Two years since the Sino-Indian border crisis, it is worth asking whether Beijing, by flaring up troop deployment on the Indian border, completely misread India's foreign policy moves on the Quad and how its ties with the US are evolving. India's abstentions on the Ukraine issue despite being a Quad member might have been more enlightening, prompting Beijing to have a relook at New Delhi's strategic choices.
Suppose India's abstentions are a guide to New Delhi's foreign policy thinking. In that case, its actions only underline longstanding continuity in India's approach, rooted in the tradition of non-alignment. New Delhi actively resisted drawing itself into the US-Soviet rivalry throughout the Cold War years. Despite seeking military aid from both the Soviet Union and Western nations, New Delhi steered clear of joining any bloc while maintaining its strategic autonomy. Furthermore, the Indian side has always maintained that the Quad remains a dialogue forum rather than a military alliance.
India's participation in the Quad has been largely independent of its ties with Beijing. Similarly, at the heart of India's Indo-Pacific engagement lie its vital economic and business interests. Despite repeated claims to be a meaningful contributor to regional security, India’s role remains circumscribed by various institutional and regional constraints.
Disregarding the discernible continuity in New Delhi's strategic behavior, Beijing's assessment of India's defense ties with the US appears to be informed by a zero-sum view of international politics. Beijing's aggressive moves on India's border and its coercive behavior towards many Southeast Asian countries have arguably been the driver for the Quad's appearing to take on a military character.
By precipitating a crisis on the Indian borders, Beijing's actions only enhanced India's bargaining position with Western countries. The West’s willingness to share cutting-edge military technologies and lure India into defense partnerships arises from Beijing's needless provocation and wolf-warrior reaction.