China Rises; Point is to Keep It Peace­ful

The Economic Times - - Breaking Ideas -

China’s war games with the Rus­sian navy in the Baltic Sea come on the heels of China open­ing an ex­trater­ri­to­rial base in Dji­bouti, its test run of an indige­nous air­craft car­rier and its de­ploy­ment of world-class de­stroy­ers. Western pow­ers ac­knowl­edge China’s rise as a world power and seek its in­te­gra­tion into sta­bil­ity-in­duc­ing shar­ing of re­spon­si­bil­ity such as pro­vid­ing mar­itime se­cu­rity along the ma­jor sea lanes. This is no cause for alarm for In­dia or other coun­tries in the Asia-Pa­cific. Nor is it a cause for cheer. In­dia sim­ply has to find ways to keep China’s rise peace­ful. For a while, the US and China shared an idyll some dubbed the G2. This new great-power re­la­tion­ship made coun­tries in the Asia-Pa­cific un­com­fort­able. As with his Rus­sian coun­ter­part, Xi Jin­ping’s vi­sion for his coun­try in­cludes the restora­tion of past glory. That and the more mun­dane need to de­ploy unutilised in­dus­trial ca­pac­ity and ex­cess sav­ings un­der­lie Pres­i­dent Xi’s sig­na­ture One Belt, One Road ini­tia­tive. Past US ad­min­is­tra­tions sought to check and bal­ance China’s run­away am­bi­tions — by di­verse means such as re­mov­ing western curbs on In­dia’s strate­gic ca­pac­ity, via the nu­clear deal, and the Trans Pa­cific Part­ner­ship that sought to set the rules of new eco­nomic en­gage­ment with­out China’s par­tic­i­pa­tion. But Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Amer­ica-First blus­ter has left the field open for China and pushed Europe, the UK and Turkey to­wards it.

China has good re­la­tions with Rus­sia, on the surface, but ten­sions rip­ple below. In­dia must re­build its once-close ties with Rus­sia and put new vigour in re­la­tions with Iran and Europe, in­stead of get­ting lost in the ex­er­tions of Act­ing East. Coun­ter­ing China will re­quire In­dia to build up its own strate­gic ca­pac­ity, lev­er­ag­ing its huge mar­ket to the hilt.

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