The recent intrusion by China into the Leh-Ladhak region of India is a topic of hot discussion for it affects the regional security as well as the tipping of the balance of power in favour of one or the other super powers. India’s quest to be a super power has many forces dragging it from becoming one. China remains the chief one dragging and yet lifting it up towards India’s goals.
It will be perhaps the first time in India’s electoral history where foreign policy will play a role even if it be a minor one. The Congress had quite some hoops to go through to show a strong international face to the electorate. China and Pakistan continually challenge the Indian Nation which prides itself on being non violent in philosophy while nourishing a martial character in having a military strong enough to take action. The gap in philosophy and capability perhaps sends different messages to the Indian public as well as the international community.
China is clearly driven by nationalistic goals and suffers from a deep insecurity that is expected of an totalitarian regime. Their international actions are brazenly pedestrian in nature, clamming up to dialogue and old fashioned.Their territorial claims lie in historical reasons and on disputable arguments.
On the other hand, defending against claims made by China seems to be the basis of India’s foreign policy. It has been true not to leave the thin path of being non-aligned. China clearly sees India in the US camp, while the US finds India a convenient yet incompatible partner. Then there is Pakistan which makes the whole issue a very complicated relationship.
Despite many detractors of India’s foreign policy, it is something to be lauded for achieving one thing consistently i.e. resolutely supporting a policy of non alignment and forging relationships to its benefit it. Much like China does on the economic front. Both these countries are regional hegemonies in their own right and their actions however benign affect the region..
Diplomacy has evolved into many new terms and relationships. There is a now a greater possibility of reaching solutions through dialogue than what was available in the 60’s. While rhetoric and breast beating may work in an Indo-Pak scenario, it is not the same with China.
Chinese intrusions are based on insecurity of the central regime, the alignment of India with Japan, the US and the Pacific nations. India has the capability and the importance of a regional super power, its alignment policy is relevant enough for China to be concerned.
The borders can be easily demarcated with current technology which was not available decades ago. The border issues are therefore just bargaining chips.
The Indian community of thinkers are divided in their approach to China relations. Over the years there is a pro-China camp that has evolved. It is a definite step towards improving relations. China along with Pakistan has been the cause of India’s defence spending escalating. India may have also been a reason for raising their budget. In the case of China their obsession and fear of US influence in North Asia is the key driver for their spending. Their aim is to be militarily stronger to dominate regional and later global issues. In order to achieve this goal they do need to have a global military capability to dominate the Indian Ocean to begin with. Pakistan facilitates its access of the ports and connecting the Xingjian to the Indian Ocean. Hence the strategic highway built decades ago which India can dominate from the upper glacial formations such as the Siachen .
This Chinese intrusion is well chosen and timed. Elections in India are looming, the Congress has been convenient for China when compared to the BJP. (One has to understand the similarities between the BJP and the Communist Central Party. Indian nationalism, expansionism and hard line approaches really challenge China. Also the BJP announced to the world that China is No 1 enemy).
Kargil was the last Pakistani gig to try to isolate the region. It failed. China cannot depend on Pakistan’s support entirely. Pakistan is moving towards democracy and hopefully will have governments who will have better relations with India after having bitter experiences in losing their sovereignty to all and sundry. This is no wishful thinking as situation in Pakistan will change in favour of new power paradigms. It is also possible that the radicals come to power democratically. The military is adequately radicalised and the newer generation of officers will think differently from Ayub Khan’s days. India might become an inconvenient friend from being a convenient enemy. Their progress lies in better relations with India. Much like Tibet’s is with China.
Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh’s visit to Japan is in the right direction as far as garnering support against China’s obsession with territory claims. China has many strings to bother from North Korea to the South China Sea; and the numerous neighbours.
It will make sense in forging relationship with neighbours rather than have conflicts with them. India must wear its Chanakya’s cap … the Chinese alas had buried their Confucius one!