India rethinks strategic ties following border clashes with China

India rethinks strategic ties following border clashes with China

New Delhi likely to boost US relations and reduce reliance on commerce with neighbour

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assiduously courted China’s President Xi Jinping, setting aside a long-simmering boundary dispute to pursue deeper economic ties. Chinese companies — including Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei — have gained a strong foothold in India’s growing market.

But following a vicious brawl in the Himalayan mountains that killed at least 20 Indian soldiers on the remote Sino-Indian border this week, a senior Indian government official said New Delhi will steadily pare back its economic ties with China.

India will look instead to strengthen other strategic relationships — notably with the US — as the dispute along the undemarcated 3,488km border once again takes centre stage.

“In terms of geopolitical choices, economic choices, India will look elsewhere,” said the official. “We tried to offer them an economic stake in our country hoping that a more robust business relationship could create mutual familiarity and understanding. But obviously beyond a point, it hasn’t worked.”