Strained In­dia-China re­la­tions after SCO meet, game changer CPEC

People's Review - - COMMENTARY - BY N. P. UPADHYAYA

Kath­mandu: As was ex­pected and be­lieved, the In­dian lobby in Kath­mandu have sud­denly be­come ac­tive and has be­gun talk­ing, sorry to say, non­sense and ab­surd. Vil­i­fy­ing China has be­gun un­der in­struc­tions from above per­haps. Their tar­get this time is def­i­nitely Nepal-China re­la­tions which is about to take a new shape for the bet­ter in the days and weeks ahead. Base­less ru­mors and an­tiChina sen­ti­ments are be­ing de­lib­er­ately prop­a­gated in order to dam­age the prospects of Nepal-China re­la­tions which, de­spite the bad mouth from an in­ter­ested quar­ter usu­ally dom­i­nated by In­dian lobby, our ties is to flour­ish come what may. The false news that is be­ing pur­posely aired and pub­li­cized in Kath­mandu's po­lit­i­cal cir­cuit through the tilted me­dia is that Nepal is soon to fall into the debt trap of China and hence care must be taken while sign­ing any deal with the north­ern neigh­bor dur­ing Nepal PM Oli's visit to Bei­jing. A bi­ased me­dia is as good as Hy­dro­gen bomb. In­ter­est­ingly, PM Oli's own party moles too were re­port­edly in this alien controlled busi­ness. By time this is­sue ap­proaches the read­ers, PM Oli will al­ready be in Bei­jing shak­ing hands with his in­ti­mate Chi­nese friends. Se­vere pain could be felt in the SA vicin­ity, a guess work only. That Pak­istan al­ready is be­ing drained by the Chi­nese and that the coun­try is in a Hi­malayan debt trap which shall in all like­li­hood bring Pak­istan to the foot­path is what is be­ing cal­cu­lat­edly pub­lished in the In­dian me­dia and peo­ple of the type of Brahma Chel­lany and the spon­sored In­dian in­tel­lec­tu­als to­gether with the “feku” In­dian me­dia have been cry­ing foul that China will kill Pak­istan's eco­nomic stamina even­tu­ally. In fact the In­dian schol­ars, al­beit the paid ones pre­sum­ably, have been pro­ject­ing the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor to be the one which shall prove to be a bur­den for Pak­istan in that the coun­try can't be able to pay back the bor­rowed Chi­nese money and thus Pak­istan's ex­is­tence shall be in ques­tion. Eco­nomic bank­ruptcy of Pak­istan? Per­haps it is a day dream­ing ex­er­cise for those who wish to dream even in un­usual hours. Yet we would not bar any one from dream­ing. Well, so far we have un­der­stood is that China is not a cruel friend like In­dia and that the money poured in by China into Pak­istan for the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the CPEC pro­jects, the re­ceiv­ing coun­try has the ca­pac­ity to pay the money back to China in a spec­i­fied pe­riod. Ques­tion is also that for fear of land­ing in a pos­si­ble debt trap, should a par­tic­u­lar coun­try re­ject the pop­u­lar am­bi­tion of tak­ing on to the path of de­vel­op­ment? If fear fac­tor dom­i­nates then no coun­try can de­velop. Take it for granted. Some amount of courage must be there if a de­sire to de­velop one's own coun­try is in the mind. To re­call, one Pak­istani min­is­ter in the last gov­ern­ment to­gether with a Pro­fes­sor named Daud Batt had said at a sem­i­nar re­cently that Pak­istan has now the ca­pa­bil­ity of re­pay­ing the Chi­nese debts and that in no way Pak­istan shall fell into the Chi­nese debt trap. China is not that fool to have in­vested in the CPEC pro­jects with­out as­cer­tain­ing the Pak­istani eco­nomic stamina and the po­ten­tial that the coun­try will at­tain upon com­ple­tion of the CPEC pro­jects and pay back the money it lent to Pak­istan. If China is con­fi­dent then why the hu­pla gu­pla? The CPEC once com­pleted, be­lieve the Pak­ista­nis, will be a game changer. So says re­peat­edly Mushahid Hus­sain, the noted for­mer Pak­istani jour­nal­ist. Per­haps it is this game changer in the mak­ing that has an­noyed the In­dian lobby both in Nepal and out­side. Some