In­dia and China – Fu­ture Tra­jec­tory

As long as China does not in­dulge in more in­cur­sions es­pe­cially with sign­ing of the Bor­der De­fence Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment, am­ple scope ex­ists for the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship to be taken to new heights con­cur­rent to peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of the bor­der

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd)

As long as China does not in­dulge in more in­cur­sions es­pe­cially with sign­ing of the Bor­der De­fence Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment, am­ple scope ex­ists for the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship to be taken to new heights con­cur­rent to peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of the bor­der

WITH THE CHI­NESE DIS­EN­GAGE­MENT from Chu­mar, some sense seems to have re­turned in tak­ing the In­dia-China re­la­tion­ship to the next level. The decision was ap­par­ently taken by China after the flag meet­ing re­quested by China for the first time and dis­cus­sion be­tween For­eign Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj with her Chi­nese coun­ter­part in the US. But more per­haps what S. Gurumurthy wrote on Septem­ber 26, 2014 in his ar­ti­cle ‘Naren­dra Modi’s Strat­egy: To Right The Wrong Im­age’, wherein he wrote, “Modi looked into Xi’s eyes and raised the bor­der in­cur­sions of Chi­nese Army in Ladakh. Forbes mag­a­zine re­ported, - Modi asked Xi to get his troops away - Xi ac­qui­esced. In con­trast, for the last 10 years, In­dia had only bent and crawled be­fore China. On reach­ing China, Xi took ac­tion against those who at­tempted to sab­o­tage the Si­noIn­dian re­la­tions and also to pro­mote his loy­al­ists to top po­si­tions in the Army. Like with Sharif, with Xi also Modi had had his way.” The ob­ser­va­tion by Forbes ap­pears strange with tight Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) con­trol over ev­ery­thing Chi­nese es­pe­cially the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) di­rectly un­der whom the bor­der di­vi­sions func­tion, un­less some­one / some peo­ple within the CPC wanted to de­rail the In­dia-China re­la­tion­ship in con­trast to what Pres­i­dent Xi wanted. Un­for­tu­nately, the old guard of CPC buoyed by the PLA con­tin­ues to base its strat­a­gem on Mao Zhe­dong’s one-time state­ment (en­dorsed by Deng Xiaop­ing) that “Ti­bet is the palm of China and Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and NEFA are its fin­gers”, lit­tle re­al­is­ing strong-arm tac­tics won’t work any­more and more im­por­tantly go­ing back in his­tory, In­dia too can lay claims to en­tire of re­gion up to Hin­dukush Moun­tains, parts Ti­bet, Sri Lanka, Mal­dives, Bangladesh, parts of Burma (now Myan­mar), Malaysia and In­done­sia – which would be a most fool­ish propo­si­tion. It is also strange that Wei Wei the Chi­nese Am­bas­sador at New Delhi has been re­moved pre­ma­turely though much be­fore Pres­i­dent Xi’s visit to In­dia he had writ­ten in the Eco­nomic Times

the vast po­ten­tial that In­dia-China re­la­tion­ship has.

Time to Re­view Friend­ships and Align­ments

Nev­er­the­less, as long as China does not in­dulge in more in­cur­sions es­pe­cially with sign­ing of the Bor­der De­fence Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment (BDCA), am­ple scope ex­ists for the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship to be taken to new heights con­cur­rent to peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of the bor­der. In­dia’s Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter had stated, “When they [China] raised with us the is­sue of Ti­bet and Tai­wan, we shared their sen­si­bil­i­ties. So, we want they should un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate our sen­si­bil­i­ties re­gard­ing Arunachal Pradesh.” Ad­di­tion­ally, our Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor has con­veyed to Beijing Chi­nese ac­tiv­i­ties in Pak­istan oc­cu­pied Kashmir that will af­fect the res­o­lu­tion of the Kashmir is­sue. China and more im­por­tantly Pres­i­dent Xi has to think about this. China needs to recog­nise the Great Game un­fold­ing in South Asia, the ob­jec­tive of which is geopo­lit­i­cal in­flu­enc­ing be­tween the West and China-Rus­sia much the same way it has been played and is still be­ing played in Mid­dle East and else­where. Pre­ma­ture pull­out of US-NATO forces from Afghanistan, re­fo­cus­ing of Al Qaeda to South Asia and mass in­duc­tion of weapons for Xin­jiang rebels (ir­re­spec­tive whether the con­duit is via In­done­sia or else­where) are all part of this strat­egy. More im­por­tant for China is to un­der­stand that in check­mat­ing China on land in South Asia from reach­ing out to the In­dian Ocean re­gion (IOR), the West will use Pak­istan and her prox­ies, as is cur­rently hap­pen­ing in Mid­dle East. Not­with­stand­ing China-Pak­istan re­la­tions, Pak­istan re­tains the strate­gic po­ten­tial to as­sist the West in con­tain­ment of Rus­sia and China through her prox­ies, in tan­dem with her global ter­ror­ist links. The dark shadow of ISIS and Al Qaeda sup­ported by Pak­istan Tal­iban, its fac­tions and other ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions, all co­or­di­nated and sup­ported by Pak­istan with fi­nan­cial support from Saudi Ara­bia and al­lies is loom­ing large over Xin­jiang and South Asia. It is for China to re­view its friend­ships and align­ments. Still more im­por­tantly, China needs to ac­knowl­edge that In­dia has emerged as ‘the’ Swing State in this new Great Game and very much part of China’s Silk Route diplo­macy, that too free of choke points, no mat­ter how dis­torted Ad­mi­ral Zheng’s 15th cen­tury nar­ra­tive has be­come over the decades. It is for China to an­a­lyse whether it wants to con­tinue show­ing mus­cle to push In­dia firmly into the US strat­egy to ‘Re­bal­ance Asia’ or have bet­ter re­la­tions with In­dia so that the lat­ter (to­gether with China) can play a con­struc­tive role for bet­ter­ment of the re­gion and the world.

