B S Raghavan

Fitting China in India's security plan

B. S. Raghavan | Updated on April 01, 2011

India-China relations have invariably taken the form of either hair-raising scare-mongering or ideological foaming at the mouth. The examples immediately coming to mind are a paper titled “China as a main threat to India's security” posted on the Web site of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network and an article in the Indian Defence Review, “Nervous China may attack India by 2012”.

For some, the very mention of the country's name instantly excites hostility and hatred simply because of its Communist ideological moorings and its non-democratic, one-party regime. This is regardless of China being no longer a classical communist state. Actually, its “market socialism” has many features of capitalism.

For some others, its very size and military power, coupled with its economic growth and increasing influence over the countries of South and South-East Asia and Africa, makes it a Goliath requiring to be put down at all costs.

A further element of uneasiness is added by all signs pointing to its soon becoming the world's No.1 superpower.

As for India, it needs to shed the psychosis engendered by the trauma of the surprise Chinese attack of 1962. The ending of the present state of virtual standoff will be possible only if there is a constructive engagement with China shorn of emotional ebullience reminiscent of Hindi Chini bhai bhai and built on solid foundations of complementarities and convergence of interests. While doing so, it should not wittingly or otherwise become a handmaiden for some other country's global designs.

For instance, the US has its own axes to grind vis-à-vis China: In its eyes, China's astronomical dollar holdings, now close to $ 3 trillion, and estimated to touch $4 trillion in the next 10 years unless curbed, constitute the spectre of “a financial balance of terror”.

India should not let the objectives it needs to pursue be clouded by those of the US or any other country or group of countries.

True destiny

It must be self-evident, except to the one who is purblind or perverse, that India must go all out to effect improvement in India-China relations. This will enable it to drastically prune Defence expenditure in tune with the altered security setting.

It will be able to focus on national goals that are pressing and vital: Provision of basic necessities such as drinking water and sanitation; food, livelihood and energy security; universal education and healthcare; honest and efficient governance.

Indeed, these make for a comprehensive security framework whose absence or inadequacies have led, as we have seen in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, to mass upheavals sweeping away established governments.

Any amount of effort is worthwhile to establish a harmonious relationship between India and China based on mutual trust and respect and commitment to peace. It may even help them make a faster pitch for strengthening their economic mettle in a spirit of healthy competition. They can then forge partnerships to channel their resources and skills to projects for the full-scale development of the countries of Asia and Africa.

Both countries can find their true destiny by becoming sheet anchors of progress and stability in the whole of East and South Asia and kingpins of a new world order.

End the impasse

Idealistic? No! Seeming miracles have happened. Japan rose from the ashes after the War and became an economic and technological colossus. China and the US, at each other's throats for 25 years, are friends. Apartheid in South Africa and the perils of the Cold War are a fading memory.

India and China too must cease to be at loggerheads over the border. Innumerable rounds of talks between officials on both sides have taken the dispute no nearer to solution. It also reflects poorly on the sincerity of either side.

Now, the heads of governments of India and China should muster the required will to end the impasse; yes, it will involve some give-and-take and overcoming opposition. But that is what leadership is all about.

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Published on March 30, 2011
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