Pow­er­ing In­dia-China Re­la­tions

Post the In­dian elec­tions in In­dia, Wei Wei, Chi­nese Am­bas­sador at New Delhi, wrote an Op-ed in the Eco­nomic Times ti­tled ‘In­dia’s Eco­nomic Take­off’ out­lin­ing China’s hopes for eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and com­mon de­vel­op­ment


Post the In­dian elec­tions in In­dia, Wei Wei, Chi­nese Am­bas­sador at New Delhi, wrote an Op-ed in the Eco­nomic-Times ti­tled ‘In­dia’s Eco­nomic Take­off’ out­lin­ing China’s hopes for eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and com­mon de­vel­op­ment.

Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch

“He (Mr Modi) rec­og­nizes that China has a sort of qual­ity that at­tracts and re­pels. It at­tracts in terms of its per­for­mance and it shows in a sense a mir­ror im­age to In­dia of what it could be if ev­ery­thing went right in terms of eco­nomic per­for­mance.” —Ash­ley Tel­lis of Carnegie Foun­da­tion

DE­CLAS­SI­FIED AMER­I­CAN DOC­U­MENT OF 1962 vin­tage dis­close of­fi­cial not­ing stat­ing “it is in US in­ter­ests to en­sure In­dia and China should never join hands”. That pow­er­ing In­dia-China re­la­tions can boost the Asian century to the next level needs no elab­o­ra­tion. Yet, global power play at geopo­lit­i­cal level must be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion. That such global power play re­tards growth of na­tions and brings im­mit­i­ga­ble mis­ery upon mankind is well known. Take the ex­am­ple of su­per­power USA. John Pil­ger in his ar­ti­cle ‘In Ukraine, the US is Drag­ging Us To­wards War with Rus­sia’, dated May 14, 2014, pub­lished in The News writes, “Ev­ery year the Amer­i­can his­to­rian Wil­liam Blum pub­lishes his ‘up­dated sum­mary of the record of US for­eign pol­icy’ which shows that, since 1945, the US has tried to over­throw more than 50 gov­ern­ments, many of them demo­crat­i­cally elected; grossly in­ter­fered in elec­tions in 30 coun­tries; bombed the civil­ian pop­u­la­tions of 30 coun­tries; used chemical and bi­o­log­i­cal weapons; and at­tempted to as­sas­si­nate for­eign lead­ers”. He adds, “In many cases Bri­tain has been a col­lab­o­ra­tor”. Of course there are other global pow­ers that too are in­dulging in sim­i­lar acts at vary­ing scales. Syria is the lat­est case of global power play with hor­rific mis­ery un­leashed on the hap­less pop­u­la­tion by both the op­pos­ing sides. Prior to the re­cent elec­tions in In­dia, In­dian schol­ars vis­it­ing think tanks in US and UK were in­vari­ably asked the first ques­tion whether Naren­dra Modi, if elected Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia, would get closer to China. Post the stu­pen­dous win of Modi that gave him ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity, Ash­ley Tel­lis of Carnegie Foun­da­tion has been more cau­tious in stat­ing, “He (Mr Modi) rec­og­nizes that China has a sort of qual­ity that at­tracts and re­pels. It at­tracts in terms of its per­for­mance and it shows in a sense a mir­ror im­age to In­dia of what it could be if ev­ery­thing went right in terms of eco­nomic per­for­mance.”

In Oc­to­ber 2013, the joint In­dia-China state­ment out­lined the vi­sion for de­vel­op­ing an ‘In­dia-China Strate­gic and Co­op­er­a­tive Part­ner­ship for Peace and Pros­per­ity’, main fea­tures of the vi­sion be­ing: one, ex­plor­ing prospects of a bi­lat­eral re­gional trade ar­range­ment (RTA), re­view ne­go­ti­a­tions on the re­gional com­pre­hen­sive eco­nomic part­ner­ship (RCEP) and ex­pe­dite frame­work agree­ment for es­tab­lish­ing in­dus­trial zones to pro­vide plat­forms of clus­ter type de­vel­op­ment for en­ter­prises of both coun­tries; three, re­view progress of the In­dia-China Study Group on the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, In­dia and Myan­mar) Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor and fur­ther dis­cus­sions on con­cepts and align­ment of the eco­nomic cor­ri­dor; four, Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tives ex­plor­ing frame­work of set­tle­ment of the In­dia-China boundary ques­tion to con­tinue ef­forts in that di­rec­tion; five, recog­ni­tion of peace and tran­quil­lity on the In­dia-China bor­der as an im­por­tant guar­an­tor for the de­vel­op­ment and con­tin­ued growth of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions – the Bor­der De­fence Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment (BDCA) strength­en­ing main­te­nance of sta­bil­ity on the bor­der; six, de­fence ex­changes and mil­i­tary ex­er­cises be­ing im­por­tant in build­ing greater trust and con­fi­dence to con­tinue as agreed to mu­tu­ally; seven, ap­pre­ci­a­tion of sign­ing MoU on Strength­en­ing Co­op­er­a­tion on Trans-bor­der Rivers, plus agree­ment to ex­change flood-sea­son hy­dro­log­i­cal data and emer­gency man­age­ment, etc; eight, fa­cil­i­tat­ing greater people-to-people con­tacts and ex­changes, sup­ported by sis­ter-city re­la­tion­ships that have been con­cluded ini­tially on a pi­lot ba­sis; nine, in ad­di­tion to mark­ing 2014 as a Year of Friendly Ex­changes, In­dia and China to dis­cuss with Myan­mar com­mem­o­ra­tion of 60th an­niver­sary of the Five Prin­ci­ples of Peace­ful Co­ex­is­tence (Panchsheel); ten, co­or­di­na­tion and co­op­er­a­tion in mul­ti­lat­eral fo­rums in­clud­ing Rus­sia-In­di­aChina, BRICS, and G-20 to jointly tackle global is­sues such as cli­mate change, in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism, food and en­ergy se­cu­rity, and to es­tab­lish a fair and eq­ui­table in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sys­tem.

Post the In­dian elec­tions in In­dia, Wei Wei, Chi­nese Am­bas­sador at New Delhi, wrote an Op-ed in the Eco­nomic Times ti­tled ‘In­dia’s Eco­nomic Take­off ’ out­lin­ing China’s hopes for eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and com­mon de­vel­op­ment. More specif­i­cally, he wrote about: one, in­creased Chi­nese in­vest­ments in man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor with ‘Made in China’ global tag and China pos­sess­ing plenty re­sources and ex­pe­ri­ence; two, en­cour­age Chi­nese in­vestors de­velop Chi­nese-style in­dus­trial parks in In­dia like China has done in ASEAN coun­tries like Cam­bo­dia, In­done­sia and Viet­nam, and since such in­dus­trial parks help in­crease trade bal­ance; three, part­ner­ship in de­vel­op­ing in­fra­struc­ture es­pe­cially ef­fi­cient trans­porta­tion be­tween in­land cities and ports with rail­way trans­porta­tion (in­crease speed and load­ing ca­pac­ity and upgra­da­tion of rail­way sta­tions) since this will im­prove ef­fi­ciency of freight trans­porta­tion, eas­ing en­ergy short­age in In­dia, ac­cel­er­ate pro­duc­tion and im­prove com­pet­i­tive­ness of In­dian prod­ucts; four, com­bin­ing China’s “Open to the West” with In­dia’s “Look East Pol­icy” to achieve bet­ter con­nec­tiv­ity with a Sino-In­dian rail­way apart from the BCIM eco­nomic cor­ri­dor and since China has com­menced con­struct­ing the Trans-Asian High-Speed Rail­way con­nect­ing south­west­ern China to East Asian coun­tries.

A num­ber of del­e­ga­tions have been ex­changed be­tween In­dia and China over the past three years un­der aegis of the In­dia China Eco­nomic and Cul­tural Coun­cil. These were aimed at learn­ing and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing how to boost liveli­hood op­por­tu­ni­ties with in­creased in­come in ru­ral pop­u­la­tion (by means of de­velop ru­ral sup­port in­fra­struc­ture, mar­ket­ing sys­tems, govern­ment pol­icy ini­tia­tives and var­i­ous other in­ter­ven­tions. In­ter­ac­tion meet­ings be­tween busi­ness del­e­ga­tions were or­gan­ised to fur­ther strengthen the un­der­stand­ing of the ser­vice out­sourc­ing in­dus­try and learn to un­der­stand in­ter­na­tional ser­vice out­sourc­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in or­der to pro­mote the ser­vice out­sourc­ing en­ter­prise to de­velop the out­sourc­ing mar­ket. A high level del­e­ga­tion from China Elec­tron­ics Cor­po­ra­tion too vis­ited In­dia. Study tours from In­dia have vis­ited both China and Hong Kong. Sev­eral such trade and in­vest­ment del­e­ga­tions from var­i­ous in­dus­try ver­ti­cals and In­dian states to China in com­ing months have been planned. A 60-mem­ber In­dian ser­vices sec­tor del­e­ga­tion took part in the Third Chin In­ter­na­tional Fair for Trade in Ser­vices (CIFTIS) in last week May 2014, show­cas­ing its progress in IT and ser­vices sec­tor. This was one of the largest ser­vices sec­tor del­e­ga­tion to visit China in re­cent years rep­re­sented by ver­ti­cals of health care, me­dia, en­ter­tain­ment, IT and tourism, all be­ing pri­or­ity sec­tors for co­op­er­a­tion iden­ti­fied by the in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal Joint Work­ing Group on Trade in Ser­vices by Com­merce Min­istries of both sides. Ser­vices sec­tor is one of the key ar­eas that In­dia is press­ing China to open up its mar­kets, spe­cially IT prod­ucts, to ad­dress the trade deficit stretch­ing to $35 bil­lion in China’s favour. China is spon­sor­ing a visit by a group of In­dian jour­nal­ists to China from June 29 to July 5, 2014 which be­sides vis­it­ing Bei­jing and Shang­hai will also in­ter­act with Chi­nese Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs, De­fence Min­istry, China in­sti­tu­tion of in­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, All-China Jour­nal­ists As­so­ci­a­tion, China Daily and visit some of mil­i­tary camps.

