China’s objections to the joint Indo-US military exercises conducted just 100 km from the Sino-Indian border seem to have fallen upon deaf ears. On Thursday, a spokesperson of the Indian Foreign Ministry stated that the exercises have “nothing to do with the 1993 and 1996 agreements” in place with the People’s Republic of China. “Since these were raised by the Chinese side, let me emphasize that the Chinese side needs to reflect and think about its own breach of these agreements of 1993 and 1996.” The ’93 agreement centers on maintaining peace along the Line of Actual Control. This is the area where the 2020 border clashes between Indian and Chinese troops occurred, which led to multiple deaths on both sides. So it goes without saying that the appearance of US troops in Uttarakhand and conducting exercises with Indian forces served to rub Beijing the wrong way. Defense ties between the US and India have grown strong in recent years. China’s behavior and actions have helped push together the US and Indian desire to counter and contain the PRC.
The budding military rivalry between China and India is not restricted to the Himalayas. The two Asian giants are maneuvering for influence and control in and around the Indian Ocean region. Geopolitically, Beijing’s encroachment here is motivated at least partly by China’s determination to be regarded as the ascendant leader among Great Power equals. The ‘String of Pearls’ doctrine in the IO region was intended to encircle India. By investing in ports, infrastructure and defense exports to India’s immediate neighbors China has laid the foundation for future military bases and cooperation in the event of a large Sino-Indian war.