Washington: India's main security concern now is an assertive China, which does not acknowledge its status as a global player, and not the increasingly decrepit state of Pakistan, according to an American think-tank.
"India's main security concern today is not the increasingly decrepit state of Pakistan but rather an evermore assertive China, whose ambitions are likely to reshape the contours of the regional and global balances of power with deleterious consequences for Indian interests," said the report titled 'Growing Complexities of Sino-India Ties'.
The report by the US Army College's Strategic Studies Institute says India's ties with China are gradually becoming competitive, with a sentiment gaining ground among Indian policy elites that China is not sensitive to its core security interests and does not acknowledge its status as a global player.
"India is rather belatedly gearing up to respond to China's rise with a mix of internal consolidation and external partnerships. The most important element in this matrix is India's emerging strategic partnership with the United States," said the report authored by Harsha V Pant, Professor of International Relations at the King's College London.
India "has looked to Washington for support as both Sino- Indian and Sino-US competition has come into sharper relief in recent years. As Sino-Indian ties pass through a phase of turmoil, Washington will have to play the critical role of a balancer with even greater finesse than before," it said.
As a new balance of power takes shape, India will be an indispensable element in that architecture, even as the US remains a key player in managing the Sino-Indian dynamic, it said, adding that New Delhi will not be part of an explicit alliance framework with the US against China but instead will look to it to manage the power transition in Asia and its attendant consequences.
The report said China's rapid global ascent will bring the US and India even closer, but India's traditional desire to retain strategic autonomy will preclude the emergence of any formal structure defining this bilateral relationship.
"India is beginning to receive attention from Washington as a rising power on a par with China. This process should continue with US policymakers viewing Asia as a single region whose future will to a large extent be shaped by the trajectory of Sino-Indian ties," the report said.
"The US should encourage New Delhi to enhance its presence further in East and Southeast Asia," the report said.
Although it is clearly in the interest of both China and India to stabilise their relationship by seeking out convergent issue areas, a troubled history, coupled with the structural uncertainties engendered by their simultaneous rise, is propelling the two Asian giants on a trajectory that they might find rather difficult to navigate in the future.
Pursuing mutually desirable interests does not inevitably produce satisfactory solutions to strategic problems.
"Sino-Indian ties have entered turbulent times, and they are likely to remain there for the foreseeable future," it said.