Assertive China Vs Docile Bharat

What are the plus and minus points of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 3-day visit to China and what impact it is going to have on the domestic politics as well as the world diplomacy?

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DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI

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What are the plus and minus points of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 3-day visit to China and what impact it is going to have on the domestic politics as well as the world diplomacy? Did Dr. Manmohan Singh apprise his Chinese counterpart of his country’s genuine apprehensions vis-à-vis that country. If not, why? Was the visit that concluded on January 14, a success or a failure?
A possible plus point of this visit may bridge the gulf between the Congress and the Left. If that takes place, the national scene would undergo a complete transformation. It would stop the Saffron in the tracks that go towards the National Parliament in New Delhi. That would even avert a national tragedy in which every effort is likely to be made to turn each and every State into a Gujarat. In the case of realignment of the political forces at the top, it might be the secularists versus the Saffron after 2009.
 
RELATIVE TERMS
Like moral values, success and failure too happen to be “relative terms” today. What is “success” to the Prime Minister may be a “failure” to the leader of the Opposition in Parliament. This, however is significant that after the visit, Mr. L.K. Advani has appreciated the “evolution of ties” with China. Understandably, he credited and traced this evolution to Mr. A.B. Vajpayee’s efforts as a Foreign Minister in the late 1970s and later on as Prime Minister. He had also a good word for Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao and Mr. Rajiv Gandhi in this regard. He has also endorsed the policy of normalisation and strengthening of ties “without holding them hostage to the resolution of border dispute.” This point is noteworthy.
Perhaps with three points on his mind, the Prime Minister conducted this odyssey: to elicit a positive response from China on the civil nuclear deal with the United States; to send an indirect message to the Beijingers of Bharat that your Mecca also is with New Delhi on the issue, and thirdly, to ask China to correct the qualitative and quantitative imbalance in the trade ties. There is no third issue of any importance in the document called “A Shared Vision for the 21st century.” The joint document says: “As two countries with advanced scientific capabilities, the two sides pledge to promote bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energy, consistent with their respective international commitments.”
Extraordinary
What is extraordinary in this formulation? The only significance that this formulation carries is: Let the brow beaten Indian Left now have a second look at its stiff opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal for civilian purposes.
It is fair to recall that the Left opposition has been mainly on two counts: One, the deal compromises the sovereignty of India and secondly, it pushes India into the US orbit.
Under the alibi of “globalisation” its advocates philosophise that now much importance  should not be attached to the concept of sovereignties, as the world itself has been reduced to what they call a global village.
The supremacy of “World Bank” which is an extension of the US, has also helped reduce sovereignties. Add to it the self promulgated right to unilateral strike on the conformist states by the United States. These US mechanisations have really reduced the importance of sovereignty, which has hitherto been taken as an inalienable ingredient and absolutely essential part of any State’s independence. Now independence itself stands threatened following the US wont to change leadership in foreign countries.
Data Jugglery
As far as the trade anomalies are concerned, if you want to see a concrete example of data jugglery, have a glance over the statistics of India-China trade: “Bilateral trade in 2007 rose 56 per cent over the previous year to touch $ 38 billion, more than double the rate of growth of either country’s international trade last year. However, investment relations between the two countries have not taken off, so feels editorially The Times of India (January17). It adds: “India is disturbed that the growing trade ties have not worked to its advantage. The bilateral trade deficit has ballooned to nearly $10 billion in China’s favour. The composition of India’s exports and imports explains some of this mismatch. India exports low-value articles, such as iron and cotton to China but imports electrical machinery and equipment, nuclear reactors and organic chemicals.”
 