Set­tle­ment of Bor­der Is­sues

Log­i­cally, if China wants In­dia to sign on the dot­ted line of ‘One China’ pol­icy, it should do like­wise ac­cept­ing ‘One In­dia’ in­clud­ing ‘recog­nis­ing the ac­ces­sion of the State of J&K to In­dia on Oc­to­ber 26, 1947’. Sure that would make Chi­nese oc­cu­pa­tion of the Shaks­gam Val­ley and Ak­sai Chin il­le­gal but that can be ne­go­ti­ated be­tween the spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tives of both coun­tries charged with ne­go­ti­at­ing the bor­der. No one bet­ter than Pres­i­dent Xi would un­der­stand the strate­gic pay­offs for claim­ing more and more ter­ri­tory vis- à- vis early set­tle­ment of the bor­der is­sue in mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able terms. This would not only give the In­dia-China part­ner­ship a quantum jump, the strate­gic pay­off would lead to es­tab­lish­ment of mul­ti­ple north-south eco­nomic, en­ergy and trans­porta­tion cor­ri­dors (road and rail) link­ing Rus­si­aChina and In­dia that could come through the av­enues of Chumbi Val­ley-Nathu La (al­ready agreed to as al­ter­nate route for Kailash Mansarover ya­tra), through Nepal and other mu­tu­ally agreed av­enues, link­ing right down to In­dian ports.

China’s In­tru­sions

On tak­ing over the man­tle of Prime Min­is­ter, Naren­dra Modi had re­ferred to me­moirs of the 7th cen­tury Chi­nese Scholar Hi­uen Tsang in his con­ver­sa­tion with Chi­nese Premier Li Ke­qiang to un­der­line the im­por­tance of ties be­tween the two coun­tries. Sub­se­quently, in his meet­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Modi in Brazil, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping had said that as the two big­gest de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and emerg­ing mar­kets, both China and In­dia are in a great his­tor­i­cal process of re­al­is­ing na­tional re­ju­ve­na­tion; thus, what the two count ries value most is peace and de­vel­op­ment, and the ideals and goals of the two coun­tries are linked closely. Later Xi went on record to say, “When In­dia and China speak in one voice, the world will pay at­ten­tion --The com­bi­na­tion of the world’s fac­tory and the world’s back of­fice will pro­duce the most com­pet­i­tive pro­duc­tion base.” But then came a sud­den damper to Xi Jin­ping’s visit – the in­cur­sions in Dep­sang and Chu­mar. This was ap­par­ently part of the ar­chaic CPC’s stand­ing op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dure dur­ing / close to high-level vis­its is well known: Chi­nese troops in­truded six km into In­dia in Fe­bru­ary 1997 follow-

Prime Min­is­ter Modi was ex­plicit in say­ing that a “cli­mate of mu­tual trust and con­fi­dence; re­spect for each other’s sen­si­tiv­i­ties and con­cerns; and, peace and sta­bil­ity in our [In­dia and China] re­la­tions and along our bor­ders are es­sen­tial for us to re­alise the enor­mous po­ten­tial in our re­la­tions”

ing Pres­i­dent Jiang Zemin’s visit to In­dia in pre­ced­ing De­cem­ber; Chi­nese in­tru­sion in Arunachal in June 2003 dur­ing Va­j­payee’s visit to PRC; Chi­nese in­tru­sion in Arunachal in May 2005 in af­ter­math of Prime Min­is­ter Wen Jibao’s visit to In­dia; just prior to Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao’s visit in Novem­ber 2006, Sun Yuxi an­nounced en­tire Arunachal is part of Chi­nese fief­dom; and pro­longed Chi­nese in­tru­sion in Dep­sang Plains prior to and dur­ing Prime Min­is­ter Li Ke­qiang’s visit to In­dia in May 2013.

