India Turns East: International Engagement and US-China Rivalry

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India Turns East: International Engagement and US-China Rivalry
By Frédéric Grare
Oxford University Press, 2017
280 pp.
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Since the early 1990s, most Indian strategists have viewed China as their country’s main security threat. One result has been New Delhi’s cooperation with Washington—halting and ambivalent though it is. Less well known is India’s Look East Policy, formally adopted in 1992, by which New Delhi has sought to increase its economic, diplomatic, and security ties with countries and institutions in East Asia and Southeast Asia. This useful survey finds that the policy has generated a number of joint declarations but only modest programs of defense cooperation, intelligence sharing, and arms sales with partners such as Japan, Singapore, and Vietnam. India signed a free-trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and pivoted from suspicion of to engagement with ASEAN’s associated institutions. But India’s attempts to strengthen ties with Australia and Myanmar have been hampered by both countries’ reluctance to antagonize China. Indeed, India itself does not want to confront China. Grare cautions that the Look East Policy does not offer the congruence with U.S. strategies that some Washington policymakers like to imagine.

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