The Candid Eye

January 23, 2010

Why India should not get too close to China?

There is no need for India to club its future with that of the Middle Kingdom, notes Claude Arpi.

Indians are good people, but this can sometimes become a problem, especially in the fields of defence and foreign policy. Why so?

Too often they believe that others are like them. The best example has been the first Indian prime minister’s Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai policy. Jawaharlal Nehru believed in the fraternity of nations, he believed in peaceful co-existence, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; he tried hard to impose these lofty principles on India’s neighbours, and particularly on China.

A clever Zhou Enlai pretended to agree with the principles, but his mind functioned differently. Zhou, like his mentor Mao Zedong, was a hardcore revolutionary who believed in the omnipotence of war. Is it not the Great Helmsman who wrote, ‘Some people have ridiculed us as the advocates of omnipotence of war. Yes, we are: We are the advocates of the omnipotence of the revolutionary war, which is not bad at all, but good and is Marxist.’

Chinese Flag

There is nothing wrong in believing in the omnipotence of peace, as long one does not forget that others may think (and act) differently.In the case of Nehru, the result was not long to come; eight years after signing the Panchsheel Agreement, China treacherously attacked India in the North East Frontier Agency and Ladakh. The nation paid a heavy price for not being able to understand the Chinese way of thinking.

The tragedy is that 50 years later, many in India still believe that the priority No 1 of India’s foreign policy should be to be friends with China. Once again, there is nothing wrong to be China’s ‘friend’ or even ‘brother’, but it should not be at the cost of India’s interests or by bending backward over each whim and fancy of a single-party regime in Beijing.

In India, you will find different types of apologists. Some could be called ‘lackeys’ (to use Mao’s parlance): They usually have business or academic interests in China and love the reception they get when they travel to the Middle Kingdom. Let us not waste time over them.

Many sincerely believe that India and China are two emerging economies, for a long time under the political and economic thumb of the West (in particular the United States), therefore their destiny is intimately linked. Their ‘logical’ conclusion is that Beijing and Delhi [ Images ] should work in tandem. They give a recent example: the common position at Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change.

I will not go into details but I totally disagree. Although there is one common denominator (the fast development rate), India’s case is totally different from China’s.

Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently stated in Washington: ‘Well, I have no hesitation in saying that I think development in India cannot be a carbon copy of what happens in China. And the Chinese system is very different.’

India

Speaking to CNN, he reiterated his government’s stand: ‘There is enough economic space for both our countries to realise the growth ambitions of our respective countries.’ He however made it clear: ‘We are a functioning democracy… Democracy is slow-moving… I always believed that it may be slow-moving in the short term, but in the long run, an arrangement which has the backing of the people at large will prove to be more durable.’

If one analyses the future of the two countries, this should be kept in mind. India and China are different and their destinies may go in opposite directions.

Wei Jingsheng, the most famous Chinese dissident who spent 18 years in jail for proposing in the 1970’s ‘democracy’ as the fifth ‘modernisation’, (Deng Xiaoping had spoken of the Four Modernisations) recently wrote an article in The Christian Science Monitor. He opposed the sentence of 11 years in prison for the mild dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Wei noted that because China ‘now sits prominently at the tables of global governance’, its leaders think thus: ‘Since you made a fuss about releasing Liu after his arrest, we will punish him even more severely. In no uncertain terms, that will let you know that not only don’t we care what you think, but we don’t have to.’

Wei adds: ‘We Chinese are intimately acquainted with this authoritarian arrogance’, before concluding: ‘Now that China’s leaders believe their prospering nation has emerged as a player in world history just as America’s prestige has been weakened by the Iraq war and the recent financial meltdown, the hardliners have been able to wrest the upper hand once again.’

No goody-goody Indian analyst will view things like this, though Indian ‘experts’ would better grasp China if they could understand the centrality of the survival of the Communist party in the preoccupation of all Chinese leaders.

Today there is one issue which preoccupies the apparatchiks in Beijing more than anything else: the rate of the yuan. Indeed the fate of the regime depends on the continuation of the growth rate which itself largely depends on the low rate of the Chinese currency.

