Thursday, December 16, 2010

CHINA: INDIA MORE ASSERTIVE, BUT NOT YET ADEQUATELY

B.RAMAN



India has begun being more assertive against China than it was till the end of last year, but not yet in an adequate measure so as to be able to make an impact on Chinese policy-making towards India. That is the conclusion emerging from a study of the Joint statement issued at the end of the talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at New Delhi on December 16,2010.



2. In my earlier articles before the visit of Wen, I had drawn attention to two instances of welcome Indian assertiveness against China----firstly, ignoring Beijing’s unhappiness over the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tawang in India’s Arunachal Pradesh earlier this year and secondly, attending the ceremony held in Oslo on December 10 to award in absentia the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese human rights activist now in jail in China, ignoring Chinese entreaties and pressure tactics not to do so.



3. A third instance of welcome Indian assertiveness could be read between the lines while analyzing the joint statement of December 16. The standard formulation that India adheres to the one China policy and recognizes Tibet as an integral part of China has been absent. The statement issued during Wen’s previous visit to Delhi in April 2005 had said: “The Indian side reiterated that it recognized the Tibet Autonomous Region as part of the territory of the People's Republic of China and that it did not allow Tibetans to engage in anti-China political activities in India. The Indian side recalled that India was among the first countries to recognize that there is one China and its one China policy remains unaltered. The Indian side stated it would continue to abide by its one China policy. The Chinese side expressed its appreciation for the Indian positions.”



4. The latest statement does not incorporate any such assurances to China. This is an expression of Indian unhappiness over the Chinese coming out in recent months in indirect support of Pakistani claims of sovereignty over Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, including Gilgit and Baltistan, while diluting its post-1999 support to Indian claims of sovereignty over Jammu & Kashmir. China’s reluctance to support us on the issue of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism is a fleabite. We need not lose sleep over it. But, its abandoning the neutral policy followed by it after 1999 on Indian and Pakistani claims of sovereignty over J&K has been a serious development with likely long-term consequences and it is time we made it clear that if China does not respect India’s territorial integrity, India is no longer bound to respect China’s. That is the hint that India has hopefully conveyed to Beijing by not agreeing to incorporate the usual formulations on the so-called One China policy and Tibet.



5. We should not stop with this. We should move further forward by having a second look at our Tibetan policy, including our interactions at the official level with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. There was a welcome surge in Tibetan demonstrations in Delhi during the visit of Wen. This is a hopeful indicator that in future Indian attention to Chinese sensitivities will be in direct proportion to Chinese attention to Indian sensitivities.



6. The bilateral economic relations continue to move forward. Contracts worth US & 16 billion were signed during the visit. It was decided to try to increase the value of bilateral trade from US $ 60 billion expected by the end of this year to US $ 100 billion by 2015. Unfortunately, the economic relations have been moving forward in a direction more favourable to Chinese than Indian interests. The adverse balance of trade in India’s disfavour ( US $ 19 billion) continues to increase despite repeated Chinese assurances to redress it.



7. China has benefited enormously from the bilateral economic relations. Expectations that this could render Beijing more amenable to solving the border dispute and more sensitive to India’s major concerns over the growing China-Pakistan axis continue to be belied. The China advocated policy of keeping the border dispute in cold storage while paying more attention to the economic relations is proving to be detrimental to India. Due to the uncertainties caused by Beijing in the Arunachal Pradesh sector by further developing its infrastructure in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region and by holding two exercises by the People’s Liberation Army (Air Force) in Tibet this year----one of them involving the suspected movement of missiles by the Qinghai-Lhasa railway and the other involving air-ground exercises with live ammunition at high altitudes by combined units of the Air Force and the Artillery--- India has been forced to spend more on the development of the infrastructure in the North-East. At the same time, the lack of progress in solving the border dispute in this area has come in the way of the economic integration of Arunachal Pradesh with the rest of India.



8. By increasing its presence in the Gilgit-Baltistan area, China has added to the strategic threats in our Leh-Kargil sector, which would necessitate greater attention to the development of infrastructure in this sector at a time when we still seem to be struggling to develop the infrastructure and our defence capabilities in the Arunachal Pradesh sector. Our reviewing our Tibetan policy could help us in the Arunachal Pradesh sector, but not in the Kargil-Leh sector facing Gilgit-Baltistan. A review of our interactions with the nationalist elements in Xinjiang in China and in Gilgit-Baltistan is necessary in this regard.



