Dr Muhammad Khan
The Sino Indian relationship has three major dimensions; the economic relationship; mainly focusing on bilateral trade and commerce, the political and diplomatic relationship and the military and strategic relationship. Following the 1962 Sino-India war, though the ice breaking took place in late 1980s, however, it took the decade of 1990s in the normalization of bilateral relationship. In the field of trade and commerce, there has been phenomenal progress between China and India in last two decades.
The bilateral trade that was just $2.9 billion in year 2000 has reached to $75 billion in 2016, though the trend of trade benefit has been towards China. Indian economists and business community see lot of prospects in further development of this rising bilateral trade. Indian President, Mukherjee believes that, “two nations needed to share developmental experience.” He also believes that, despite progress in the bilateral trade, both countries still needs to exploit the immense opportunities and potentials for economic development between China and India.
Whereas, the bilateral trade and commerce have increased the stakes for both countries, there have been of trust deficiet in the political and strategic relationship between two most populious Asian countries. The major reason reason of this trust deficiet can be attributed to the competition, rather cooperation on the regional global issues. Besides, the politics of global alliance and their regional implications have further deteriorated this bilateral trust. The US containment policy of China and its strategic partnership with India since the beginning of 21st century is a major contributory factor in the political and strategic relationship of both Asian neighbours.
On the part of China, there have been constant efforts for improvements in the bilateral relationship of India and China. The Chinese policy of good neighbours has greately contributed in this regard. It was following the same policy that obliged Prime Minister Li keqiang to undertake three days visits of India in May 2013. It was indeed, the first foreign tour of Premier Li, ever since he took over as the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China. It is worth mentioning that, earlier, there were looming threats for a likely military confrontation over a military post in the northern Kashmir (Ladakh area-IOK). According to some Indian analysts, this dispute was more serious than, the one which led to 1962, Sino-India war.
However, the Chinese vision and policy of good neighbours brought an end to the escalating situation. It is to be noted that, Line of Actual Control (LAC) in some of portion of Ladakh is yet not been demarcated. Any Chinese intrusion in this area could “cut the only supply route to the strategic Indian Air Force base at Daulat Beg Oldi, and thereby force India to dismantle it.” Chinese side however, had reservations of an Indian outpost at Chumar. This Indian strategic military outpost was indeed, “a strategic lookout point that overlooked Chinese communication lines in Aksai Chin.” Before visit of Prime Minister Li, India dismantled this strategic military outpost.
As a good will gesture, Chinese Premier wrote in his article that, about a prospectus improvement in Sino-India relationship in the coming years. This gesture was quite visible once prime Minister ended his three days Indian tour. Upon completion of his visit, Prime Minister Li said that, his Indian visit was successful and he “felt at home.” Later President Xi Jinping visited India in 2014 and both countries signed 12 agreements. China pledged to make investment of $20bn in India’s infrastructure development I next five years. These areas include; helping India’s ageing railway system to an up-to-date state, setting up of industrial parks and provide excessive Indian excess to Chinese markets. Indian prime Minister also reciprocated the visit in May 2015.
Unfortunately, despite a good will at Beijing, Delhi behaves otherwise and adopts a policy of antagonism. On the regional and global issues, India sees China as rival on all accounts. May be it is political matters, the diplomatic issues or the strategic problems, New Delhi seems in competition with Beijing.
A book entitled “Grand Strategy for India: 2020 and Beyond, was published by ‘Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses (IDSA) New DelhI’ in 2012. The book was edited by Krishnappa Venkatshamy and Princy George. With respect to Indian security, the book outlines that, “India’s security in next decades will also depend on how the broader regional situation evolves. Much of the world is wary of China’s rise. India, in particular, is concerned about China’s continuing support to Pakistan and its growing footprint in regions that are of strategic interest to India.” The book emphasizes the Indian security planners to strengthen the defence capabilities in order to counter the impending challenges, facing the Indian state: internally in the form of insurgencies in its north and northeastern states and regionally from China and Pakistan. The essence of the book is that, India has to act as global power. While Indian strategists are sweating for greater Indian role in the international politics, the world biggest democracy has one of the worst poverty at home, suffering from poor governance with inbuilt corruption and nastiest record of human rights.
May it be the recent issue of NSG membership or Indian race for the UNSC membership; it has to go via Beijing. US would continue using India for its strategic objectives, but should India accept for itself a role as a tool of US and spoil its relationship with neighbours, as it is doing currently. The Indian strategists propose for India a bigger role at the strategic level in the contemporary strategic environment. Is India really ready to assume such a role for itself. India needs to improve its relations with neighbours, especially Pakistan by resolving the outstanding issues, before, it look for a major role outside the region.
— The writer is International Relations analyst based in Islamabad.