On the de­fence co­op­er­a­tion front, there has been progress with the BDCA op­er­a­tionalised, hot­lines be­tween the DGMOs agreed upon, and cre­ation of additional bor­der per­son­nel meet­ing point (BPM) at Kibithu (Arunachal), Da­mai and Lip­ulekh Pass (Ut­tarak­hand)-Qiang and Chushul in Ladakh; Nathu La (Sikkim) and Bum La (Arunachal). Hold­ing small pla­toon-level tac­ti­cal ex­er­cises be­tween troops along the LAC were also dis­cussed. China is par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Fourth In­dia-China Joint Train­ing Ex­er­cise (JTE) sched­uled in In­dia dur­ing Novem­ber 2014. While the 1962 Sino-In­dian War should cer­tainly be buried, there are very many more in­ci­dents, in­cur­sions and in­tru­sions that have been at­tempted by the Chi­nese side in­clud­ing in the last two years. The CCP ex­er­cises tight con­trol down to the low­est level, so these in­ci­dents are not some ad­ven­tur­ous pa­trols at lo­cal lev­els but ob­vi­ously part of an over­all strat­egy con­trolled from the very top. CBMs are not built overnight. These re­quire time but set­backs or un­wanted aber­ra­tions can

dis­lodge progress and keep trust at low level de­spite re­sump­tion in knee jerk fash­ion. This has oc­curred time and again from the Chi­nese side, of which there are many ex­am­ples. The ‘In­dia-China Strate­gic and Co­op­er­a­tive Part­ner­ship for Peace and Pros­per­ity’ is stated to fol­low the Panchsheel, dis­play­ing mu­tual re­spect and sen­si­tiv­ity to each other’s con­cerns and as­pi­ra­tions. But Panchsheel is of the Nehru-Zhou era of Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai and whether its ap­pli­ca­tion now in the ‘In­dia-China Strate­gic and Co­op­er­a­tive Part­ner­ship for Peace and Pros­per­ity’ will con­tinue to re­main mere eu­phemism as ear­lier only time will tell.

In March this year, Qin Gang, China’s For­eign Min­istry spokesman, said, “The sig­nal we have sent to our friendly neigh­bour In­dia is peace and win-win co­op­er­a­tion.” Dur­ing the same pe­riod, an ed­i­to­rial in China Daily also said, “As long as we do not in­ter­fere in oth­ers’ do­mes­tic af­fairs, as long as we do not covet oth­ers’ ter­ri­to­ries, as long as we com­mit our mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties to safe­guard­ing peace, as long as we can af­ford it, we have the right to spend as much as nec­es­sary.” Here, two is­sues men­tioned in the China Daily ed­i­to­rial are de­bat­able. First, is the is­sue of in­ter­fer­ing in the do­mes­tic af­fairs of other coun­tries that China de­nies. China may deny be­ing the source of weapons and equip­ment to in­sur­gents in In­dia, these be­ing avail­able in the global mar­ket, but can China deny giv­ing refuge to In­dian in­sur­gents on its soil. It is al­ready proved that the ULFA hi­er­ar­chy is based in Ruli (China). Then, China has armed the United Wa State Army (UWSA) of Myan­mar lethally and that too openly. China has been pro­vid­ing tacit sup­port to Pak­istan’s anti-In­dia ji­had. Sec­ond, is the

On the de­fence co­op­er­a­tion front, there has been progress with the Bor­der De­fence Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment op­er­a­tionalised, hot­lines be­tween the DGMOs agreed upon, and cre­ation of additional meet­ing points at the bor­der.