per­mis­si­ble amount of jeal­ousy is good for fa­tigued In­dian diplo­macy. So the cry of the In­dian me­dia be­ing made against CPEC which have been copied un­for­tu­nately by some Nepali schol­ars is noth­ing but a cal­cu­lated de­sign of the South which has in­flu­enced some in­no­cent souls in Nepal. But at what cost? Just keep on guess­ing. The idea is to frus­trate Nepal much the same way as Pak­istan has been made the tar­get by some naughty brains in the South Asian re­gion. Joke and satires of var­i­ous sorts are in place in Nepal in order to frus­trate Nepal PM Oli so that he de­vi­ates from his “set agen­das” that he has fixed for the coun­try since the time of the Nepal be­ing hit by the quake of 2015 which in­stantly fol­lowed the mer­ci­lessly im­posed In­dian Eco­nomic block­ade, in order to lessen the In­dian de­pen­dency of Nepal. Though Oli has In­dia tilt but yet he has vowed to bring in Chi­nese investment in Nepal in var­i­ous sec­tors. A sovereign coun­try should be al­lowed to go in search for a mis­sion that were in its na­tional in­ter­ests. Per­haps PM Oli con­sid­ers that China could be one such coun­try that can be of sub­stan­tial sup­port to Nepal if ap­proached. Thanks that China too is will­ing. An­a­lysts in Nepal can eas­ily draw mean­ing as to why bids were afoot in some quar­ters to ex­as­per­ate China and Nepal so that the two sovereign na­tions re­main bogged down in tri­fling is­sues and the prime tar­get of de­vel­op­ment in both the coun­tries takes a back seat more so in Nepal and the pur­pose of the spon­sored de­trac­tors come to true. This is not to say that China is a sacro­sanct part­ner of Nepal. She too has busi­ness and se­cu­rity in­ter­ests in Nepal. How­ever, the fact is also that China shall fi­nan­cially help Nepal but Nepal shall have to pay the money back in a man­ner as de­sired by the re­ceiv­ing end as China knows Nepal eco­nomic stamina. The Lip­ulek blun­der though re­mains yet to be cor­rected by China, to re­call.

The fact is also that Nepal needs China as much as China needs Nepal speak­ing on strate­gic terms to which China un­der­stands bet­ter. It is this fact that China, if in­tel­li­gent enough, must lis­ten to Nepali plea that PM OLi shall for­ward to the pe­rusal of the host coun­try at time of high level talks in China dur­ing his so­journ there. China must not for­get that Nepal this time is equipped with a strong gov­ern­ment formed ever and that too a diehard com­mu­nist dom­i­nated ones (are they?) that en­joy two thirds ma­jor­ity in­side the do­mes­tic par­lia­ment. More so given the strained re­la­tions with In­dia even as of to­day, China would do well in help­ing Nepal in some core ar­eas as PM Oli shall be ad­vanc­ing dur­ing the high level talks. A word to the wise should be enough. Help­ing Nepal at this time will yield im­mense ben­e­fits to China for the pol­i­tics that stands to­day in our vicin­ity. China knows Nepal's strate­gic im­por­tance. That China and In­dia are not in good terms even after the just con­cluded Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion has come to the fore. If it is so, and it is so, then Modi has def­i­nitely lost his po­lit­i­cal cre­den­tials not only in­side his own coun­try, but he is be­ing taken as a fraud­u­lent po­lit­i­cal per­sona in the en­tire South Asian re­gion, more so in Nepal. He is taken as a po­lit­i­cal thug who has re­peat­edly duped Nepal. In­dia was the only coun­try in the eight-na­tion Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion on June 10 which re­fused to en­dorse China's Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive for which Bei­jing has signed pacts with nearly 80 coun­tries and in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions. The UK and France too have ex­hib­ited their in­ter­ests in the Chi­nese scheme. Other coun­tries too have ex­pressed their in­ter­ests. A dec­la­ra­tion is­sued at the end of the