In the contemporary globalised world, China has become the epitome of openness, inclusiveness, and transparency. Its foreign relations are shaped by: yes to peace; no to conflict, yes to cooperation; no to competition, yes to global justice; no to hegemony, and yes to win-sum; no to zero-sum considerations in its global foreign policy pursuits. The US, on the other hand, frustrated by its relative decline and the rise of China, has opted for a protectionist trade war against China. Therefore, it will not be misleading to assume that the US has conceded its economic sphere to China and no longer champions free trade and globalisation. Inevitably, this trajectory; its economic partnerships, and security alliances will shape the future politico-economic order and security environment of the world. This piece — albeit hypothetically — aims to discuss the significance of the Indo-China relationship in evolving global power dynamics and how this relationship can affect the future global order. 21st century China, under president Xi Jinping, is becoming assertive, bold, and decisive. Xi’s proactive approach makes him a direct descendent of Mao Zedong. And while he has the sagacity of Mao, he also has the rigor of Deng Xiaoping. The former built China politically and the latter modernised its economy. To achieve the objective of the Chinese dream with socialist dispensation, China, after successfully making the Asian region dependent on itself, is now going global through foreign investments and infrastructural diplomacy. For that matter, it has initiated the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) — a branding project to enhance Chinese soft power through Silk Road connectivity and economic integration. President Xi introduced the concept of ‘Asian community and Asian security’, to solidify regional cooperation in political, economic, and security affairs. This Easternisation of Asia, attracted criticism from the US, citing it equivalent to the Monroe Doctrine and terming BRI as a Chinese Marshal Plan, meant to enhance the Chinese sphere of global influence. But, Chinese ascribe the BRI initiative inline with Mao’s military disposition, reads, “Where the enemy advances, we retreat: Where the enemy retreats, we pursue.” Putting it simply, this Silk Road approach under the Chinese West March strategy is merely a response to US rebalancing to Asia — an offshore balancing strategy to constrain the peaceful rise of China by keeping heavy military presence in Indo-pacific oceans and forging regional alliances. This rebalancing strategy, with India in the US camp, is unbalancing South Asia and altering the dynamics of Indian Ocean politics. China assures her neighbours that her rise is neither disruptive nor violent, and it wants to bring all regional interaction into the domain of low politics Acting upon the advice of the wise Mao, China is making inroads into Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Afghanistan. This shrewd move by the provident Chinese leadership has perplexed Washington, and forced it to look for other options. India, while dealing a powerful China in its neighbourhood, pursues a two pronged policy: one, engaging with China bilaterally and multilaterally using regional and global frameworks like SCO and BRICS that has allowed India to deepen its economic relations with China to the height of a staggering $84.5 billion; second, India perceives China as a security threat aspiring for regional hegemony, therefore, its creeping alliance with the US is a balancing act to overcome its security dilemma vis-à-vis China. Contrary to these developments, China assures her neighbours that her rise is neither disruptive nor violent, and it wants to bring all regional interaction into the domain of low politics, (that deals social and economic issues) fearing a regional competition that will ultimately give way to extra-regional powers into regional politics. Today’s China, though capable of shaping its immediate environment, has assumed a modest restraint vis-à-vis India. Why? A new Cold War between the US and Soviet Union best answers the question. When the tight bipolar Cold war was still ongoing, the China factor was always considered in the US-Soviet strategic calculus. In the 21st century, geostrategic configurations, changing global power structure and resultant strategic competition between US and China has enabled India to make gains in terms of status, similar to what China enjoyed in the early 1970s. The de-escalation of the 73 day long stand-off on the Doklam plateau with no clear winner was yet another reflection of both the aforementioned characteristics; win-win thinking and prudent Chinese leadership. A prolonged military stand-off would have undermined the Chinese image of peaceful coexistence and adversely affected the BRI, benefitting both Tokyo and Washington. Successful resolve of Doklam faceoff and the resultant intensification of political communication reveals that, both China and India are coming closer in a systematic manner to mend fences for the economic development of South Asia and Asia at large. After foreign ministers’ meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation held in Beijing on April 24, 2018, where Indian foreign Minister Shushma Swaraj met with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and disclosed that Indian premier Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi will hold an informal summit in China on April 27 and 28. This is being termed as a ‘new starting point’, between India and China that needed a reset for the forthcoming SCO summit in June, where Modi is scheduled to travel China again. This ice breaking trip is expected to cover, ongoing US-China trade war and the role of the WTO, BRI, Indian quest for securing Chinese support for Indian NSG bid, CPEC, and Moulana Masood Azhar. As far as China-Pakistan bilateralism is concerned, India accuses China of using Pakistan as an affective counterweight against India. These back-to-back meetings between two of Asia’s economic giants, are primarily driven by China to engage India constructively. This is because China believes that without Indian support and rule-based international approach of global financial institutions, globalisation will not yield dividends to utmost potentials. Former Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao’s remarks highlights the significance of India in Chinese strategic circles, “when China and India shake hand, the whole world will be watching”. What remains to be seen is, how will India respond to these Chinese efforts? Will it be a partner in progress or a strategic competitor in the region and beyond? Unfortunately, Modi, has always played a double threat (China and Pakistan) card for domestic political mileage. Apparently, he seems to be appeasing his US and Western partners by tailoring anti-China rhetoric. This idiom is tempting US to use India as an instrument of containment against China by augmenting Indian naval capabilities in the Indian Ocean region. Moreover, an external enemy like Pakistan will help Modi, whose domestic populace is divided because of the state sponsored right wing Hindutva ideology, bring internal cohesion and consolidation by silencing dissenting voices through tight policing and counter terrorism measures. Conclusively, India had been a huge blind spot in Chinese foreign policy, but a looming global rivalry has compelled China to reconsider its Indian policy to actualise a multipolar world order with Indian support, as this will be conducive to both: India’s neighbourhood first policy; and, China’s harmonious world and rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Otherwise, in a new cold war, India will definitely be receiving large caches of arms as Indo-Pacific police man but, at the expense of the economic development of more than 1.2 billion Indians because the US aspires to counter Chinese economic rise with military means. The writer is PhD (IR) Candidate at National Defence University Islamabad, Pakistan, Visiting faculty at NDU, Lecturer at National Officers Academy, Islamabad, Pakistan. Published in Daily Times, May 1st 2018.