Economy

Modi’s China policy is on the right track, says US expert

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on January 15, 2018

John Garver, Professor at Georgia Tech University, US

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s China policy is on the right track, says John Garver, a China expert at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, the US. He invoked the 5th century Roman axiom, si vis pacem, para bellum, which means ‘if you want peace, prepare for war’, to justify India forming military deals with other countries.

Garver, an Emeritus Professor the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Tech, was in Chennai to interact with members of the think-tank Chennai Centre for China Studies. His comments came in the context of India forming military agreements with the US, and more recently with Japan, in what is seen as a move to balance China’s military might.

In China’s perspective, it wants to rise as a global superpower while being friendly and co-operative with all countries, including with those it has geo-political issues such as Japan and Taiwan, said Garver, a fluent Mandarin speaker and author of 11 China-centric books. It does not want confrontation with anyone, he said.

However, India would not want to leave its future predicated on China’s good faith, Garver said later, in a chat with Business Line. The best chance for peace is to prevent China from going the same road that Germany and Japan did before World War II.

Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe realise that the way to peace with China is to be strong. Garver summed up the philosophy behind the approach saying, “You can’t pick us one-by-one, we are going to hang together.” It is not good if any one country grows in a “vacuum of power”, he said.

He said that the US foreign policy was to create multiple strong powers in Asia to deter war. As part of that, the country wants to encourage India to grow into a strong power. “There is no secret about that,” he said. He observed that Japan was more of a pacifist whereas India imagines itself to be a power and acts like one.

‘Ganging up’

The professor observed that since China believes it wants to grow peacefully with friendship with all countries, it is irritated by India’s moves which it sees as India “ganging up” against it. He said India was very much an interventionist, trying to put spokes in China growing close with India’s neighbours such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. China doesn’t like it and sees it as India’s hegemony, he said.

Garver, who said he was on a mission to find out how the Indian public saw the rise of China and the growing co-operation between India and the US in the context of China’s rise, said that the question was whether India would kow-tow China in order not to antagonise it, or resist it.

India recently signed LEMOA, or Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement, with the US.

The agreement allows for reciprocal exchange of logistic support, supplies and services between the two countries.

N-deal with Japan

In addition, India has recently signed a nuclear deal with Japan that could pave the way of supply of nuclear fuel and technology to India. India is also to purchase 12 amphibious aircraft worth $1.6 billion from Japan.

While India says these deals are not aimed at China, China doesn’t believe so.

Published on November 16, 2016

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