“INDIAN ELEPHANT MUST TANGO WITH CARE”

News : Indian Prime Minister Modi is to meet Chinese President XI Jinping on the side-lines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit at Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) to be held on 13-14 June 2019.

There are many blurbs and snippets of ‘Good friends’, Modi and Xi Jinping meeting, in Bishkek to discuss various issues of trade and commerce in a world unsettled by President Trump’s America First policy.

China which is at the receiving end of Trump’s policies would definitely like India on its side. Hence there is a lot of sweet talk from the Chinese media towards Modi. Chinese are well aware of the mushy sentimentality and naivete of Indians in the hard world of international politics.

In international relations, dealings with other countries would depend upon a number of factors, personal aims, ambitions and confidence of its leaders, national interests, economic and military clout, ideologies and history, just to name a few, and not necessarily in that order.

Realpolitik is all about transactional outcome.

In matters of state and serious diplomacy, even allowing for personal likes and dislikes, personal friendships and geniality go only so far in achieving ensuring national objectives.

Here it would be interesting to note what President Trump had to say about the meeting he is expected to have with Xi Jinping on the side lines of SCO.

“ I have a great relationship with him. He’s actually an incredible guy… but he’s for China and I’m for the US.” BLOOMBERG

In the case of China, even cursory perusal of its history will indicate an inherent tendency to expand and dominate, in correspondence with its growth in economic and military power. During the last century China has not only been laying claims but has managed to occupy neighboring countries like Tibet and Xinyang, and also extend its hegemony on the high seas, The Nine Dash line, unilaterally projected by China, claims areas that as per laws of the sea belong to Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. (China even “added a tenth-dash line to the east of Taiwan island in 2013 as a part of its official sovereignty claim to the disputed territories in the South China Sea.[11][13][14” ])Wiki.

At present China is a fast growing power, and among the strongest in the world.1 It has a political and administrative set up with a strong leadership due to which it is able to harness its potentials effectively and efficiently.2

China has avoided major military confrontations after 1979, when it last invaded Vietnam and clashed on the banks of Ussuri R with Russia.. However it has not desisted from frequent testing of its military and naval might and provoking responses of neighbors in from Ussuri R to Himalayas on land and in the South China Sea, where it has built up islands big enough to land aircraft and berths to dock naval vessels. (Dhoklam is only one among the latest in small time ‘provoke & test’ incursions).

In its strategic calculations China has accorded high priority to the access and domination of the Indian Ocean. An oil deficient country, China imports vast quantities, up to 10 million barrels a day, of crude and natural gas. Ships carrying millions of tonnes of oil and gas have to cross the Indian Ocean and the Straits of Malacca on the way home from the Middle East. While China’s desire to safeguard its trade routes in the Indian Ocean,3 and quest for a safe and clear land route to the southern oceans is natural, the methods adopted, and the steps taken to achieve the objectives are clearly producing negative reactions in South Asia. The pressures exerted on countries like Myanmar, Malaysia, Srilanka, Pakistan, and Maldives to undertake road and port projects are raising hackles locally.

A positive approach by China would lead to peace, security and prosperity for all in Asia.

If China accepts that every South Asian country has a right to live and be independent, it will stop propping up and inciting neighbours to fight with one another. It was the colonial mindset, and China should avoid it in its dealing with neighbours.

A positive attitude towards India and other South Asian Countries would have easily opened up land routes and through Myanmar, Bangladesh and India. It would have raised trade relations to even higher levels. Its land routes would have been

secure. India with its growing naval power could have taken easily care of and secured the high seas in the Indian Ocean for safe movements of Chinese vessels.

Even better, the India-China border of 3380 km stretching over inhospitable mountainous terrain, would have been peaceful; making redundant large deployments of Chinese forces.

However, the uncompromising approach adopted by China in its dealings with neighboring states has led to rise in unnecessary tensions, imprudence in Chinese financial transactions, reduction in security, increase in terrorism and support to terrorist organisations.

Flawed Chinese policies today, in respect of its relations with other south Asian countries, have compelled it to supporting a Pakistan run by its obscurantist military. The China Pakistan Economic corridor, though good on paper, and costing $ 60 billion +, is fraught with growing problems. Pakistan is a state that is financially unviable today, and a high risk area for any judicious entrepreneur to invest in. China is sinking over $ 60 billion there. Will it ever recover that amount?

However,a major Indian concern is the fact that CPEC passes through Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan. China is not even willing to accept this fact and is going ahead with the CPEC project completely ignoring India’s concerns.

Chinese have so far turned a blind eye to the export of terrorism by Pakistani terrorist organisations. The case of JeM and Masood Azar is too familiar to bear repetition. It must be noted that repeated friendly overtures by India and Modi had no effect in declaring Azar a terrorist. It took the combined efforts of USA, UK and France to move XI Jinping to an acceptance of declaring Azar as a terrorist.

A matter of cultural trait, Indians tend to be emotional and sentimental, and accept others blindly, to a fault. Delusion that going out of the way to express friendship, hoping that personal friendship and amenability will subsume national interests have clouded the judgement of Indian leaders since independence. Mushy idealism and sentimentalism have lead to India abrogating national interests and losing time and again to worldly wise leaders from other countries.

The best of bargaining chips have been frittered away by Indian negotiators and Prime Ministers, from Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai, Rajiv Gandhi. To IK Gujaral, and Manmohan Singh. Loss of Tibet, a third of Kashmir, areas in the Rann of Kutch, surrender and betrayal of intelligence assets , the list is long and excruciating.

Coming back to Prime Minister Modi, his ‘goodwill and personal friendship’ with Nawaz Sharif did not get India anywhere in its quest for peace and security, or elimination of cross border, state sponsored terrorism with Pakistan.

In the case of China comparatively quite borders in the North should not lull India to the threats emanating from the encircling strategy adopted by China in the Indian ocean and the littoral states. In pursuit of ‘Active Defense’ as explained in its

Science of Military Strategy , China’s Naval forces are being augmented on a monthly basis. By 2030 China will possess at least 5 aircraft carriers, 50 + destroyers, 50 + frigates, and 25 submarines of which at least 6 will be Nuclear. Chinese Navy plans to dominate not just the China Sea but the Indian ocean and beyond to the Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba.

Historically China has never given up on its claims to territory on land or Sea. It has boycotted, ignored, or simply brushed aside any objections to its claims. Its stand on Aksai Chin, McMahon Line are known to us. The manner it has rejected and brushed aside the verdict of Haig tribunal’s ruling in South China Sea case which upheld the case of Philippines and pulled up China is among the latest approach to international behaviour.

Luckily India has a pragmatic leader in Prime Minister Modi. With Shri Doval and Shri Jaishankar, who have proved their mettle more than once in matters of security and diplomacy as advisors, India can expect the best possible outcome in the SCO meeting.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on Tuesday that China’s claims to the resource-rich and strategically vital South China Sea had no legal basis. China, which had boycotted the case brought by the Philippines, vowed to ignore the ruling, saying the UN-backed tribunal had no jurisdiction over the case and accused it of bias. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/philippines-china-respect-hague-ruling-160714055516116.html

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