UN Seat
Now China has, once again, supported the Indian ambition to become a permanent-member of the UN Security Council. The genuineness of this desire is undisputable as now India is, in its own right, a nuclear power, an industrial power, besides being a military, air and naval power. Several other States have also endorsed New Delhi’s standpoint. Significant would have this endorsement been had Beijing stated now it would take positive initiative in getting Bharat its due in the prestigious club. That is missing and that was, and is expected from the Asian giant.
On the border settlement issue there has been little progress during the last 27 years. China makes pledges but never translates them into action. For example, when Mr. Hu visited New Delhi, about 17 years ago, the following was pledged: “Along with the talks between the Special Representatives, the Joint Working Group (JWG) on the India-China boundary question shall expedite their work, including on the clarification and       confirmation of the line of actual control (LAC) and the implementation of confidence-building measures. It was agreed to complete the process of exchanging maps indicating their respective perceptions of the entire alignment of the LAC on the basis of already agreed parameters as soon as possible.”
REALITIES
The China-watchers ask: where is the Joint Woking Group and what it has done till date? The sad truth is Beijing is averse to clarifying the frontline in Sikkim and Arunachal – so because such a step would reduce the Chinese military pressure on Bharat.
Today there is no mutually defined line of control. The unfortunate reality remains that exchange of maps of the eastern sector (Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh) and western sector (Jammu and Kashmir) have yet to be exchanged. China has exchanged map of only one, somewhat insignificant sector (Uttarakhand and Himachal). Having done that – to the utter bewilderment of New Delhi – Beijing quickly went back upon its commitment to exchange maps of the other two sectors. To quote an eminent strategic affair analyst: “Beijing’s disinclination to trade maps underlines its aversions to clinch an overall border settlement or even to remove the ambiguities plaguing the long rugged LAC, says Mr. Brahma Chellaney, and adds: In fact, the real reason the two countries are locked in what is already the longest and most-barren negotiating process between any two countries in modern world history is that China – not content with the one-fifth of the original state of Jammu and Kashmir it occupies – seeks to further redraw its frontiers with India, coveting above all Tawang, a strategic door-way to the Assam Valley. Seeking to territorially extend the gains from its annexation of Tibet, Beijing unabashedly follows the principle that what it occupies is Chinese territory beyond question and what it claims should be on the negotiating table for barter. (Asian Age, January 15).
CLAWS AND TEETH
India and China are two continental sized countries. Both have teeth and claws. That would be a bad day for Asia when they cross swords on territorial issues.
Although New Delhi is somewhat inexplicably, playing it cool, there, during the last 12 months, have been reported around 300 military incursions across the Line of Actual Control. To add insult to injury, when India, in May last, brought to China’s notice, its military’s action against two Indian military posts and three disputed bunkers at Bhutan-Sikkim-Tibet tri-junction, the Chinese Foreign Minister’s message to his Indian counterpart was: “Beijing no longer felt bound by a 2005 agreement on “guiding principles” that any border-related settlement should not disturb settled populations.”
It is obvious that behind China’s muscular foreign policy is its ever-rising economic and military power. Beijing is expanding its military infrastructure in Tibet. Its roads reach the Line of Actual Control. Its railways touch Lahsa.
 
Modest Diplomacy
New Delhi, perhaps out of its modest diplomacy, does not acknowledge loudly. But the truth remains that Tibet and Burma are at the centre of Indo-China relations. To Beijing, Burma happens to the way of entry to Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean.
According to the knowledgeable sources, “Beijing is busy completing the Irrawaddy Corridor involving road, river, rail and energy-transport links between Burmese ports and Yunnan. For India, such links constitute strategic pressure on the eastern flank. China is already building another north-south strategic corridor to the west of India – the Trans-Karakoram Corridor, stretching right up to Pakistan’s Chinese-built Gwadar Port, at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz – as well as an east-west strategic corridor in Tibet across India’s northern frontiers. In Burma, Beijing is also helping construct a 1,500 km highway leading to Arunachal Pradesh. Such links, it is obvious, hold serious implications for India because they allow Beijing to strategically meddle in India’s restive north-east and step up indirect military pressure…. The centrality of the Tibet issue has been highlighted both by China’s Tibet-linked territorial claim to Arunachal and by its major inter-basin and inter-river water transfer projects in the Tibetan plateau, the source of all of Asia’s major rivers except the Ganges. By damming the Brahmaputra and Sutlej and toying with the idea of diverting the Brahmaputra water to the parched Yellow River, Beijing is threatening to fashion water into a weapon against India.
Expansion
The ground reality with which Bharat stands confronted today is: the over-all Chinese muscular diplomacy, well-oiled war machine, expanding Beijing to the north, a Beijing allied Pakistan, on the west, a Beijing influenced Burma, to the east, and the ever-growing Chinese naval presence in the Indian ocean. Beijing’s concept of Asia is China-oriented. This calls for a serious thinking and proper notice by the South Block.