Autore: Michelguglielmo Torri
In: Asia Maior. XXXI/2020

During 2020, India’s foreign policy was unaffected by the COVID-19 and dominated by two key developments, on whose analysis this article is focussed. One was the turning for the worse of the India-China relation, of which the heating up of the Himalayan border, which saw clashes between the militaries of the two countries, was at the same time cause and effect. The other key foreign policy development in the year under review was the tightening of the India-US connection, which, in 2020, increasingly looked as a de facto anti-China military alliance. The India-China confrontation is tackled by dwelling on three points. The first is the history of the incidents and clashes along the Himalayan border, whose seriousness is proven by the fact that, for the first time in 45 years, there were losses of human life. Then, a main objective cause of turbulence along the China-India border, namely the undefined nature of the de facto border (the so-called LAC, Line of Actual Control) is examined. Finally, the two mirror-like explanations of the border crisis are scrutinised. Then, the focus of the analysis moves on, zeroing on the India-US connection. It highlights the bizarre situation which, during the year under review, saw the worsening of the economic connection between the two nations – a direct result of US President Trump «America First» policy – coupled, however, by their growing military closeness. The fact that this apparently contradictory process resulted in something akin to a de facto military alliance, and the institutional developments that fleshed it out are examined. Finally, the fact is underlined that, even if largely unrecognised by Indian politicians and public opinion, the tightening of the US-India military alliance resulted in India’s loss, or at least drastic diminution of its vaunted «strategic autonomy». As a proof of this, the unravelling of the India-Iran strategic ties is examined.

Keywords – India’s foreign policy; India-China Himalayan border; India-China tensions; LAC; India-US connection; India’s strategic autonomy; India-Iran strategic ties.

Michelguglielmo Torri | University of Turin |