In 2009, the Barack Obama  administration tried the bhai-bhai way with Beijing, accepting to drop a proposed meeting between the Dalai Lama and later forgetting all contentious issues during the November presidential visit to Beijing. But it did not pay off; Beijing hardened its stance in all fronts.

In 2010, Obama seems decided to show the mandarins in Beijing that the US remains a power to reckon with. He will meet the Dalai Lama and sell Black Hawk helicopters and anti-missile batteries to Taiwan.

The Washington Post pointed out that many American analysts today believe that ‘the Obama administration — with its intensive outreach to Beijing — tried too hard in its first year to cultivate ties with China. Playing hard to get might have helped smooth out China’s swagger.’

Another US expert explained: ‘We’re in the role of the supplicant’ while a senior US trade official mildly threatened: ‘If [Beijing] continues on this particular path in a strong and inflexible way, there will be a significant political backlash not just in the United States. China needs to be aware of that.’

For these reasons, Beijing will have to reevaluate its currency, sooner or later. Even in China many agree that China has no choice. Zhang Bing, a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, stated in a research paper that the government’s current yuan policy of gradual reform is wrong. Zhang admitted: ‘There’s a very urgent need for pushing forward the reform plan on the yuan and now is the best timing.’ He concluded that ‘a 10 percent appreciation in the yuan against the dollar should have a limited impact on the Chinese economy. It would reduce speculative fund inflows by effectively eliminating expectations of a yuan appreciation.’

Whether Beijing decides to reevaluate the yuan in 2010 or not, ultimately the decision is inescapable and this will have incalculable consequences for the Middle Kingdom.

On January 1, Swaminathan Aiyar in The Economic Times predicted that during the next decade: ‘India will overtake China as the fastest-growing economy in the world. China will start ageing and suffering from a declining workforce, and will be forced to revalue its currency. So its growth will decelerate, just as Japan decelerated in the 1990s after looking unstoppable in the 1980s. Having become the world’s second-biggest economy, China’s export-oriented model will erode sharply — the world will no longer be able to absorb its exports at the earlier pace.’

Well, the future will tell us if the prediction was true. But in the meantime, Chinese supremacy may continue for some time. According to deal tracking firm Dealogic: ‘Global property sector M&A [merger & acquisitions] reached just $151.8 billion in 2009, the lowest level since 2003’. However, China witnessed an increase of 41 percent in its M&A levels from its previous year: ‘China attracted deals amounting to $29.3 billion or 19 percent of the global volume — the highest total on record,’ commented Dealogic.

The only certainty is that the situation of the Middle Kingdom is far more unstable than in India. A scenario found on The Financial Times’ web site makes interesting studying. The author projects himself to 2019 when shortage of water in China heralds the end of an epoch: ‘By 2015, it was [already] obvious: China was seriously parched. The Great Wall of Credit of 2009-2012 had unleashed too much industrial capacity consuming too much water. That exacerbated a nationwide shortage — China had more than a fifth of the world’s population, but only 6 per cent of its fresh water. Four years later and the crisis has taken on ruinous dimensions. Crop failure and famine in the deserted interiors; emergency rationing in the teeming coastal cities… Ten years ago [2009] China had it all: a well-nourished workforce, vast reserves of paper money, a new swagger on the international stage. The sharp currency revaluation of 2010 unleashed a global mergers and acquisitions spree the likes of which the world had never seen… That president Xi Jinping is considering beseeching poorer neighbours for food aid is a measure of how far the mighty have fallen.’

One can envisage several other scenarios, but one point is certain, China will have to face far more serious problems than India in the years to come. For sure, there is no need for India to club its future with that of the Middle Kingdom. One of the possible future scenarios is certainly a conflict with India for water which will be triggered by the nervousness of the declining empire.India can continue to believe in the omnipotence of peace, but it should be ready for any eventuality.

Related Posts:

India must be fully prepared to defend its borders

Can Indian leadership handle China?

China as Nuclear proliferator

China working on Maoist SIMI nexus in South India?

China should breakup India – Strategist

Why China may attack India by 2012?

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September 8, 2009

Chinese incursions in India – 2

Our earlier article is here:- Chinese incursions in India.

