Behind the facade of a new strategy for “long term US engagements with the South Asian region” her unusual urgency in building up a “strategic relation with India” has surprised few. There had already been an intriguing nexus between BJP-ruled India and Bush administration forming a Delhi-Washington-Tel Aviv axis. The nexus gained a fresh momentum with the neo-cons’ growing desire to bring India within the fold of their oft-expressed policy of containing China. It is no secret that the neo-con cold warriors see China as the only strategic rival of the US and want to draw India into a military alliance against it. No wonder when asked whether the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meant what she had stated in Delhi that “the US policy was to help India become a major world power in the 21st century” the State Department emphasised that “Washington understands fully the implication of that statement”. Clearly it is this American policy of encircling China, the United States needs India to complete the circle while some of the US’ staunchest allies like South Korea, Japan and Australia already obstruct any of China’s outward thrust in Asia-Pacific.
Alarmed by the US designs and recent developments in the neighbourhood China has been earnestly mending fences with the immediate neighbours. As a part of it the Chinese Prime Minister recently undertook a high profile visit to Delhi to totally erase the bitterness that was created in the wake of 1962 Sino-Indian border war. The growing rapprochment between the Asian giants is already some years old but has gathered momentum in recent time and has gone far beyond the expectations of most political observers especially when it is recalled that India’s Defence Minister George Fernandes spoke of ‘Chinese threat to justify Pokhran-II as late as in May 1998.