PLEASE NOTE: FORCE no longer has an office at 110, Sector 37, Noida. All future correspondence should be sent to E-19, Ground Floor, Sector 3, Noida 201301, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Force Magazine
Guest Column - Force Magazine
Bold, But Half Moves
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China could change the dynamics in bilateral ties
Kanwal Sibal
By Kanwal Sibal

During his China visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unusual candour in speaking about the problems that hold back the India-China relationship is a refreshing change from the past discourse of emphasising only improved border management and acceptance that the border issue will take a long time to resolve and should not impede the rest of the relationship from moving forward.

Whether the airing of our concerns about the prevarication on the boundary settlement and other aspects of Chinese policies in our region will produce the results we expect is too early to say because it all depends on the value China attaches to genuinely improved ties with India on an equitable basis and how much of the Chinese ‘dream’ and the vision of an ‘Asian Century’ it judges will be contingent on this.

Narendra Modi Many statements made by the Chinese leadership on territorial issues in general, their uncompromising tenor, the reality of their policies in the western Pacific where they are confronted with stronger US power, the aggressive posture on Arunachal Pradesh even when Modi’s visit was in the offing, suggest that China believes it can pursue its destiny on the strength of its phenomenal economic rise, its developing military strength and the political cards now in its hands at the global level that it can play to its advantage. In this scenario, stable relations with India on China’s terms can be helpful in consolidating China’s regional and eventually global leadership, but the lack of it may not be viewed as a crucial element in realising China’s ambitions.

As it is, China has entrenched itself solidly in our own region. Its latest plans for Pakistan will outflank India to our west and bring the Pakistan-Afghanistan region within China’s political, economic and military orbit as never before. China is already the most powerful economic player in Central Asia and has made deep inroads into Iran. It has established connectivity across Eurasia to serve its needs. The only exposed area for China is Southeast and East Asia where its hegemony can be effectively challenged by Japan and, of course, the US, with countries like Australia and Vietnam acting as additional bulwarks.

China’s interest would be to deflect India from aligning itself with this grouping, and to that extent, keeping India engaged would be in its interest. In fact, high level engagement and affirming commonalities of interest even in areas where they do not exist help China to discourage India from making a clear choice so long as the China door seems open, besides presenting a moderate and conciliatory face of its diplomacy. More importantly, all the talk of a strategic partnership with China inhibits us from forcefully questioning its policies towards us and in our neighbourhood.

Whatever the ultimate result of this new posture of boldly and publicly confronting China with India’s expectations, China will find it increasingly difficult to keep prevaricating on our border differences and undermining our interests in our periphery while pretending that it is not. It will have to take a policy decision on how to move forward with us, taking into account attractive economic opportunities in India and the concerns that Modi has expressed. Modi, in turn, having brought these issues out in the open, will find it difficult to boost the bilateral relationship economically if the Chinese remain unresponsive to the concerns he has laid out.

Comments(0) Share
[View Full Story]

  © 2015 FORCE ARROWHEAD MEDIA PVT. LTD. All Rights Reserved. Private Area | Link Directory | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions | Sitemap