G Parthasarathy

Indo-US ties can counter Chinese hegemony

G.PARTHASARATHY | Updated on October 12, 2011 Published on September 28, 2011

bl16_ndssa_hillary_G79331I38.1+BL16_04_HILLARY.jpg

What the Soviets would have called “great Han chauvinism” is very much on display. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi nonchalantly told his Singaporean counterpart in December 2010, with an arrogance reminiscent of the rulers of the Ming dynasty: “China is a big country and other countries are just small countries and that's just a fact.”

The past two years have seen China resorting to coercion and even use of force, in enforcing its maritime boundary claims with Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. The same assertiveness, bordering on arrogance, is manifested in China's dealing with, India, which it treats as what is yet another “'small country” in its neighbourhood.

AXIS WITH PAKISTAN

Leaving aside Chinese manoeuvres to undermine India in forums like the NSG, China has actively colluded with Pakistan in blocking international efforts to get the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which masterminded the attack on our Parliament, declared as an International Terrorist Organisation, by the UN Security Council. It had acted identically in blocking efforts to get the Lashkar-e -Taiba outlawed, prior to the 26/11 outrage.

More importantly, China now acts as though the POK and the Northern Areas of Gilgit and Baltistan are an integral part of Pakistan, with only Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir, being a “disputed” territory. The “Chief Minister” of Gilgit-Baltistan, Syed Mehdi Shah, twice visited China in the recent past and was received at the highest levels. Contrast this with the entire issue of stapled visas for residents, including military officers, serving in J&K. Moreover, planned Chinese investment for infrastructure and hydro-electric projects in Gilgit Baltistan is estimated to be of the order of $10 billion, with growing suspicions that the tunnels being built are really meant for nuclear weapon and missile silos

All this, is happening when Pakistan is tearing itself apart under the weight of its internal contradictions, combined with stupidity of its military in cultivating radical Islami groups to “bleed'' India and force the Americans out of Afghanistan.

US APPREHENSIONS

These were amongst the issues considered by a high level non-official group from the Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Aspen Institute India (AII) has now come out with a detailed report on shaping the contours of a US-India partnership to deal with global challenges. While the Indian participants included former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra and former Ambassadors to the US K.S. Bajpai and Naresh Chandra, the American side included luminaries like the former Director of Intelligence, Denis Blair, Bush Administration NSA, Stephen Headley and former Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill. The CFR-AII report comes at a time when the US finds that its two Cold War Allies, China and Pakistan, are either directly challenging its global pre-eminence, or supporting terrorists killing its soldiers in Afghanistan.

The CFR-AII report notes that Pakistan's intelligence agencies “support terrorist groups that target India, Afghanistan and ISAF forces in Afghanistan”. After the Abbotabad raid which eliminated Osama bin Laden, the US is finding that General Kayani, whom it had touted for long as a “tough professional”“ is now arranging for the Haqqani Group to even attack its Embassy in Kabul. The report states: “Pakistan is showing alarming signs of systemic decline. Its economy continues to underperform peers in Asia”.

It significantly notes that the US should “condition military aid to Pakistan on concrete anti-terrorist measures by the Pakistan military against groups targeting India and the US”. The report dwells on the need for a regional framework including the US, China, Russia, Iran, the Central Asian Republics, India and Pakistan to evolve measures for stability in Afghanistan.

INDIAN OCEAN NETWORK

Predictably, the report asserts that India and the US have no intention of “confrontation with China, or to forge a coalition for China's containment”. But, the sub-text is clear. It advocates a strengthened India-US Partnership for a viable “balance of power” in Asia, covering both the Indian Ocean, which is described as “home to critical global lines of communication, with an estimated 50 per cent of the world's container products and 70 per cent of the ship borne oil and petroleum transiting through its waters,” and to the Asia Pacific-Region.

Interestingly, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, recently referred to the “'Asia-Pacific”' as the “Indo-Pacific,” quite obviously having taken note on India's growing ties with Australia, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. The report is upbeat on US-India economic ties and makes significant recommendations for enhancing cooperation in areas like space, defence production and defence R&D.

The report stresses the significant potential for cooperation in areas like infrastructure, transportation, energy and agriculture. However, no Indian interest is served in joining forums such as Nuclear Suppliers' Group, as suggested by the report, where it is considered less equal than others.

The CFR-Aspen India report carries wide-ranging recommendations which South Block should look at seriously.

(The author is a former High Commissioner to Pakistan. [email protected])

Published on September 28, 2011
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor