zero-sum ...

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