Chinese postures causing concern, says Manmohan

Prime Minister plays down recent Sino-US joint statement

Chinese postures causing concern, says Manmohan

None other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself came in the open, questioning India’s growing concern over China’s aggressive anti-India postures in recent months.
“There is a certain amount of assertiveness on the part of Chinese. I don’t fully understand the reasons for it. That has to be taken note of,” the prime minister said during an interaction at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) –– a leading foreign policy think tank, here late on Monday.

Overtly, the prime minister said he was not bothered about the recent US-China joint statement in Beijing issued after President Barack Obama’s summit talks with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao which, among others, envisaged a role for China in South Asian affairs.

“What happens between President Obama and President Hu is not our direct concern,” he said.

But the fact that Singh made some plain-speaking in Washington — not very palatable to the Chinese leadership –– just ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with President Obama, could be very significant as there has been an impression in the US that Obama had gone too much to accommodate China during his recent visit to that country.

Singh was responding to questions from CFR president Richard N Haass, a leading foreign policy adviser to the previous Bush administration. The prime minister said India and the world at large would have to deal with China and should support its peaceful development.

While India supported China’s peaceful development, it has also to deal with a long-pending boundary problem with its Himalayan neighbour. Though both countries had agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity along the disputed borders pending a final resolution, the prime minister, felt that the Chinese aggressiveness of late was inexplicable. 

Singh was obviously referring to China’s objections over his recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh, its move to adopt a different system of visa for Indian nationals from the Kashmir region, its questioning of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang, etc.
But going a step further during the course of the interactive session at which among the audience were Washington-based diplomats from countries such as China and Pakistan, the prime minister virtually ridiculed China's impressive double-digit economic growth rates.

He said while China had recorded very impressive growth rates and substantially improved the standard of living of its people, there was something more to economic development beyond impressive GDP growth rates.

India might not have been able to achieve the growth rates recorded by China. But there were other dimensions to human development like democratic freedom and human rights.

The Chinese growth was achieved through “writ of the ruling group in an undemocratic setup,” he asserted.

“No doubt Chinese growth performance is superior to India's growth performance. But I always believe that there are other values which are important than the growth of Gross Domestic Product –– respect for fundamental human rights, respect for rule of law, respect for multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious rights, he said.

“There are several dimensions to human freedom which are not always caught by the numbers with regard to the GDP. So I do believe that even though the Indian performance with regard to GDP might not be as good as the Chinese, certainly I would not like to choose the Chinese path.  I would like to stick to Indian path,” the prime minister said.

However, the prime minister said India and the US should support China’s peaceful development and engage it. The prime minister also fielded questions on India’s Iran, Pakistan and Afghan policies.

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