The India-China Relationship: What the United States Needs to Know

By Francine R. Frankel; Harry Harding | Go to book overview

10
The Evolution of the Strategic Triangle:
China, India, and the United States

Harry Harding

The concept of a strategic triangle has become familiar to analysts of international affairs. It refers to a situation in which three major powers are sufficiently important to each other that a change in the relationship between any two of them has a significant impact on the interests of the third. The greater that impact, actual or potential, the greater is the significance of the triangular relationship.

During the Cold War, the most important strategic triangle was the relationship among the Soviet Union, the United States, and China. The collapse of the alliance between Moscow and Beijing in the late 1950s and 1960s caused a fundamental change in the relations among these three nations. At first, Beijing adopted a “dual adversary” policy toward both superpowers, but it eventually concluded that the threat from the Soviet Union was too great to confront alone. The Nixon administration was quick to see that an accommodation between the United States and China would change the global balance of power decisively in favor of the United States.

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