two-day sum­mit of the SCO said Rus­sia, Pak­istan, Kaza­khstan, Uzbek­istan, Kyr­gyzs­tan and Ta­jik­istan have “reaf­firm­ing their sup­port for the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive (BRI)” of China. “The Mem­ber States ex­press ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the joint ef­forts taken to­wards its im­ple­men­ta­tion, in­clud­ing ef­forts to co­or­di­nate the de­vel­op­ment of the Eurasian Eco­nomic Union and the BRI and call for us­ing the po­ten­tial of the re­gional coun­tries, in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions and mul­ti­lat­eral as­so­ci­a­tions to cre­ate a broad, open, mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial and equal part­ner­ship in the SCO space,” it said. In his ad­dress at the Sum­mit, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, in an oblique ref­er­ence to the BRI, said any mega con­nec­tiv­ity project must re­spect sovereignty and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity and as­sured In­dia's full sup­port to ini­tia­tives which en­sures in­clu­siv­ity. This per­haps best ex­plains that China and In­dia have yet to rec­on­cile with each other. Chi­nese an­noy­ance be­gins thus right from Modi's neg­a­tive state­ment made at the SCO meet. This also in­di­cates that should the dif­fer­ences in­crease, China may teach a grand les­son to In­dia of the sort of 1962. Dok­lam was a mere re­hearsal in­deed. Arunachal Pradesh is yet another flash­point. What a fun that it would be if China pounces upon In­dia once again? Love to watch the mini World Cup that it would be in all prob­a­bil­ity. The points that PM Modi has raised at the SCO meet has first to be hon­ored by In­dia it­self. Has it hon­ored Nepal's sovereignty? Has not this coun­try un­der­mined Nepali in­tegrity? Thus no right In­dia pos­sesses to de­mand the same re­spect and honor from other to which she never has com­plied with. Let In­dia play foot­ball alone with baby Bhutan. The Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion and China have now ce­mented their ties for long time to come. Pres­i­dent Trump is at the mo­ment busy in so­lid­i­fy­ing his per­sonal ties with NK leader Kim Jong-Un and so Trump has no time to lis­ten to Modi's griev­ances. An­a­lyz­ing all these, what could be fairly said that China-Rus­sia friend­ship shall dom­i­nate the po­lit­i­cal scene for long? The Cen­tral Asian Republics have ex­pressed their de­sire to join the CPEC which means Pak­istan along with the coun­tries en­gaged in the CPEC scheme shall ben­e­fit im­mensely. Re­ports say that at the side­lines of the SCO meet held in China very freshly, PM Modi was as­sured by the Chi­nese Pres­i­dent that he will visit In­dia for an in­for­mal meet of the SCO next year and also had pro­posed for a tri­lat­eral sum­mit at the ear­li­est in be­tween China, Pak­istan and In­dia to set­tle once and for all the bound­ary is­sues be­tween the es­tranged neigh­borsIn­dia and Pak­istan. Ob­servers in Nepal claim that such a tri­lat­eral meet be­tween the three na­tions, China, In­dia and Pak­istan, was pos­si­ble at time of the next SCO meet sup­pos­edly be­ing held in In­dia next year. It may hap­pen any time if all de­sire so. “If China, Mon­go­lia and Rus­sia can sit to­gether then why not a tri­lat­eral meet in be­tween China, In­dia and Pak­istan was pos­si­ble,” say ob­servers here in Nepal sub­scrib­ing to the fresh views aired by Delhi based Chi­nese Am­bas­sador Luo Zhao­hui as quoted by ANI news agency. The idea for a tri­lat­eral sum­mit, said the Chi­nese en­voy, had come from "some In­dian friends". "Maybe not now, but in the fu­ture, that is the great idea,” he said. Mr Luo, the Chi­nese Am­bas­sador stressed on "5Cs" to help pro­mote In­dia-China ties –and those be­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion, co­op­er­a­tion, con­tacts, co­or­di­na­tion and con­trol. ''Some In­dian friends sug­gested that In­dia, China