April 11, 2005

Inside the Velvet Glove

The Telegraph, 11.04.2005

Swapan Dasgupta provides the reality check so needed in the midst of all the optimism preceding the visit of the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao (“Of Actual Control”, April 8). As Dasgupta points out, bilateral relations may be at an all-time high, but it is the cadre in Beijing and not in New Delhi who set the pace. Even as we rush to sign a free-trade agreement with China, we need to consider the effect of Chinese dumping on Indian industry. China’s recent engagement of India should be seen in the context of its strengthening of ties with Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. There is a real possibility that China wants to tie down India between a range of banana republics and rogue states, while it reaches for global glory. Panchsheel gave us 1962, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 2003 China visit cost us Tibet. Will Jiabao lose us our economic sovereignty, Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh in 2005?

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Nitin

    While I agree with much of the 'beware of China' thesis, it is equally important not to be alarmist.

    Greater trade relations between India and China work to mutual advantage. Of course, China being the stronger partner, there are justified fears of being out-competed by China. The way to address those fears is for India to make itself more competitive —- through liberalisation, government investment in infrastructure, and by courting foreign investors. Indeed, I fear that India's loony Left pose a much greater threat than their not so loony counterparts in Beijing.

    On the geostrategic chessboard, India would do well to make appropriate counter-moves in response to (or even pre-empting) China. That means greater engagement of maritime South East Asia; greater investment in blue-water navy and submarine capabilities.

    As for territorial concessions; apart from die-hard analysts and strategic commetators (like us?) few people care. A settlement of sorts is desirable, but this need not mean appeasement. Given the 'vested interests in prosperity', these will be less an emotive issue, and more a bureaucratic exercise in redrawing borders. Settlement will only mean that status quo will be regularised.

    12 Apr 2005, 16:38

  2. I disagree with the statement that 'few people care'. As soon as we make a territorial compromise, it would be hailed as a victory for the Middle Kingdom in Xinhua, and a national disaster in the Indian press. The importnat thing here is shelve the border dispute to the joint working group, and focus mainly on trade. Note that neither India or China have buckled even a little on the border issue, and an editorial in Xinhua recently pointed out all territories China considers as part of the People's Republic, and it included Arunachal Pradesh aka Zhangnan. India should be careful and not lose its position in Aksai Chin and north Kashmir. As far as Arunachal is concerned, I agree with Wen Jiabao that it should be solved keeping 'ground realities in mind'. For all practical purposes, Arunachal is a state of the Indian Union. Period.

    13 Apr 2005, 09:48

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