Xi's visit exposes chinks in India's China policy..
| China made it evident that neither the swing-ride at Ahmedabad nor the red carpet at New Delhi worked, by timing its muscle-flexing in Ladakh to coincide with Xi's visit,' says B S Raghavan.
It is imprudent to imagine that China, or any country for that matter, can be won over by effusive or exuberant overtures or by the grandeur of the reception during State/official visits of heads of States/governments.
Countries are, will be, and should be, hard as nails when it comes to protecting what they regard as their own national interests. This maxim most of all applies to China which is self-willed and whose successes in political consolidation, social engineering and economic regeneration have colored its policies and stances with self-importance and self-righteousness.
None among world leaders went as far as Jawaharlal Nehru did to prop up China as an emerging great power: He went all out at Bandung to build up Zhou en Lai; he handed over Tibet to China on a platter; he extolled the two countries as bhai-bhai; he looked the other way when China was gobbling up territory under the suzerainty and control of India; he kept canvassing for China's admission to the United Nations even after it inflicted the humiliation of 1962.
In the final reckoning did any of these work? No. Similarly, nothing of all that was laid out for Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to India will work; indeed, China made it evident that neither the swing-ride at Ahmedabad nor the red carpet at New Delhi worked, by timing its muscle-flexing in Ladakh to coincide with Xi's visit.
So, the best approach to China is not to waste time, effort and money on public relations extravaganzas, but to deal with it on a strictly professional and dignified plane, maintaining a degree of reserve and gravitas, and putting in public domain what India regards as the minimum essential guarantee it expects from China for harmonious relations based on mutual respect.
In doing so, India should not worry about any impact on investment from China. The kind of money pledged is a pittance compared to India's requirements.
In any case, Foreign Direct Investment constitutes a minuscule part of India's economy. If only India capitalises on the huge advantages it has in terms of the domestic market, unorganized sector and the rural potential (to cite just a few examples), ensures proper maintenance of its existing infrastructural assets and works them to optimal capacity, raises its project management capabilities and improves its work culture, it can add three to four percentage points to its GDP without expending a single rupee.
It is futile to run after the niggardly amounts these much hyped visits fetch without first eradicating the weaknesses within. Persistence of those weaknesses will make the amounts coming from outside go down the drain as well.
India cannot win against world players on their terms and in battlefields of their choosing, and, therefore, should do what Japan in the years after the World War II did quietly and without fuss: Develop its inherent strengths to the full by tapping the enormous treasure house of talents and skills it is.
Nor need India hanker after technology from abroad. Again, Japan is a good example of what judo strategy (converting one's vulnerabilities into strengths) can do for a country.
India's scientific community and domain professionals are second to none, and freed from the shackles and strangleholds of the outmoded and colonial systems and attitudes, and given clear and firm directions as to what is expected of them, they can achieve miracles.
Take nuclear technology, for instance. The so-called civil nuclear deal is a red herring. India's present nuclear power generating capacity is less than four per cent of the total installed capacity, and even if India dilutes the liability criteria and the US, Japan, China, Russia and France line up to supply us nuclear plants for the asking, there is no way nuclear power component can become a significant factor.
If India has to go in for nuclear power at all, the right and relevant technology is the one based on thorium of which it has the world's largest quantity in nature ready to be extracted. It can score over all other countries in this respect. The technology is within its reach, but has gone by default because of ignorance and lack of will, as also want of encouragement to the scientists in the field.
Likewise, India's scientists can master any other technology too. Thus, it is not such a critical factor as to compel the government to pull all stops to keep countries like China or Japan in good humor.
India's policy towards China is burdened by many other blinkers. First is the belief that the route to an amicable settlement of the border dispute is through expanding economic and trade relations.
For China, what it has repeatedly declared to be its 'core interests' are immutable, inviolate and inviolable, and the first among the core interests to which it attaches paramount importance is preserving national sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and unification (the reference, presumably, is to Taiwan) and no amount of sops from any of the countries affected by its unilateral prescriptions will mollify it or make it soften its stand.
India should understand this, and insist on first getting the border dispute resolved by a no-nonsense enunciation of what it considers its core propositions: a. Until the dispute is resolved, China must stop printing and publication of maps depicting its version of the disputed areas; b. There should be no official pronouncements questioning the status of areas which are integral part of India, such as Arunachal Pradesh; c. Denial of visas or discriminatory practices, such as issue stapled visas, must cease; d. The process of demarcating the border must be given a start within a stated time frame.
China must be made to realize that it has no monopoly of core interests. Over a period, China has been adding to them, making them out of bounds for the rest of the world, and adopting aggressive postures to enforce its own modern-day version of the Monroe Doctrine.
At one stroke, China has brought the South China Sea and Yellow Sea and entire Korean peninsula within its sphere of influence; it has enlarged the scope of maritime domination in strategic waters that connect northeast Asia and the Indian Ocean; and it has asserted its interventionist rights over whatever has a bearing on its 'core interests.'
It may have a sobering effect on China if India also draws up its own list of inviolable, immutable core interests and asks China to adhere to them. An illustrative list: Acceptance of Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India, no nuclear truck with Pakistan, no recognition of Pakistan's right to part of Jammu and Kashmir in its occupation, respect for borders, no dealings with Bhutan and Nepal without India too at the table, no tampering with established passport and visa procedures, no dumping.
It is time India did its own thing, without being bothered about what China or any other country, may think. There is nothing that China is doing -- whether it is 'string of pearls', grants and aids to other countries or whatever else -- that India cannot do after its own fashion and within its own competence.
It need not be lip-reading China and regulating its course on what would pass muster in China's (or American) eyes. On the contrary, it should forge and assert its policies and strategies on its own independent evaluation of its role and importance in the regional and global context