Modi’s China visit highlights a delicate geopolitical game

India’ premier Narendra Modi is coming to China on May 14th to broker some new agreements with Beijing and possibly receive investments for large Indian infrastructure projects. Modi arrived in Moscow the day after Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a parade marking the end of World War II. This hints at India participating in a triangular relation with China and Russia, similar to what former Russian minister of foreign affairs Primakov envisioned in the early 1990s.

At the same time, India is boosting military and intelligence collaboration with China’s rivals, Vietnam and Japan. It is improving ties with America following Washington’s pivot to Asia, while promoting the BRIC  fund that could further dent dollar supremacy and the institutional foundation that underlies the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement.

What kind of game is India playing? A glimpse was provided today in Beijing by India’s ambassador to China T.C.A. Rangachar in a talk at the Foreign Correspondent Club.  He explained that India makes deals and has issues with all players on the geopolitical level. On the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands issue in the East China Sea, the ambassador said that India is not with China, nor is it with Japan. On the South China Sea issue, he said India is not with China, but it also believes the U.S. on the territorial issue is being too stark, too black and white.

Is India trying to be the new “pivot” in Asia? Is it trying to maintain the balance of power in the region or will India lean toward or against China?

This game that India is involved in is delicate and very dangerous because it has the potential to destabilize the regional balance of power. Yet, India could also be one of the countries that benefits the most from the game. It could  find a path to greater political enhancement and economic development by selling itself long to anybody — the Chinese, the Americans, the Japanese, the Russians, etc.

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