Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Implications of Chinese Prez Xi's visit to India



Implications of Chinese Prez Xi's visit to India

What hectic Indian diplomacy in 6 months


In the wake of ongoing strategic struggle between Russia and U.S.-led West in the Middle East and Ukraine, president Xi's visit to India, after the recent visit of Prime Minister Modi to Japan and his meetings with Pres Vladimir Putin and the Chinese Pres Xi in Brazil during the Brics summit and overall tactical and strategic moves by U.S.-led West, Russia and China , the forthcoming visit would be a pointer towards India's place in international strategic matrix  and economic equations to underpin it  ,whose ramifications would impact  Asia, Eurasia and the world in general.


Since many years, I have depreciated  statements by the previous governments influenced by IMF pensioners, who always looked to Washington for approval and a photo opportunity .I have also applauded recent assertions of India's sovereignty and autonomy against US blackmail ,threats and anti-India policies. Remember the bowing and toeing during visits by Obama and Mrs Clinton, the latter even indicated where US will install nuclear power plants in India. So what has happened!


"When there is a general change of conditions, it is as if the entire creation had been changed and the whole world been altered." - Ibn Khaldun  


It would appear that Ministry of External Affairs has now greater freedom in providing policy options and briefs for an independent policy based on our strategic and economic interests, with neighbors and in Asia and for even closer relations with Russia, so that in peace, our region can work towards an emerging Asian century, along with Eurasian nations like Russia and its neighbors in the East and Germany, which is itching to get out from the heels of Washington since the end of WWII.


In this connection, I reproduce below a piece from Asia Times by an expert on China on Xi' visit. There is a triangular dance between India on one side and Japan and China on the other. As a harbinger of changed equations, Prime Minister Modi's visit began with him landing in Kyoto where he was received by Prime Minister Abe of Japan .As for Chinese Pres visit, according to media reports the guest would first land in Gujarat and like the twinning of Varanasi with Kyoto, twinning between Ahmedabad and Guangzhou has been proposed.


Apart from other differences, a major problem between India and China is the dispute along the borders. This problem emerged after the conflict of 1962, because of somewhat ill-advised policy by India from which New Delhi has still not recovered and to put it aside. Modi has no such baggage and India at an appropriate time can come to an agreement with China, for the time being setting it aside and going full steam ahead in promoting bilateral economic relations.


There are many examples in Europe and even Asia, where emotionally charged nationalistic disputes have been set aside to which solutions were found much more easily later on. One of them is the Alsace Lorraine problem between France and Germany after World War II, Trieste problem between Italy and Yugoslavia and nearer home, the border problem of 1950s between Russia and China and between Indonesia and Malaysia before creation of Asean.


Also add the September summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in September. The reports suggest of India being invited to become its full member.


I do not recall any period in India's recent history since independence when the Indian foreign office has been charged with dealing with so many important aspects of its strategic and economic relations, one after the other.


K.Gajendra Singh .9 September, 2014.



Xi faces juggling act in India
By Francesco Sisci  Asia Times 9 Sept 2014

BEIJING - In the third week of September, Chinese President Xi Jinping will face one of his most difficult challenges in foreign policy so far. During his visit to New Delhi, he will have to boost ties with China's giant neighbor, India, while striking a balance between the growing relationships with India and Japan, a country now with complicated connections to China. 

It is also seems in the interest of the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to improve India's bond with China. In fact, at the beginning of September, in the same hours that Modi was in Tokyo for a state visit, Indian Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was in Beijing to prepare for Xi's forthcoming trip. If India "sells" itself to Japan, then it can raise the stakes for China and vice versa, playing, rightly, on their international competition. If, conversely, India were to lose influence with one of these two countries, China or Japan, its residual "price" and leverage with the remaining country would be lower. 

This objective situation pushes every country in the region to heighten tensions with neighbors up to a point, and unruffle feathers up to a point. A certain level of regional anxiety in fact can be beneficial in extracting advantages from one another and from the two main powers and rivals in the region: the United States and China. This is a dispassionate factor pushing all nations in the area to keep the two countries both present and rivals in Asia. 