and Pak­istan may have some kind of tri­lat­eral sum­mit on the side­lines of SCO. So, if China, Rus­sia and Mon­go­lia can have a tri­lat­eral sum­mit at the SCO meet, then why not In­dia, China and Pak­istan?'' the Chi­nese en­voy opined. The en­voy ap­pears to have made this pro­posal to ease the friendly ten­sions ex­ist­ing along the borders. In­dia and Pak­istan be­came full mem­bers of SCO last year and were rep­re­sented by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and Pak­istani Pres­i­dent Mam­noon Hus­sain, re­spec­tively, at the re­cent sum­mit held in Qing­dao this month. Later, re­spond­ing to ques­tions, the Chi­nese en­voy said this Mon­day, “This is a pro­posal sug­gested by some In­dian friends and I think it is a very good and con­struc­tive idea. Maybe not now, but in the fu­ture, it will be a step in the right di­rec­tion to do some­thing to re­al­ize this idea.” Mean­while, the In­dian spokesper­son Raveesh Ku­mar, how­ever, said: “We have seen re­ports on com­ments made by the Chi­nese Am­bas­sador in this mat­ter. We have not re­ceived any such sug­ges­tion from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment. We con­sider the state­ment as the per­sonal opin­ion of the am­bas­sador. Mat­ters re­lated to In­dia-Pak­istan re­la­tions are purely bi­lat­eral in na­ture and have no scope for in­volve­ment of any third coun­try. "This am­ply hints that In­dia and China re­la­tions have touched a new low after the SCO meet wherein PM Modi sum­mar­ily re­jected the BRI ini­tia­tive to be en­dorsed by In­dia. Nat­u­rally the present Chi­nese an­noy­ance is the net re­sult of In­dian big no to the China's BRI at time of the SCO meet held in Qingdo, China. A re­tired Delhi univer­sity Pro­fes­sor V.C Bhutani be­lieves the Chi­nese as­cen­dance in the present day world order that China was here to stay for long and that In­dia would do well in demon­strat­ing more so­phis­ti­cated ap­proach in its deal­ing with the su­per power as China is taken these days. Pro­fes­sor Bhutani is cor­rect in as­sess­ing China's en­hanced prow­ess gained in the last decade to which In­dia per­haps can match only in dreams. For In­dian health, dream­ing could be an in­stant en­ergy giver yet. The re­tired pro­fes­sor fur­ther alarms the In­dian es­tab­lish­ment that even after one year of the Dok­lam in­ci­dent, China con­tin­ues with its road build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the dis­puted area of the pre­vi­ous year. What does it sig­nal is this send­ing out to In­dia and other coun­tries across the globe? Ques­tions the re­tired In­dian pro­fes­sor. The In­dian ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­istry has re­sponded to the tri­lat­eral sum­mit pro­posal as pushed by the Chi­nese en­voy through a state­ment is­sued hours later, say­ing that In­dia had “not re­ceived any such sug­ges­tion from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment”. It added, “We con­sider the state­ment as the per­sonal opin­ion of the am­bas­sador. Mat­ters re­lated to In­dia-Pak­istan re­la­tions are purely bi­lat­eral in na­ture and have no scope for in­volve­ment of any third coun­try.” This means that In­dian ar­ro­gance con­tin­ues and China per­haps is think­ing to teach yet another les­son to the In­dian es­tab­lish­ment should the In­dian ego­tism take a new high. In a more pleas­ing de­vel­op­ment in the SA land­scape, the Pak­istani Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee Zubair Mah­mood Hayat has al­ready landed in Nepal for a five day visit. To re­call, for­mer Pak Prime Min­is­ter came to Nepal to con­grat­u­late Nepal's new PM Oli. Nepal's Army Chief went to Pak­istan and here is the Pak mil­i­tary man in Kath­mandu. And very soon Nepal Army Chief is to visit China. And in turn the Chi­nese Army Chief may re­cip­ro­cate the visit. The chances re­main. In be­tween these times, Pak­istan will have its newly elected Prime