After LAC incursions, China now violates International Border in Ladakh

LEH (J&K): After helicopter incursions into Indian airspace, the Chinese Army has brazenly violated the International Border in Ladakh region and painted boulders and rocks in the area red. ( Watch Video )


The Chinese troops entered nearly 1.5 kilometres into the Indian territory near Mount Gya, recognised as International border by India and China, and painted the boulders and rocks with red spray paint, official sources said.

The incursions were reported from the area, generally referred in the Chumar sector in east of Leh, and painted “China” in Cantonese with Red spray paint all over the boulders and rocks, they said.

The 22,420 ft Mount Gya, also known as “fair princess of snow” by Army is located at the tri-junction of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, and Tibet. Its boundary was marked during the British era and regarded as International border by the two countries.

The border patrol discovered the red paint markings on various rocks and boulders along the Zulung La (pass) on July 31 and the Chinese had entered into the area and written “China” and “China” all over the place, the sources said.

When asked to comment on the issue, an Army spokesperson declined to answer any queries regarding this saying it was an operational matter.

August 14, 2009

Chinese incursions in India

Source: TOI

Chinese incursions into Indian territory rose sharply in 2008
Indrani Bagchi

Chinese incursions into Indian territory peaked in 2008, with 270 “violations” being recorded in the western, middle and eastern
sectors. In 2009, they appear to have let up a little on the aggression front, with a little over 60 violations occurring thus far. Chinese violations made headlines last year, signalling a belligerence that made India jittery.

View Map on Google

With the first batch of advanced Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets getting ready to be deployed in Tezpur and Chabua, Assam, India is slowly responding to the uncertainties of Chinese intentions, by enhancing its state of preparedness in the area. According to the former air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, India will deploy a full squadron of these fighter jets in the eastern sector.

Recent figures point to a sharp spike in border violations and aggressive patrolling by Chinese all along the undemarcated border with India since 2007. Aggressive patrolling by Chinese forces, particularly in the western sector, have resulted in 2,285 instances in 2008, as compared to 778 instances in 2007. Indian authorities have recorded 413 instances in 2009 so far.

The brunt of aggressive patrolling by the Chinese has been felt in Demchok, Koyul and Chushul areas in Ladakh. The western sector, i.e. Ladakh, has borne the maximum number of violations, though it’s been the Chinese activity in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim areas that have attracted greater attention. India has, in response, set up forward landing bases in Daulat Beg Oldi and Chushul in Ladakh.

Earlier this year, questioned on the repeated incursions, foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon had told journalists at a function in New Delhi that he did not think these were intended to change the status quo between India and China. “I do not see the kind of changes in the pattern that would suggest that either side is determined to change the status quo or something fundamental has changed for the worse.”

But it is China’s apparently declared interest in southern Tibet and Tawang in the eastern sector that is of greater concern to India, particularly since they continue to press their claim over all of Arunachl Pradesh. In 2008, just the area in Kongra La Pass (what’s popularly known as Finger Point) in north Sikkim recorded six violations.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the Asaphila area and Dichu/Madan Bridge were worst hit, recording violations even this year. But officials describe the area as by and large “stable”. Questioned about repeated incursions by China, officials say it’s a “regular” occurrence and generally downplay it. But security officials say Chinese troops became adventurous even during the recent election season in India, indulging in “aggressive patrolling” in sections of Arunachal Pradesh.

It is in response to these that India has now taken significant steps to beef up security here. Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, General JJ Singh, said on Saturday that two more army divisions will be deployed along the Sino-Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh within a few years.

“It is true that within a few years, two army divisions comprising 25,000 to 30,000 personnel each will be deployed along the Arunachal border as part of planned augmentation of our capabilities to defend the country,” the former army chief was quoted as saying.

“Increase of force strength is to meet future national security challenges,” he added. “Enhancement of quality of weapons, fighting platforms, intelligence gathering along with increased deployment of personnel and Sukhoi combat jets in nearby Tezpur base in Assam besides construction of border roads and other infrastructure are part of the plan to develop capabilities in a phased manner within the next few years to effectively meet challenges in the eastern theatre,” the governor said.

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