An­a­lyt­i­cal view of China-In­dia ties

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS - Dr Muham­mad Khan Email: drmk_edu@ya­hoo.com

THE Sino In­dian re­la­tion­ship has three ma­jor di­men­sions; the eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship; mainly fo­cus­ing on bi­lat­eral trade and com­merce, the po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic re­la­tion­ship and the mil­i­tary and strate­gic re­la­tion­ship. Fol­low­ing the 1962 Sino-In­dia war, though the ice break­ing took place in late 1980s, how­ever, it took the decade of 1990s in the nor­mal­iza­tion of bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship. In the field of trade and com­merce, there has been phe­nom­e­nal progress be­tween China and In­dia in last two decades.

The bi­lat­eral trade that was just $2.9 bil­lion in year 2000 has reached to $75 bil­lion in 2016, though the trend of trade ben­e­fit has been to­wards China. In­dian econ­o­mists and busi­ness com­mu­nity see lot of prospects in fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of this ris­ing bi­lat­eral trade. In­dian Pres­i­dent, Mukher­jee be­lieves that, “two na­tions needed to share devel­op­men­tal ex­pe­ri­ence.” He also be­lieves that, de­spite progress in the bi­lat­eral trade, both coun­tries still needs to ex­ploit the im­mense op­por­tu­ni­ties and po­ten­tials for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment be­tween China and In­dia.

Whereas, the bi­lat­eral trade and com­merce have in­creased the stakes for both coun­tries, there have been of trust de­fi­ciet in the po­lit­i­cal and strate­gic re­la­tion­ship be­tween two most pop­ulious Asian coun­tries. The ma­jor rea­son rea­son of this trust de­fi­ciet can be at­trib­uted to the com­pe­ti­tion, rather co­op­er­a­tion on the re­gional global is­sues. Be­sides, the pol­i­tics of global al­liance and their re­gional im­pli­ca­tions have fur­ther de­te­ri­o­rated this bi­lat­eral trust. The US con­tain­ment pol­icy of China and its strate­gic part­ner­ship with In­dia since the be­gin­ning of 21st cen­tury is a ma­jor con­trib­u­tory fac­tor in the po­lit­i­cal and strate­gic re­la­tion­ship of both Asian neigh­bours.

On the part of China, there have been con­stant ef­forts for im­prove­ments in the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship of In­dia and China. The Chi­nese pol­icy of good neigh­bours has greately con­trib­uted in this re­gard. It was fol­low­ing the same pol­icy that obliged Prime Min­is­ter Li ke­qiang to un­der­take three days vis­its of In­dia in May 2013. It was in­deed, the first for­eign tour of Premier Li, ever since he took over as the Prime Min­is­ter of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China. It is worth men­tion­ing that, ear­lier, there were loom­ing threats for a likely mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion over a mil­i­tary post in the north­ern Kash­mir (Ladakh area-IOK). Ac­cord­ing to some In­dian an­a­lysts, this dis­pute was more se­ri­ous than, the one which led to 1962, Sino-In­dia war.

How­ever, the Chi­nese vi­sion and pol­icy of good neigh­bours brought an end to the es­ca­lat­ing sit­u­a­tion. It is to be noted that, Line of Ac­tual Con­trol (LAC) in some of por­tion of Ladakh is yet not been de­mar­cated. Any Chi­nese in­tru­sion in this area could “cut the only supply route to the strate­gic In­dian Air Force base at Daulat Beg Oldi, and thereby force In­dia to dis­man­tle it.” Chi­nese side how­ever, had reser­va­tions of an In­dian out­post at Chu­mar. This In­dian strate­gic mil­i­tary out­post was in­deed, “a strate­gic look­out point that over­looked Chi­nese com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines in Ak­sai Chin.” Be­fore visit of Prime Min­is­ter Li, In­dia dis­man­tled this strate­gic mil­i­tary out­post.

As a good will ges­ture, Chi­nese Premier wrote in his ar­ti­cle that, about a prospec­tus im­prove­ment in Sino-In­dia re­la­tion­ship in the com­ing years. This ges­ture was quite vis­i­ble once prime Min­is­ter ended his three days In­dian tour. Upon com­ple­tion of his visit, Prime Min­is­ter Li said that, his In­dian visit was suc­cess­ful and he “felt at home.” Later Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping vis­ited In­dia in 2014 and both coun­tries signed 12 agree­ments. China pledged to make in­vest­ment of $20bn in In­dia’s in­fras­truc­ture de­vel­op­ment I next five years. These ar­eas in­clude; help­ing In­dia’s age­ing rail­way sys­tem to an up-to-date state, set­ting up of in­dus­trial parks and pro­vide ex­ces­sive In­dian ex­cess to Chi­nese mar­kets. In­dian prime Min­is­ter also re­cip­ro­cated the visit in May 2015.

Un­for­tu­nately, de­spite a good will at Bei­jing, Delhi be­haves oth­er­wise and adopts a pol­icy of an­tag­o­nism. On the re­gional and global is­sues, In­dia sees China as ri­val on all ac­counts. May be it is po­lit­i­cal mat­ters, the diplo­matic is­sues or the strate­gic prob­lems, New Delhi seems in com­pe­ti­tion with Bei­jing.

A book en­ti­tled “Grand Strat­egy for In­dia: 2020 and Be­yond, was pub­lished by ‘In­sti­tute for De­fence Stud­ies & Analy­ses (IDSA) New DelhI’ in 2012. The book was edited by Kr­ish­nappa Venkat­shamy and Princy Ge­orge. With re­spect to In­dian se­cu­rity, the book out­lines that, “In­dia’s se­cu­rity in next decades will also de­pend on how the broader re­gional sit­u­a­tion evolves. Much of the world is wary of China’s rise. In­dia, in par­tic­u­lar, is con­cerned about China’s con­tin­u­ing sup­port to Pak­istan and its grow­ing foot­print in re­gions that are of strate­gic in­ter­est to In­dia.” The book em­pha­sizes the In­dian se­cu­rity plan­ners to strengthen the de­fence ca­pa­bil­i­ties in or­der to counter the im­pend­ing chal­lenges, fac­ing the In­dian state: in­ter­nally in the form of in­sur­gen­cies in its north and north­east­ern states and re­gion­ally from China and Pak­istan. The essence of the book is that, In­dia has to act as global power. While In­dian strate­gists are sweat­ing for greater In­dian role in the in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics, the world biggest democ­racy has one of the worst poverty at home, suf­fer­ing from poor gov­er­nance with in­built cor­rup­tion and nas­ti­est record of hu­man rights.

May it be the re­cent is­sue of NSG mem­ber­ship or In­dian race for the UNSC mem­ber­ship; it has to go via Bei­jing. US would con­tinue us­ing In­dia for its strate­gic ob­jec­tives, but should In­dia ac­cept for it­self a role as a tool of US and spoil its re­la­tion­ship with neigh­bours, as it is do­ing cur­rently. The In­dian strate­gists pro­pose for In­dia a big­ger role at the strate­gic level in the con­tem­po­rary strate­gic en­vi­ron­ment. Is In­dia re­ally ready to as­sume such a role for it­self. In­dia needs to im­prove its re­la­tions with neigh­bours, es­pe­cially Pak­istan by re­solv­ing the out­stand­ing is­sues, be­fore, it look for a ma­jor role out­side the re­gion. — The writer is In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions an­a­lyst based in Islamabad.

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