May , 2023
A relook at India – China relationship
15:41 pm

Buroshiva Dasgupta

If the 20th century was dominated by the west, global observers say the 21st century will be ruled by the east – more specifically, by China & India. World Bank has already predicted that by 2024, China will surpass the US in GDP growth. And India will be close third.The US is visibly concerned. It has dropped its traditional ally Pakistan and is closing up to India to tackle China.

The Quad, where the US has roped in Japan, Australia and India is being pushed to become a ‘military’ treaty to tackle China’s domina-tion in the South China Sea, Indian Ocean and the Pacific. But India is reluctant to turn Quad into a military alliance and it was made amply clear in the recent G20 meeting where India announced that Quad is a trade and social welfare treaty. This, in spite of China describing Quad as an ‘eastern NATO’.China has grown five times stronger than India. Jaishankar makes it very clear that India should not make the same mistake which it did in 1962 – going to war with China without measuring the strength of its enemy. He quotes a war strategist saying that the wise win the war before the fight; only fools fight the war to win the war. At the end of the chapter on China, Jaishankar even draws the allusion from the game of chess - saying India should chose the ‘black’ side, and play the “Indian defence” game.

It is true India has reasons to be upset with China’s provocations. Whatever happened in Gallwan could easily push the two countries to war. But India showed exemplary restraint. The dams being built in Tibet across the Brahmaputra are certainly a matter of concern. Pakistan is a close ally of China; China is also trying to win over Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. In other words, China is encircling India. Aksai Chin and the demand for Arunachal Pradesh are constant irritation. Yet India’s restraint reveals remarkable maturity in global affairs. India is looking forward to a brighter future with new global alignments. India was not a party to the ‘cold war’ between the US and USSR; nor will it be in another future cold war between the US and China.India has to do a lot in the path of development to catch up with China. If China is building the new silk route - one belt, one road – across the world, India is moving fast, inwards, with its road and rail infrastructure to reassemble its own resources. The vision of China to invest in Africa is another masterstroke which India is rightfully imitating.

The west has propagated Africa as the ‘epicentre of world poverty’ while plundering its resources for 400 years. But Africa after independence of its 55 countries is fast coming back and standing on its feet through the African Union.The Indian foreign minister Jaishankar’s book ‘The India Way’ clearly defines what India’s stand will be towards China. In the rise of the east, India need to be more strategic in its dealings with China. In spite of provocations in the border, India should not come into open confrontation with China and lose its chances of becoming a partner in the rise of the eastern world. In the 1980s, the per capita income of India and China was almost the same; but today in the last four decades, It is possible that the 21st century lead of the east, fueled by China and India, may by 2050, shift to Africa which has the potential of becoming the new epicentre of world’s wealth. Its resources are immense. Both China and India have realized it.


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