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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Ideas Explained: China is the main reason why US election matters for India

The new US President’s broader foreign policy decisions will affect India's relationship with China, writes Tanvi Madan.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 31, 2020 12:23:57 pm
US elections, US presidential elections, US elections 2020, US presidential elections 2020, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, US elections presidential debate, US presidential debate, Trump Biden presidential debate, Explained Ideas, Express Explained, Indian ExpressPresident Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (Jim Bourg/Pool via AP)

A significant amount of the commentary in India about the upcoming US presidential election’s impact has focused on what Donald Trump and Joe Biden have said or not said about Kashmir. However, points out Tanvi Madan of Brookings Institution, that misses a crucial point: Broader foreign policy decisions will have more significant implications for India.

“Particularly consequential will be how a second Trump administration or a Biden administration perceive and approach China and, relatedly, the question of America’s role in the world. The outcome will depend on not just who wins in November, but also the choices that the next American president makes on key personnel and policies,” she states in her opinion piece in The Indian Express.

For the Indian government, the Trump administration’s more hawkish view of China has been welcome. It broadly converges with Indian concerns about a rising China’s actions and intentions. And it has facilitated, if not driven, the Trump administration to assign India an important role in its strategic framework, including through the Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept. This, in turn, has laid the basis for defence and security cooperation, incentivised Washington to manage differences with Delhi on trade, Russia, Iran, and human rights, and led to vocal American support for India in the ongoing crisis with China.

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“However, there are aspects of President Trump’s China approach that have caused consternation in Delhi,” she points out. There are questions whether the competitive approach to China has sufficient presidential buy-in or is more the result of certain Trump administration officials’ preferences.

“If Trump wins, India will carefully consider three elements: Whether Trump stays the course or again pivots on China, which officials remain in or join the administration, and how Beijing responds to a Trump victory,” she asserts.

Delhi will also watch China policy closely if Joe Biden wins.

Commentators have noted Biden’s recent, more hardened view of China. He has called Xi “a thug” and written about “the need to get tough on China”. His campaign has laid out specific steps it will take vis-à-vis Tibet and Taiwan, and talked of a “genocide” in Xinjiang.📣 Follow Express Explained on Telegram

“But what a Biden administration sees as the terms of strategic competition with China and how it might choose to blend in cooperation will have implications for India,” writes Madan, who is the author of “Fateful Triangle: How China Shaped US-India Relations During the Cold War”.

In other words, New Delhi will have to look at whether Biden administration’s Asia policy derives from its China policy or vice versa.

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