With this in mind, Xi will have to match and possibly trump what Modi got in the past days in Tokyo, while Beijing's attachment with Delhi in comparison with Tokyo-Delhi entente, has unmatchable geographic advantages and disadvantages. 

Tokyo offered a huge economic package to Delhi: an investment of more than US$33 billion over five years. In two years, Japan will invest more in India than it has from 2000 until now. Moreover, Tokyo has pledged a massive civil and military technology transfer, something that should help to rapidly upgrade Indian industry. India in return lifted limits on ownership and management of infrastructure and railways with the aim apparently to build a new network of bullet trains across the country modeled on the Japanese system. 

In theory Xi could offer even more, up to a point. Its cash resources are vaster than Japan's; its railway experience, beefed up by the support of German machinery, is perhaps not second to Japan's. While its industrial technology is generally behind Japan's, the huge promise of its markets may lure many Indian companies to China. What will make it or break it between China and India is an agreement on the contested border. 

It is no mystery that China and India have been playing for years with the idea of linking themselves via two railway lines: one that would go straight north to Tibet and the rest of China and other to the east, which would cross Burma, reach Thailand, and then move up to the Chinese province of Yunnan. But to get going on both lines, the two demographic superpowers have to solve the border issue that has been straining bilateral ties for over 50 years. 

This is not so much a problem of drawing a map on the ground but of the handling of respective public opinion, both very nationalistic. In 1962, the Chinese won a short war against India and invaded part of the contested territory, but despite maintaining the claim, they withdrew to the prewar lines. Mao made the decision, and thus it is hard for any future Chinese leader to undo it. That is, it would be tough to actually defend the theory of conquering back the abandoned territory (the present Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh). But it is equally not easy to give up on the theoretical claim without looking weak with foreigners - especially now, at a moment when Xi is decapitating the security and military apparatus in an unprecedented corruption probe. 

And yet for China the issues are not just of trains and economic development. In a recent essay, Wang Jisi [1] warned of the risks China is running in taking on the US and Japan at the same time, as ties with both are deteriorating simultaneously. This is the first time it has happened since Mao opened to America in 1971. Wang was courageous in taking on this theme at a time when in some Chinese circles are full of nationalist braggadocio that inflates Chinese achievements of the past three decades while overlooking the many faults the country still has. 

In this situation with US and Japan, it should be impossible to freeze ties with India as well. India in theory was held in check for decades by the threat of Pakistan, China's old-time ally. However, the long Afghani war has reduced Pakistan to an almost failed state. Pakistan's old support to China in checking potential Uyghur terrorists is dwindling, as the country is losing control of its territory and security agencies. These are growing more independent from the intention of the government, each with its own agenda. 

India's concern now is possibly not so much to contain or not be contained by Pakistan, but to prevent the complete dissolution of its neighbor. In this situation, India has a freer rein to become a strategic and economic containment to China. With its population and size India is de facto now the only arresting presence for China in the region. This should make China fully aware it should go out of its way to build a new neighborly relation. 

In fact, this may also be in the interest of Delhi. Its history, size, and population boost India's ambition to be much more than a puppet in other people's hands to contain - or however one wants to put it - China. This in turn should warn China and its rivals that India is much more than a pawn in a containment strategy. Modi apparently wants to use the new regional tensions and rivalry to boost India's economic growth. If he manages to do it and reduce even marginally the distance in GDP's size with China, something very likely and to be hoped for the good of the Indians, the result in a few years could be much more complicated than a simple global concern for China's ambition and rise. One would have not one but two demographic hyper states with growing global ambitions challenging the old world order. 

This perspective in turn should call for more cooperation and consultation with China, America, and Japan. Yet the present tensions prevent it, and Xi is left to walk this tightrope alone in a few days. 

1. See here 

Francesco Sisci is a Senior Researcher associated with the Center for European Studies at the People's University in Beijing. The opinions expressed are his own and do not represent in any way those of the Center. 

(Copyright 2014 Francesco Sisci.)