Min­is­ter to guide the coun­try and take the CPEC pro­jects to newer heights. Isn't it like as if China, Pak­istan and Nepal have come to­gether by fluke of a chance and vowed to corner In­dia? Or a de­lib­er­ate one to push In­dia to the wall? In­ten­tion may not be that but the re­verse is true to a greater ex­tent. Much to the dis­com­fort of the en­tire In­dian es­tab­lish­ment, Nepal Prime Min­is­ter KP Sharma Oli will sign agree­ments on con­nec­tiv­ity, bring­ing the Chi­nese rail­way net­work to Kath­mandu, cross-bor­der power trans­mis­sion lines, tourism, open­ing more bor­der points with China. Back in Pak­istan, the CPEC is con­sid­ered a game changer by the Pak­istani elite, who ex­pect it to su­per­charge the coun­try's scle­rotic econ­omy and trans­form it into a re­gional eco­nomic hub. China is widely con­sid­ered to be a be­nign and re­li­able part­ner, in great con­trast to the “un­re­li­able” some and there is much talk of win­win co­op­er­a­tion and of China's purely eco­nomic strat­egy. The CPEC cer­tainly in­volves some large amounts. It would in­volve en­ergy and in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects val­ued at some $62 bil­lion span­ning the length of Pak­istan. The jewel in the CPEC crown is Gwadar, a new port city be­ing built in the Balochis­tan desert, which is be­ing touted as a new Dubai. This will be the south­ern ter­mi­nus of the eco­nomic cor­ri­dor run­ning from Xin­jiang to the In­dian Ocean. Dreams of trans­form­ing Gwadar from a dusty fish­ing vil­lage into a ma­jor city seem to have no bounds. The sheer scale of the project is in­di­cated by the an­nounce­ment by one Chi­nese com­pany of ex­tra­or­di­nary plans to build hous­ing for some 500,000 Chi­nese work­ers in Gwadar by 2022. In fact it is these lofty gains that both China and Pak­istan shall gain from the CPEC upon com­ple­tion, men­tally dis­turbs In­dia. So be it. Now for the Road: The China Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) pro­vides a rare op­por­tu­nity for the con­ver­gence of global civ­i­liza­tions with po­ten­tial to trans­form lives of bil­lions of peo­ple if the op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered by this project are availed, speak­ers said at a con­fer­ence here, so writes Mur­taza Ali Shah, June 10, 2018. The Royal United Ser­vices In­sti­tute (RUSI) and the Lon­don In­sti­tute of South Asia (LISAUK) or­ga­nized a joint con­fer­ence which was ad­dressed by mem­bers of think-tanks and pro­fes­sion­als who are linked with the project. Pak­istan's High Com­mis­sioner to the UK Syed Ibne Ab­bas was present at the con­fer­ence and in­vited Bri­tain to be­come a part­ner in the project, Mr. Shah fur­ther adds. Speak­ers looked at var­i­ous as­pects of the project and as­sessed the op­por­tu­ni­ties and risks re­lated to the project that's seen glob­ally as a game changer in the re­gion. They said that re­gional coun­tries, neigh­bors, Europe and Amer­ica can as­so­ciate with the project and be­come part of the phe­nom­e­non that's un­fold­ing in the re­gion as a re­sult of the CPEC de­vel­op­ment, he con­tin­ues. Saeed Is­mat, LIS UK's Di­rec­tor, said that vi­sion of CPEC is huge and it's set to trans­form Pak­istan and many other coun­tries which have joined it. He said CPEC of­fers op­por­tu­ni­ties for the con­ver­gence of civ­i­liza­tion. He said there's Rus­sia is one side, Hindu civ­i­liza­tion is there, Pak­istani and Mus­lim civ­i­liza­tion is there, there is China, Arab and Euro­pean civ­i­liza­tion nearby the project. “It's a great con­ver­gence point. This can cre­ate cul­tural and po­lit­i­cal har­mony,” he said. Thanks China and Pak­istan that there is an op­por­tu­nity for vary­ing civil­i­sa­tions shall meet if ev­ery­thing goes well with the CPEC. In­dia is the loser ul­ti­mately or else China knows as how to tame the er­ratic In­dian es­tab­lish­ment. That's all.

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