China’s In­vest­ments

But then Chi­nese com­pa­nies have al­ready in­vested $396 mil­lion in In­dia, while Chi­nese com­pa­nies had ex­e­cuted in­fra­struc­ture con­tracts in In­dia worth $24.7 bil­lion till 2011, cu­mu­la­tive con­trac­tual value of th­ese projects be­ing $53.46 bil­lion as per the Con­fed­er­a­tion of In­dian In­dus­try (CII) es­ti­mates. Chi­nese com­pa­nies have also been in­vest­ing in the power sec­tor. In­dian mar­kets are flooded with Chi­nese goods, im­ports of Chi­nese toys, gaming and sports alone amount­ing to $36.7 mil­lion dur­ing 2013-14. It is no se­cret that China has been eye­ing In­dia mar­kets in ma­jor way. Just be­fore Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s visit, me­dia talked of a $100 bil­lion in­vest­ment pack­age be­ing brought by him, over­shad­ow­ing Ja­pan’s $35 bil­lion in­vest­ment. How­ever, in this par­tic­u­lar in­stance, two-tim­ing the Dep­sang-Chu­mar in­tru­sions with Xi’s visit was un­wise not only be­cause of the BDCA but also be­cause of China con­tra­dict­ing her own re­it­er­a­tion that bor­der pop­u­la­tion should not be dis­turbed. Prime Min­is­ter Modi was ex­plicit in say­ing that a “cli­mate of mu­tual trust and con­fi­dence; re­spect for each other’s sen­si­tiv­i­ties and con­cerns; and, peace and sta­bil­ity in our [In­dia and China] re­la­tions and along our bor­ders are es­sen­tial for us to re­alise the enor­mous po­ten­tial in our re­la­tions”. Xi’s planned $100 bil­lion in­vest­ment in In­dia over five years al­ready ap­peared doomed from the be­gin­ning with Beijing’s re­fusal to ac­cept the ‘one-In­dia’ pol­icy while want­ing con­tin­ued In­dian com­mit­ment to ‘one-China’, be­sides other forms of ob­du­racy like sta­pled visas for res­i­dents of Arunachal Pradesh. So, in the bar­gain, what Xi achieved was just a $20 bil­lion in­vest­ment in In­dia over five years, far be­low con­tem­po­rary Ja­pan. Sure Xi’s visit up­graded In­dia-China re­la­tions that re­sulted in the fol­low­ing specifics: Chi­nese com­mit­ment to invest $20 bil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture over next five years; invitation to China to invest in man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor; two Chi­nese in­dus­trial parks will be built in In­dia; new road to Kailash Mansarovar via Nathu La; Mumbai and Shang­hai to be twin ci­ties, as also Ahmed­abad and Guangzhou; com­mit­ment by China to ad­dress bi­lat­eral trade deficit; fa­cil­i­ta­tion of visit of 10,000 pupils from both coun­tries; Chi­nese agree­ment to hold friendly dis­cus­sions to re­solve bor­der is­sues, and invitation to Prime Min­is­ter Modi to visit China next year. Modi had raised the is­sue of the Chi­nese in­cur­sions in Ladakh and said, “There should be peace in Indo-China re­la­tions at the bor­ders. If this hap­pens the two na­tions can re­alise true po­ten­tial”. Xi did say that “China and In­dia are two key na­tions in the multi-po­lar world. The two na­tions share sim­i­lar de­vel­op­ing goals”.

It will be pru­dent for China to shelve the pol­icy of mus­cle flex­ing and go for po­lit­i­cally re­solv­ing the bor­der is­sue in peace­ful man­ner ‘with­out disturbing sta­tus quo of the LAC’ un­til a mu­tual so­lu­tion is found. What China fails to re­alise is that in­stead of mus­cle flex­ing, res­o­lu­tion of bor­der will not only fa­cil­i­tate Chi­nese in­vest­ment in In­dia much beyond the $100 bil­lion that Xi had planned but more im­por­tantly it would give China im­mense strate­gic ad­van­tage through trans­porta­tion, eco­nomic and en­ergy cor­ri­dors link­ing In­dian ports along the In­dian Ocean. Year 2014 is be­ing ob­served by both coun­tries as the ’Year of Friendly Ex­changes’ to step up en­gage­ment on var­i­ous fronts. In­dia launched its big­gest year-long cul­tural fes­ti­val in China called ‘Glimpses of In­dia’ this year. The prospects in in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion in both coun­tries are gi­gan­tic, as is the scope of Chi­nese in­vest­ments in in­fra­struc­ture in In­dia. Time has ar­rived to re­solve out­stand­ing is­sues and kick-start a new phase of strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion, which would mu­tu­ally ben­e­fit both coun­tries im­mensely, ush­er­ing a new chap­ter in Asian his­tory.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi meet­ing the Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at For­tal­iza in Brazil on July 14, 2014

PHO­TO­GRAPH: PIB

The Pres­i­dent of In­dia Pranab Mukher­jee and Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi with the Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and the First Lady Peng Liyuan at the Cer­e­mo­nial Re­cep­tion at Rash­tra­p­ati Bha­van in New Delhi on Septem­ber 18, 2014

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