The Sino-Indian border dispute and Asian security

International relations Defence Conflict management Asia

Executive summary

  • The border dispute between India and China is long and unique with disputes over length, control and third parties such as Tibet.
  • From 1999 until 2008 India and China made fresh efforts to resolve the dispute, however these have faltered and stalled.
  • The relationship between India and the US is affecting the relationship, both speeding up and slowing down resolution depending who India is focused on, Washington or Beijing.
  • A middle power coalition, free of the US and China is the only way for countries such as India, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan to ensure their security.

Policy recommendations

Asian nations must recognize that distancing themselves from the United States will not necessarily win political rewards in Beijing. Deepening ties with the United States must remain a high priority for all of China’s neighbours.

Asia’s regional powers, including Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam need to find ways to strengthen security cooperation amongst themselves in a variety of ways and through flexible political arrangements.

Although each has a different set of compulsions in relation to China, they share an overriding objective in constructing a middle power coalition that can shape the Asian security order.

The coalition must neither be seen as an extension of the American alliance system, nor a counter to it. It is the first step towards constructing an in-situ balance of power in Asia.

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