9. A sustained Indian policy of paying more attention to developments in China’s peripheral areas has to be an important component of our policy of assertiveness. In an article of September 9,2010, titled “ One India and One China”, I wrote as follows: “Our recognition of Tibet as an integral part of China and our acceptance of the one China policy of Beijing without a quid pro quo from Beijing in the form of acceptance of J&K as an integral part of India and of the One India policy have proved counter-productive. In our anxiety to avoid adding to the tensions and distrust between the two countries, we have let Beijing dictate what should be the nature of our interactions with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugees. We avoid open interactions with His Holiness and are not even prepared to associate him with the project to revive the Nalanda University. Better relations with China on mutually and equally advantageous terms and not on terms which favour China alone, but not India should be our policy. A clear message in non-provocative language has to go to Beijing that India has been disillusioned by the self-centred policies of Beijing and its lack of reciprocity in respecting our core interests. Strategic relations have to be a two-way traffic and based on quid pro quo. For China, they are a one-way traffic benefiting only its core interests. We should no longer accept this.” (http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers41%5Cpaper4026.html



10. Those observations still remain valid. That is the inevitable conclusion from the Wen visit.( 17-12-10)



( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

7 comments:

Esoteric said...

I agree with your comments, I think there are a few more things India could do to up the temperature.

- Start talking about recognising Taiwan.Forge stong economic ties with it..

- Negotiate a military base or a all weather basing station in South Korea..this is tricky but doable.In return,POSCO could get further access to coal..and sign a FTA with SKR.

- Remove internal travel and other restrictions to North East, including Arunachal.

- Impose taxes on goods imported from China and stop exporting raw materials.

- Allow US to use one small island in the Andamans as a naval station for the USN.

- Ask China to allow indian telecom operators to run ops in China if it wants its equipment to be sold here

Sarang said...

Just look at the infrastructure - Expressways and Bridges - built by the Chinese (Plz visit all the pages in the blog):

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=154903

Sarang said...

Infact, here is the frontpage of the blog...with all of China's infrastructure projects:

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/forumdisplay.php?f=804

nri2008 said...

Wen's visit, the inside story: Nothing gained, nothing given
Shishir Gupta Posted online: Fri Dec 17 2010, 16:25 hrs
New Delhi : Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao flew to 'all-weather friend' Pakistan from here this afternoon without neither giving anything away to India nor taking anything away from it except the message that the entire Indian political leadership across party lines was united when it comes to bilateral ties with Beijing.

Top government sources said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the Indian side from the front and decided to play hardball till Beijing paid heed to Indian concerns on Pakistan, Kashmir, bilateral trade and building a dam on River Brahmputra in Tibet. This resulted in the following:

a. Despite repeated requests, New Delhi made it clear that it would have no reference of the regional trade agreement (RTA) with Beijing in the joint statement and will not enter into any negotiation till such time the bilateral trade balance is corrected. When India decided to go for RTA with China in 2005 under pressure from the South Block, the total bilateral trade was $19 billion. Today, the trade deficit on Indian side is $19 billion alone as the bilateral trade will touch $60 billion at the end of this fiscal.

b. New Delhi decided to ditch any references to defence exchanges in the joint statement as it made it clear that it was Chinese unilateral action of giving a stapled visa to the Indian Northern Army Commander Lt General B S Jaswal which triggered off the deep freeze in bilateral relationship. It was made clear that till such time the policy of stapled visa to Jammu and Kashmir residents including Army officers posted in the state was not reversed, the defence relationship would be in the cold.

c. As Wen Jiabao refused to commit himself to addressing any Indian concern over stapled visas, Chinese projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba targetting India, New Delhi for the first time did not reiterate the One China policy. In fact, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had sounded off his Chinese counterpart in Wuhan on November 15, 2010 that Kashmir was to India just as Tibet was to China.

So behind the optics of a bilateral relationship with a great future, both sides held their ground with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh uncharacteristically doing some plainspeak to Wen Jiabao during the official arrangements. It was Manmohan Singh – who was briefed by Indian Ambassador to China S Jaishanker last Sunday on the visit — who raised the issues of Chinese projects in PoK, the Chinese dam on River Brahmaputra and stapled visa both in front of the official delegations and in private conversations.

