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China and ‘Old Friend Modi’!
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
Chinese Foreign Minister Mr. Wang Yi during his visit to India expressed all the nice conciliatory sentiments designed to gladden the hearts of most Indians. He praised China’s ‘old friend Modi’ and hoped for a new chapter in enhanced Indo-Chinese commercial ties. Conventional wisdom persuades most Indians to reciprocate with similar sentiments and embrace China more warmly.
Unconventional wisdom dictates precisely the opposite. Observers of China should know that Beijing is arrogant and peremptory when things go well for it. Witness the bullying Chinese attitude towards Southeast Asian neighbours at this very moment. Only when China feels threatened it starts singing a very different tune. Right now China is uncertain about how India might exercise its leverage. That is why the soft approach by Beijing. That is why Prime Minister Modi should resolutely continue on New Delhi’s current path, but takes care to keep smiling while he proceeds.
Two developments cause concern for Beijing. First, there is the closer cooperation emerging between America, India and Japan in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. Beijing would like to wean India away from that alliance. Secondly, the internal unrest in Tibet and Xingjian has made Beijing vulnerable. Imagine then the consternation in Beijing after New Delhi invited the Prime Minister of the Provisional Government of Tibet, Mr. Lobsang Sangay, to Mr. Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in Delhi and was made to sit with other foreign diplomats. It was former Indian diplomat Mr. MK Bhadrakumar’s sharp eye that first pointed out his presence. Mr. Bhadrakumar rightly opined: “Modi took an unprecedented decision that trod on Chinese sensitivities, and it is difficult to believe that he blundered into it.”
Speaking to media, Mr. Wang on the eve of his visit to Delhi said: “China and India, both being victims of terrorism, share common interests and face similar challenges in counter-terrorism and enjoy broad prospects for cooperation in this area.” Not quite, Mr. Wang!
Serious terrorist activity in Xingjian emerged in recent years after Beijing aided and encouraged Islamic terrorism in Southeast Asia and South Asia. Beijing blundered by giving arms to Shiite activists in Iran from where it imported energy. That infuriated Sunni jihadists who retaliated against Chinese personnel in Pakistan. That in turn led the Musharraf regime to crack down on the Lal Mosque Clerics shielding the anti-Chinese terrorists. The rest is history.
The Pakistan Taliban increasingly turned against the Pakistan army and started to activate Uighur terrorism in Xingjian. Therefore it is facile for Mr. Wang to glibly assert that India and China are on the same page insofar as countering terrorism is concerned. For starters China should stop all military aid intended against India to the Pakistan army which has been the chief patron of terrorist outfits inside Pakistan. To puncture Mr. Wang’s remarks about cooperation between China and India to counter terrorism one has only to remind him that it was Beijing which exercised its UN veto to protect Hafiz Saeed from international sanctions recommended against him by the UN.
This is in fact the ideal time for New Delhi to insist upon Beijing to respect all the core interests of India. Beijing must stop giving arms and provide sanctuary to anti-India insurgents, Beijing must stop providing arms to Pakistan that can be used only against India, and Beijing must stop meddling in Indian efforts to create a South Asian Union.
As for enhanced trade and investment by China, this writer takes the isolationist view that apart from suffering short term dislocation, India will only gain by stopping altogether imports from China, by stopping investment from China, and by diverting trade and investment ties to America and Europe. This will boost India’s neglected manufacturing sector of industry and destabilize China which depends critically on its export earnings for keeping afloat its State Owned Enterprises, employing 60 percent of its urban population, through provision of bad loans extended by government owned banks.
During his visit Mr. Wang told media that Beijing was giving stapled visa cards to Indians from Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir as an “act of kindness” to allow them travel! He should have been reminded that Beijing gave a written undertaking in 2005 that in settling the boundary dispute neither India nor China would disturb settled populations. Despite that Beijing brazenly continues to lay claim to Arunachal Pradesh where the population is happily settled and heavily committed to India. So how will New Delhi respond to the hollow blandishments extended by Beijing? Will China’s “old friend Modi” choose conventional wisdom and reciprocate, or unconventional wisdom and keep smiling while standing firm? Bullet trains are not critical for India’s future. But safeguarding its security, protecting its legitimate sphere of influence, and its independence to act are critical if India is playing its rightful global role.
|More by : Dr. Rajinder Puri|
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