Befriending China

Last Updated 11 January 2010, 17:52 IST

Two centuries ago the share of India and China in the world economy was 25 and 33 per cent respectively. This declined in the colonial period and their share was reduced to about one and two per cent after the Second World War.

The last two decades have seen some improvement and presently their shares have increased to about two and six per cent, respectively. China is moving faster than us. Our laggard position is visible in the nature of our mutual trade as well. We are mainly exporting raw materials like iron ore while importing manufactured goods like toys and bulbs from China. This is the same pattern of trade that the British made with colonial India leading to our severe impoverishment: we exported raw cotton and imported finished cloth. The main reason is that we are not cooperating with each other in remolding the world economic order that is stacked against us.

Both countries are deprived of global leadership by the US but refuse to cooperate with each other. We see each other as enemies. Just as the British conquered and impoverished India — using the policy of ‘divide and rule’ — America is forging an anti-India, anti-China global consensus in global fora because India and China are bickering.

The share of the western countries in the world economy today is about 75 per cent while the combined share of India and China is about eight per cent. It is necessary that incomes of the developed countries should decline for us to regain our historical stature.
Some experts believe that instead of opposing the western countries we must cooperate with them and focus on increase in our incomes within the present world economic order. I am not convinced of this. We have been able to secure a paltry one per cent increase in the share of the world economy in 60 years of cooperation with the western countries.
The three power centres of the world today are India, China and America. India and China want to become No 1 while America wants to retain its position. All three see each other as competitors, if not as enemy. America is ruling the world because India and China are fighting each other.

At Copenhagen, for example, America was able to throw out the Kyoto Protocol because India and China did not make a joint strategy during the early negotiations. They can jointly try to remove the patent laws from the WTO and deprive the West of huge royalties which are a major source of their wealth and our deprivation today.
The roots of this mutual distrust appear to lie in our historical experiences. But the responsibility of crafting a new policy in this changed circumstance is with India because it is falling behind in the race for power. It is for us to take the first steps to be friends with China and jointly challenge the American might. Otherwise, America will rule the world just as the clever cat ate away the bread taking advantage of the fight between two monkeys.

The forward policy
The main impediment to such cooperation comes from the 1962 war. In his book ‘India’s China War’, Neville Maxwell had provided a wealth of data establishing the fact that the war was triggered by then defence minister Krishna Menon’s reckless ‘forward policy’.
The Indian Army made various uncalled for incursions into areas traditionally controlled by China. Real Admiral (Retd) Raja Menon says: “The Chinese have a saying called ‘teaching a lesson’. It is a part of their strategic vocabulary. As far as they are concerned, 1962 was not about grabbing territory but it was about teaching India a lesson.” We should accept our folly of 1962 and move ahead otherwise the America-China combine will crush us. Great powers should have the humility to accept their mistakes.

This atmosphere of mutual distrust pervades the actions of both sides. China is regularly advancing help to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan with the intent to weaken India’s influence in her backyard. It is opposing India’s membership of the UN Security Council. China condemned India’s 1998 Pokhran nuclear explosions. Ninety per cent of the arms sold by China are reportedly going to countries around the Indian Ocean. On the other hand India has consistently given protection to the Dalai Lama. She has also repeatedly broken ranks with China and other developing countries and toed American diktats as in Copenhagen. Our conflicts have provided a free run to the US to play one against the other.

We must take a lesson from the European countries. Germany had done much worse to France than China has done to India. Yet, the two countries are major players in the European Union. They have understood that holding on to old problems will impair their joint future. They have joined hands to strengthen their economic and political muscle. India and China should similarly let go of old disputes and focus on jointly defeating US machinations.

India and China should set aside their lingering border disputes when the United States is strangulating their economies. They must first together make sure that American supremacy is put to an end and then settle their claims. The US will continue to come up with new stratagems to keep us backward. The decision to kill Kyoto at Copenhagen is an indicator of the things to come. Both India and China will be deprived of their claims to global leadership and there will remain nothing much to fight about if they continue their infighting and do not rise against the United States together.

(Published 11 January 2010, 17:52 IST)

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