India - China: Countering China
External Affairs Minister Shankar Tuesday once again blamed China for the tense situation between the two countries and called out the country for disobeying the pact. "We had agreements with China not to mass forces in our border areas and they have not observed those agreements, which is why we have currently tense situation. We had an agreement not to unilaterally change the line of control, which they have tried to unilaterally do," ANI quoted the minister as saying.
Jaishankar had earlier asserted that India will not agree to any attempt to change the Line of Actual Control (LAC) unilaterally by China as he underlined that New Delhi's relations with Beijing are "not normal" and there would be no compromise on core issues.
Indian and Chinese troops clashed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh on December 9 and the face-off resulted in "minor injuries to a few personnel from both sides”.
The two countries have held 17 rounds of talks so far to resolve the standoff.
China fine tuning its foreign policy
Taking a view beyond India, China’s present strategy appears to be seriously looking at fine tuning its foreign policy in the wake of the economic pressures that the new covid crisis is presenting.
At the moment, writes Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr (Senior Journalist) “China wants to play its cards carefully because it is not yet in a position to challenge the US either economically or militarily, and its alliance with Russia is not of much help. And China does not want a confrontation with the West…..China’s economy is more integrated with the global economy than that of India, and it wants the European Union (EU) and American global supply chains, connecting China to the West, to continue. While the Americans want to loosen their economic dependency on China by shifting some of their businesses to countries such as India and Vietnam, the Europeans are in no hurry to move away from China.”
It is therefore, argues Rao Jr. “not surprising that whatever may be the sabre-rattling that Xi may want to indulge in, other Chinese leaders and policy wonks are quite aware that China’s economic power rests on the global economy.”
India must think of China in a larger context
This would mean that “India must think of China in a larger context than in terms of the border dispute. There is no overlooking the irritants that China created through its episodic incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), but they must be seen as irritants, and to deal with the Chinese, India will have to spend quite a lot on its military infrastructure along the border. And China would remain a thorn in India’s side through its unqualified support to Pakistan.”
But, argues Rao Jr. “the relations are less likely to deteriorate into a war-like situation whatever the hardline strategy experts in India want to predict. The reality is that China is militarily vulnerable despite its impressive economic strength and it is unlikely to fight a full-fledged war with India because it would not gain any advantage by doing so.”
The question, asks Rao Jr “is whether India should consider China a big threat or a big competitor. The US is inclined to pit India and China against each other……” But the fact io that “China does not consider India a factor in its global perspective, and it considers the US as its main concern.”
The way forward
In the circumstance, the suggestion is that “India has to carve out its own niche in world affairs, but without using China as a reference point. And a way of tackling the prickly relations between the two countries is to let the trade ties between India and China grow, and the interlocking of economic interests should attain strategic status.”