Don't Expect India to Take Sides in a War with China
India is not a formal treaty ally of the United States, and we shouldn’t expect it to act as if it were one.
Hal Brands wonders what India would do in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan:
But none of this ensures that India will cast its lot, militarily or diplomatically, with a pro-Taiwan coalition. Appeals to common democratic values or norms of nonaggression won’t persuade India to aid Taiwan any more than they have induced it to help Ukraine.
Armchair strategists might dream of opening a second front in the Himalayas, but India might be paralyzed by fear that openly aiding the US anywhere would simply give China a pretext to batter overmatched, unprepared Indian forces on their shared frontier.
It would make no sense for the Indian government to side with a U.S.-led coalition against China in the event of a conflict. Not only would India have no compelling reason to take Washington’s side in a conflict, but it would be risking serious retaliation later on if it did. We should not expect the Indian government to take a significant risk when they stand to gain little or nothing from doing so.