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Allay Chinese fears

Allay Chinese fears
Highlights

Allay Chinese fears, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting China in May this year. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is already in Beijing.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting China in May this year. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is already in Beijing. India seems to be concerned with the rise of China in its immediate neighbourhood. Overwhelmed by the presence of a mighty military and economic power, India is groping for the approach to be taken towards China. Should India consider a competitive, often confrontationist, posture or pursue a complementary relationship with China? Successive Indian governments’ policies have fallen between these two goalposts. But, India has to reconcile to the fact that China is our neighbour with which India has serious border disputes. But, it cannot change this geography. Independent of Indian concerns, China continues to emerge as a global power. Despite its anti–China rhetoric, the NDA government seems to be appreciating this reality and decided to forge stronger ties with China and work for early settlement of bilateral border disputes.

India has three specific concerns with the rise of China. The vexed border dispute continues to be an irritant. It has manifested itself in different forms in the bilateral relations. The visa controversy, the unwarranted Chinese objections over Arunachal Pradesh, intermittent Sino–Indian armed stand –offs are a few such examples of irritants. Sushma Swaraj‘s statement that India is committed to finding an early settlement to the vexed boundary issue is a welcome move. Chinese increasing presence in India’s periphery is yet another concern for India. China has strong military relationship with Pakistan which India considers detrimental to its interests. Meanwhile, China is expanding its foot prints in Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal etc. The only way to counter this would be greater Indian magnanimity towards smaller neighbours. Many of our South Asian neighbours like Sri Lanka and Nepal still have a lot of suspicion towards India. India should initiate a proactive neighbourhood diplomacy to allay any such feelings.

China’s profile in Asia and across the world is growing. India need not be confused with reality on which it has no control. As Swaraj pointed out, the two nations should promote broad-based bilateral engagement, convergence of common regional and global interests, develop new areas of cooperation, expand strategic communication and fulfil common aspirations to usher in an Asian Century. This is possible as the Sino-Indian economic linkages are strong and continue to grow. India and China worked together in global trade, environmental talks to further common agenda.

China fears India is increasingly drawn by the United States into an anti –China axis that includes even Japan.
Prime Minister Modi’s diplomatically ill-advised remarks during his Japanese visit, references to South China Sea in the statements during the recent Obama visit have further strengthened Chinese apprehensions. India has to maintain strategic equidistance with China, US and Japan. It should aim at an optimum policy mix of engagement and balancing in its relations with China. This is challenging. But, it is pragmatic.

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