is­sue that China does not covet other’s ter­ri­tory? The fact re­mains that it is only in the past decade that China dug out claims by the erst­while Kuom­ing­tang (that she over­threw in 1949) and started claim­ing “Other’s Ter­ri­to­ries” as Chi­nese ter­ri­tory. China is in il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion Ak­sai Chin and Shaks­gam Val­ley and Chi­nese claims along the LAC have been ex­pand­ing over the years. Cross LAC in­cur­sions have been at­tempted even af­ter sign­ing of the BDCA last year. In Arunachal Pradesh, China claims Tawang on grounds that Ti­betans come to pray at the an­cient Tawang monastery but what about the en­claves of Min­sar (Men ser), near Lake Mansarovar (Ma pham) which are for an­nual pil­grim­age for all In­di­ans and Bhutanese en­clave of Tcon­sists of Darchen (Dar chen) Labrang etc near Mount Kailash (Gangs rin po che, Ti se) again used by Bhutanese and In­di­ans for pe­ri­odic pil­grim­age – both these en­claves be­ing un­der il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion of China? In­ci­den­tally, Mount Kailash is the abode of an In­dian God as per an­cient mythol­ogy. The ex­panded claim to en­tire Arunachal Pradesh sprung as late as 2005 is highly pre­pos­ter­ous. Com­ing to the claim of South Ti­bet, if China wants to go back in his­tory, then it can­not go back to a pe­riod it de­sires other­wise the Mon­gols and Ti­betans can start claim­ing large parts of China it­self.

The fact that Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is a de­ci­sive leader is too well known. He is pre­dicted to bring In­dia out of a decade of plung­ing econ­omy, stag­na­tion in se­cu­rity (food, health, per­sonal), de­fence pre­pared­ness, em­ploy­ment, en­ergy and en­vi­ron­ment, be­sides giv­ing a fil­lip to for­eign pol­icy and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions. The world would be watch­ing with in­ter­est the changes that would come about in the world’s largest democ­racy, to­gether with In­dia’s for­eign pol­icy and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, par­tic­u­larly In­dia-China re­la­tions and re­sul­tantly its ef­fect on the course that Asia would take. But if Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is tak­ing In­dia out of its time wrap, it will be con­tin­gent upon Pres­i­dent Xi jin­ping to do like­wise and take a call on the CCP chang­ing the old mode of seek­ing more ter­ri­tory and weigh it against the gains that can ac­crue by fo­cus­ing on the is­sues men­tioned herein. Com­mon­sense would in­di­cate that the ter­ri­to­rial mind­set de­spite the eu­pho­ria of eco­nomic might and mil­i­tary mus­cle will even­tu­ally lead to a fate like Nazi Ger­many and Nazi Ger­many was luck­ier in not hav­ing tur­moil at home like in Xin­jiang, Ti­bet and In­ner Mon­go­lia. China has been mak­ing ev­ery ef­fort to get to the warm wa­ters of the In­dian Ocean through Myan­mar and Pak­istan. In­dia is di­rectly South and ac­cess to In­dian ports should be lu­cra­tive enough com­pared to ex­pand­ing ter­ri­to­rial am­bi­tions. In­dia is a sub­con­ti­nen­tal power and will cer­tainly not sub­ju­gate its na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­est in favour of any other coun­try. Mu­tual un­der­stand­ing of the pop­u­la­tion of the two an­cient civ­i­liza­tions also needs to be worked upon. China with its to­tally state con­trolled me­dia is bet­ter poised to ed­u­cate her masses yet only 23 per cent Chi­nese have a pos­i­tive view of In­dia whereas 36 per cent In­di­ans view China pos­i­tively, ac­cord­ing to a BBC World Ser­vice Poll con­ducted in 2013.

True pow­er­ing of In­dia-China re­la­tions can hap­pen with closer co­op­er­a­tion be­tween In­dia and China, mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial to both and which has in­fi­nite scope. To­day the bi­lat­eral trade it­self to­day is lopsided, In­dia’s trade deficit vis-à-vis China hav­ing peeked to $35 bil­lion, which must be cor­rected. Dump­ing of Chi­nese goods into the In­dian mar­ket has shut down many smal­ls­cale in­dus­tries, in­creas­ing un­em­ploy­ment. How­ever, the prospects in in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion in both coun­tries are gi­gan­tic, as is the scope of Chi­nese in­vest­ments in in­fra­struc­ture in In­dia, as brought out by Am­bas­sador Wei Wei. As it stands to­day, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping is likely to make an of­fi­cial visit to In­dia later this year. That would be a golden op­por­tu­nity to kick start a new phase of strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion, dis­card­ing pre­vi­ous prac­tice of ‘car­rot and stick’ co­er­cive diplo­macy and mil­i­tary mus­cle flex­ing. This would ben­e­fit both coun­tries im­mensely, ush­er­ing a new chap­ter in Asia’s his­tory.

Deputy Chief of Gen­eral Staff (Op­er­a­tions), PLA China, Lt. Gen­eral Qi Jian­guo meet­ing the Chief of Army Staff, Gen­eral Bikram Singh in New Delhi

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