India’s tit-for-tat foreign policy: taking a leaf out of China’s playbook?

International relations Diplomacy India

India’s decision on 5 August to abrogate Article 370 of its Constitution, which gave special status and a degree of autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, saw four countries – China, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey – condemn that action. Pakistan’s reaction to New Delhi’s decision was to be expected (Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech at the UN General Assembly being one aspect of that reaction). The reaction of China, too, was expected, for at least three reasons: to align with Pakistan in order to demonstrate its friendship; to keep India off-balance by aligning with Pakistan; and because India’s decision to make the Ladakh region a Union Territory separate from those of Jammu and Kashmir would enable it to take measures to protect that territory against incursions by Chinese troops (thereby forcing China to expend more resources by having to pay greater attention to that region at a time when its economic growth is faltering).

Not quite as evident is why Malaysia and Turkey chose to castigate India’s action on Kashmir. What is becoming increasingly evident, however, is that both of those countries will now pay an economic price for doing so. Equally evident is the fact that India has decided to emulate China’s dictum of punishing what it sees as political intransigence with economic costs.

Key points:

  • India has, until now, retaliated against perceived slights through diplomatic initiatives.
  • Now, however, it appears to be striking back against similar slights through economic means.
  • Two cases in point are the economic and political measures that it has taken against Turkey and Malaysia.
  • India has also refused to re-schedule or cancel its planned military exercises in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as its territory, during Chairman Xi’s visit to India.
  • In those instances, it appears to have emulated China’s tactics.
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