FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Why India, China must look beyond Dokalam and work together
Posted:Jul 17, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Gulshan Sachdeva 
 
The current military stand-off at Dokalam will test effectiveness of changing foreign policy orientation in both India and China. After years of concentrating mainly on economic modernisation, China is becoming more assertive in the last few years. Twenty-five years of relatively high growth has also made India confident. The strategic consequences of growth are clearly evident with New Delhi signing close to 30 strategic partnerships and about 15 trade agreements.
 
As both Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping would like to be portrayed as strong leaders to their citizens, neither side is likely to back down from the present standoff in a hurry. The behaviour of both big powers is going to shape the evolving Asian economic and security architecture. The indications of conflicting or cooperative Asian architecture as well as role of external players like the United States, Russia and Europe will also become clearer soon. The relevance of New Delhi’s increasing ties with the US is going to be tested before long.
 
China’s economy and global trade is five times bigger than India. Due to this huge asymmetry, Chinese have been quite relaxed about New Delhi. In comparison, many in India have been more nervous about the rise of China. And the growing Chinese influence in South, Southeast and Central Asia —regions of immediate Indian concern — has been watched carefully by New Delhi. In the meanwhile, with $70 billion bilateral trade, China has become the number one trading partner of India. With only $10 billion exports going to China, the trade is hugely tilted in favour of Beijing. So, increasing economic ties have not necessarily reduced tensions.
 
For years, New Delhi has believed that China has transferred nuclear and missile technology to Pakistan, so that India is bottled up in South Asia. With its ‘all weather’ friend Pakistan further blocking India westwards, Indian access to Afghanistan and Central Asia has become difficult. This has provided China a relatively free space in Eurasia. In addition, Russia’s growing tensions with Europe and the US also made Moscow further close to Beijing.
 
Despite all these complexities, both India and China have managed their relations reasonably well so far. One of the main sources of tension between India and China is their shared but disputed border. Since 1993 when an agreement on the maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was signed, incidents of Chinese troops crossing the border have not gone out of control. Tone of cooperation at the BRICS gatherings as well as India’s entry into Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has been part of this trend.
 
Indirect Chinese reference during Modi’s US visit and India’s decision to boycott the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) gathering seems to have annoyed Beijing. Similarly, Chinese objections to India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as blocking India’s move to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar in the United Nations have made New Delhi suspicious of Beijing’s real intensions. The nationalistic rhetoric fuelled by media from both sides has created a situation, in which Dokalam has become more than a ‘normal border incident’. The entry of a new actor, Bhutan into this game has made things further complicated and, to some extent, unpredictable.
 
Most European powers are not very comfortable with the rise of China. Apart from some statements on human rights and democracy, however, they are unable to do much. How to manage China’s rise was left to the US. The ‘pivot to Asia’ or rebalancing initiated by the Obama administration is practically over. The current policy muddle in Washington will benefit China.
 
The South China Sea dispute had provided an opportunity for the West to put pressure on China. An extended India-China standoff would provide another chance for them to pinprick China without getting involved in a serious manner. The vice-president of the European parliament Ryszard Czarnecki has asserted that “Chinese action in the Doklam plateau can be seen as a part of the country’s recent tendency to unilaterally change the ground situation in areas that are disputed”. The US so far has avoided commenting on the standoff. The joint India-US-Japan Malabar Exercise was a regular event, though some in the Indian media were trying to link it with the standoff. The exercise started way back in 1994.
 
The all-party meeting on the standoff has rightly stressed on diplomatic engagement. Enhanced engagement and understanding is required not just for Dokalam but also for broader strategic issues and economic projects. Some serious issues are involved in projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Still, there is an ample scope of coordinating the BRI with our initiatives like the International North South Transport Corridor, Chabahar port, Kaladan Multi-Model Transit Transport Project or the newly launched Asia-Africa Growth Corridor. Beyond geopolitical moves, all these projects offer tremendous developmental opportunities for citizens in participating countries.
 
With cooperation and coordination both India and China can make the 21st century a truly Asian century. Otherwise conflicting Asian powers will offer opportunities for the West to continue its hegemony for some more decades.
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image India’s Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari visited Armenia recently to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
 
read-more
The US has slammed Pakistan for failing to crackdown on terror groups operating from "safe havens" inside its territory, and said the Nawaz Sharif government did not take any action against the LeT and JeM, which continue to operate openly.
 
read-more
In dispatching its  PLA (Peoples Liberation Army)  marines to Djibuti in the Horn of Africa on Wednesday (July 12 ) by amphibious ships, from the southern port of Zhanjiang, China has taken a significant step in enhancing its  trans-border military footprint.
 
read-more
It is becoming increasingly obvious that China is experiencing a sort of superiority obsession, imagining it can dominate and conquer the world. Several Chinese acts in the recent past indicate such an attitude. Asian nations, which are now apprehensive about China’s aggressive postures, are unclear how matters will shape up.
 
read-more
Men of letters have outstanding world views, but sometimes their views on the situation in the Valley are coloured by lack of practical appreciation of the ground reality.
 
read-more
For many of us in India — and, indeed, in the rest of the world — the Chinese economic story has been seen for what it is: a country determined by its leadership’s sheer will to lift its people first out of paddy fields
 
read-more
IS retired Gen Raheel Sharif commanding a ghost army? Government representatives have insisted that so long as the terms of reference of the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism are not finalised, Pakistan’s participation cannot be determined.
 
read-more
  The U.S. administration’s decision to slap sanctions on 18 Iranian individuals and entities on Tuesday, only a day after it certified to Congress that Tehran was compliant with the conditions of the nuclear deal, sums up its strategic resolve in taking on the Islamic Republic and the tactical dilemma it faces while doi
 
read-more
S.T. Lee Distinguished Lecture of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore on "India, ASEAN and Changing Geopolitics”
 
read-more
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Column-image

This is the continuing amazing spiritual journey of a Muslim man from Kerala who plunged into Vedic religion after a chance encounter with a Hindu mystic under a jackfruit tree in the backyard of his house when he was just nine. It is a story w...

 
Column-image

History is told by the victors but in our modern age, even contemporary events get - or are given - a slant, where some contributors soon get eclipsed from the narrative or their images tarnished.

 
Column-image

Humans have long had a fear of malignant supernatural beings but there may be times when even the latter cannot compare with the sheer evil and destructiveness mortals may be capable of. But then seeking to enable the end of the world due to it...

 
Column-image

Title: Reporting Pakistan; Author: Meena Menon; Publisher: Viking/Penguin Random House; Pages: 340; Price: Rs 599

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive