Dragon starts blinkingOctober 25th, 2009
Well! Well! Well!!! After all the talk of BREAKING INDIA INTO PIECES, hundreds of border ‘transgressions’, consternation on Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, separate visas to Kashmiris and a host of other provocations, Wen Jiabao now says that they want to have good relations with India. He said this when he met Manmohan Singh in Thailand on the sidelines of ASEAN summit. Damn good. Just what the doctor ordered. But why does my heart tell me not to believe him? Possibly my heart has gone crazy. After all it’s the premier of a sovereign nation saying so. Hey, wait a minute. Didn’t Hu Jintao (their President) say something similar in June when he met Manmohan Singh in Russia? And most of the provocations which I mentioned have taken place after that? Well, my heart is damn right. We cannot believe Wen Jiabao, Hu Jintao, Mao Mao, Lao Lao or even Ming Ping Chin for that matter. You can read about their BREAKING INDIA INTO PIECES theory on rediff.com here.
Well then, why did Wen say this? Actually, the reasons are many.
1. It’s politically correct for him to say so. I mean he cannot really say that China does not want to have good relations with India, even if he wants to. Can he?
2. They need the Indian market to sell their goods. That’s the most important reason. In today’s world economics is paramount. And with the Chinese exports to western countries taking a big hit the importance of still very lucrative Indian market cannot be overstated. Consider this. Out of $41.6 billion trade between the two countries their exports count for as much as $31.33 billion. That’s pretty big, if you ask me. China cannot afford to loose this market at any cost.
3. India has dug in it’s heels on various issues in last few months. Yeah, that’s a major reason for this sweet talk. It’s in the last few months after number of border violations were highlighted in our media that India decided to upgrade infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh in a big way. Not only this our military in the eastern sector is being strengthened to counter any Chinese threat. On Dalai Lama too India has made it amply clear to China that it will not restrict his movements within India. You see had India not taken a stern stance the tone of this meeting would’ve been absolutely different. It would’ve been something like- Prime Minister Wen Jiabao conveyed their apprehensions about Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh or words to that effect. Obviously our changed stance forced them to change theirs. Treat the opponent with respect- as they say in cricket.
4. On the issue of climate change, if China were to indeed take on the western powers it cannot do so without the help of India. Believe me, the issue is very important to them as well.
5. Lastly, it does make India happy which suits them perfectly. They can keep humoring us and at the same time can keep preparing for their ultimate aim- to make India submit to it’s demands or even worse, break up India into pieces. That’s exactly what they did just before 1962. History does repeat itself, after all.
But it doesn’t have to. Not if we have understood their game. And I think we have quite clearly. We have also understood the way China is trying to surround us militarily from all directions. You can read about their String of Pearls strategy on ChinaBriefing.com here. They have increased their infrastructure and military presence in Tibet to a threatening level. They have made naval bases in Myanmar and are on the road to have military presence in Bangladesh, Malacca Straits, Nepal, Sri Lanka and even Maldives with help from Pakistan. They are even sending naval ships in the region under the guise of participating in naval exercises with Pakistan as also to fight Somali pirates, which suits them just fine. With the result that Chinese navy is now poised to challenge India’s pre-eminence in Indian Ocean.
India on it’s part is just beginning to wake up to this challenge. Apart from talking to Myanmar we are also in the process of improving our ties with Nepal and Sri Lanka. We are also in the process of having a naval presence in Mauritius. Not just this our navy has also made it’s presence felt to challenge Somalian pirates in Gulf of Eden. On top of all this we are also building up our military infrastructure in the north eastern states of India. Over all we might not be as powerful as China militarily just yet but we are sure to give them a good fight should it come to that.
Do you guys know why was there never a direct war between US and erstwhile USSR? Simply because both of them were militarily evenly matched, though Americans would not agree with this. Had any one of them been assured of a complete victory over the other there would’ve been a war between them for sure. There’s a lesson for us in there. If we are able to measure up to Chinese militarily they would never oppose us directly.
On the economic front we still have to achieve a more favorable balance in terms of exports to China and Chinese investment in India. Currently China is using us as a dumping ground for it’s cheap goods. Though Wen Jiabao has promised to work towards this aspect India has to ensure that Chinese start putting more money into India. Once this reaches a level of more than 30-40% of our total trade it will be very difficult for them to wage a war on India. And that’s the key. We need to make them much more dependent on us for it’s own economic well being.
Suffice to say that Hindi Chini can never be bhai bhai. Not till the time China is communist and our border issues are not resolved. Unfortunately, if recent posturing is any indications I don’t really see China giving up it’s claim on Arunachal Pradesh so easily. On our part it is therefore very important to keep working on all these three fronts- strengthening our own military capabilities, improving our military cooperation with all neighboring countries and making the economic trade with China more balanced towards India. We can keep talking to them as sweetly as they do but we should never ever let our guard down. As they say- Talk softly but carry a big stick. Remember what George Fernandes said when he was the defence minister? China is our enemy number one. He was dead right.