The complex U.S. relationship with China denies a sense of comfort to all but the most optimistic observers. To U.S. policymakers worried about a long-term threat from China, India looks like a useful counterbalance. This June, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described military cooperation with India as the linchpin of the recent U.S. foreign policy pivot toward Asia.
Is India the reliable partner and like-minded custodian of Asian stability that the U.S. foreign policy establishment assumes? Eric Heginbotham of RAND Corporation disagrees in his recent book “Chinese and Indian Strategic Behavior.” Comparing India’s and China’s foreign policies, UN voting records, trade and investment policies, and other de facto indicators of their true values, he argues that the two countries are strikingly similar.
However, author and independent consultant Rollie Lal contends that appearances can deceive. Her analysis indicates that the two countries have fundamentally different national interests because of their different political systems. While China and India may act similarly — and oppose U.S. positions — on certain issues, the implications for future partnership with the U.S. deviate significantly. In a crisis, these differences will prove critical.
The Baker Institute hosted these two foreign policy experts to debate the role of India and China in the U.S. rebalancing strategy in a discussion moderated byand former U.S. Treasury Department attaché to India. The featured speakers will challenge conventional views of the power structure in Asia and its implications for U.S. foreign policy.