Wen, according to sources, gave elliptical answers to both questions by saying that China was neutral to India and Pakistan’s issue on Kashmir and that Beijing was conscious to its international commitments on building an upstream project on the river. The Indian reply to Chinese position of neutrality was that if Beijing has nothing to do with Kashmir then why was it giving stapled visa to citizens from the state. The fact is that China started issuing stapled visas in 2008 but it was only in 2009 that New Delhi decided to take up the issue.

The other issue on which Wen Jiabao expected bilateral movement was an announcement on the beginning of negotiations on RTA between the two countries.

However, the Indian Commerce Ministry stood its ground and said that no headway in negotiations was possible till the trade imbalance was rectified. It was only towards the end of his visit that the Chinese Premier realised that the bilateral relationship between the two Asian giants was a long haul and this time Beijing would have to blink first.

nri2008 said...

Wen's visit, the inside story: Nothing gained, nothing given
Shishir Gupta Posted online: Fri Dec 17 2010, 16:25 hrs
New Delhi :

Top government sources said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the Indian side from the front and decided to play hardball till Beijing paid heed to Indian concerns on Pakistan, Kashmir, bilateral trade and building a dam on River Brahmputra in Tibet. This resulted in the following:

a. Despite repeated requests, New Delhi made it clear that it would have no reference of the regional trade agreement (RTA) with Beijing in the joint statement and will not enter into any negotiation till such time the bilateral trade balance is corrected. When India decided to go for RTA with China in 2005 under pressure from the South Block, the total bilateral trade was $19 billion. Today, the trade deficit on Indian side is $19 billion alone as the bilateral trade will touch $60 billion at the end of this fiscal.

b. New Delhi decided to ditch any references to defence exchanges in the joint statement as it made it clear that it was Chinese unilateral action of giving a stapled visa to the Indian Northern Army Commander Lt General B S Jaswal which triggered off the deep freeze in bilateral relationship. It was made clear that till such time the policy of stapled visa to Jammu and Kashmir residents including Army officers posted in the state was not reversed, the defence relationship would be in the cold.

c. As Wen Jiabao refused to commit himself to addressing any Indian concern over stapled visas, Chinese projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba targetting India, New Delhi for the first time did not reiterate the One China policy. In fact, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had sounded off his Chinese counterpart in Wuhan on November 15, 2010 that Kashmir was to India just as Tibet was to China.

So behind the optics of a bilateral relationship with a great future, both sides held their ground with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh uncharacteristically doing some plainspeak to Wen Jiabao during the official arrangements. It was Manmohan Singh – who was briefed by Indian Ambassador to China S Jaishanker last Sunday on the visit — who raised the issues of Chinese projects in PoK, the Chinese dam on River Brahmaputra and stapled visa both in front of the official delegations and in private conversations.

Wen, according to sources, gave elliptical answers to both questions by saying that China was neutral to India and Pakistan’s issue on Kashmir and that Beijing was conscious to its international commitments on building an upstream project on the river. The Indian reply to Chinese position of neutrality was that if Beijing has nothing to do with Kashmir then why was it giving stapled visa to citizens from the state. The fact is that China started issuing stapled visas in 2008 but it was only in 2009 that New Delhi decided to take up the issue.

The other issue on which Wen Jiabao expected bilateral movement was an announcement on the beginning of negotiations on RTA between the two countries.

However, the Indian Commerce Ministry stood its ground and said that no headway in negotiations was possible till the trade imbalance was rectified. It was only towards the end of his visit that the Chinese Premier realised that the bilateral relationship between the two Asian giants was a long haul and this time Beijing would have to blink first.

Esoteric said...

nri2008 - Wondering what would be India's next steps given that the Chinese side has agreed to step up investments in POK.

Its worth exploring, if India should allow Japan to invest in Arunachal Pradesh in infrastructure.If the Japanese were to ever agree to this it is now.This would be a reasonable tit-for-tat.

While the same policy can be followed in Ladakh and rope in some other similar minded partner.

Its no use to just talk tough and not follow up with actions on the ground.

balaji said...

Why cant India ever learn from the chinese,we dont have any political leader in the last 40 years with strong knees to proactively follow a foreign policy,they are simply reacting rather than proacting