We don’t need any cheap Chinese goods produced by poorly paid labour. The United States sold its consumer market to China for a song and has now become a debtor nation. India should be spared that agony. We don’t need cheap toys or, for that matter, cheap mobiles. We can manufacture them ourselves. There is an old Chinese saying: Respect the strong, blackmail the weak. India is not weak. It allows itself to get emotional, yes, and still seems to think as Nehru did of the time Asoka sent half a dozen Buddhist monks to China to preach Buddhism.
WHEN will India ever learn that China is one country that has a clear political aim in view and is not deterred from following it out of emotional considerations? Jawaharlal Nehru made a fool of himself and his death was hastened by China’s betrayal of his faith in it as a friend with which India had “centuries” of cultural relations. Now External Affairs Minister SM Krishna talks the same language. After inaugurating an exhibition of Chinese paintings in Delhi on December 23, 2009 Krishna said that he is “very optimistic” about the future of Sino-Indian relations, especially because “as two ancient civilizations and close neighbours, both countries have a long history of cultural contacts and exchanges”. There must have been loud laughter in Beijing at Krishna’s naivetté.
Only recently China decided to sell submarines and warships to Pakistan. Since 2005, Pakistan has ordered eight 3,000 ton F22P frigates from China and is now talking about acquiring 4,000 ton ships. Our eastern neighbour knows what to do to harass India. It is a ruthless country. Its arrogance is deliberately cultivated. One hopes that Shri Krishna has not forgotten that late one night in 2008 the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned then India’s Ambassador Nirupama Rao (now Foreign Secretary) to be read out a demarche on Tibetan activities in India—a poor show of diplomatic etiquette.
Then came the big blow when Beijing tried to block the Indians-US Civilian Nuclear Deal at the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) meeting also last year. In June 2009, China blocked an Indian move in the UN to declare the Pakistani Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s chief Hafeez Mohammad Saeed a terrorist on grounds that the evidence against him was not sufficient. This was a direct support to Pakistani terrorism. In recent times China has been trying to damn India as a “hegemonistic” State when, actually, the description fits China better, if not best. China has also been trying to build a wall between India and Nepal by making derogatory changes against India. Then a senior Chinese scholar and adviser to Beijing Government in a recent interview to a Kathmandu newspaper accused India of planning to ‘Sikkimise’ Nepal, saying that China will not stand by.
And one doesn’t have to remind Shri Krishna that China is opposed to India getting a Permanent seat in the UN Security Council with veto power, forgetting how strongly India fought for Beijing replacing Taiwan as the true representative to the Chinese seat in that same Council. Gratitude does not come easily to Beijing. It was Nehru again, in the first place who refused the same seat in the Council handed over to him on a platter way back in 1945, asking it to be given to China, then still in the throes of revolution. It can be argued that Krishna is very much aware of all these facts, only, he wishes to be a little diplomatic in describing Sino-Indian relations as one which is improving day by day. He is welcome to his delusions.
Reference thus is made to the fact that Sino-Indian bilateral trade has crossed the $ 50 billion mark and that China has become one of India’s largest trading partners. This is extremely misleading. India is selling not industrial goods but important raw material like iron and manganese ore, which is a crime. Our ores are our national assets and one should not, under any circumstances, sell them to any country, let alone China. We must think of India fifty to a hundred years hence when it may need those very ores so badly, only to find that they do not exist. Ores don’t, like mangoes, grow on trees. Once they are dug out and exported, they are lost for ever. India should plainly refuse to sell its strategic material of any consequence. Selling them to China is to inflict a wound on ourselves. Is that a wise or sensible thing to do? We are damning our long-term prosperity for short term gains.
Apart from all that we don’t need any cheap Chinese goods produced by poorly paid labour. The United States sold its consumer market to China for a song and has now become a debtor nation. India should be spared that agony. We don’t need cheap toys or, for that matter, cheap mobiles. We can manufacture them ourselves. There is an old Chinese saying: Respect the strong, blackmail the weak. India is not weak. It allows itself to get emotional, yes, and still seems to think as Nehru did of the time Asoka sent half a dozen Buddhist monks to China to preach Buddhism. We can’t—or won’t –imagine China as a modern state willing and ready to strangle India if it can. That alone will explain India’s lack of sophistication as Beijing works openly to create Pak-China-Nepal, Sri Lanka-China-Myanmar, Pak-China-Myanmar and Pak-Sri Lanka-China matrices.
Many of our scholars try to calculatedly impose a deep inferiority complex on India by glorifying China’s successes in the field of economic growth, just as they once did in running India down by talking of “Hindu rate of growth” derogatively. What we forget is that in China, the urban-rural income ratio has become increasingly desparate from a low 1.8 times in the mid-1980s to around 3.5 times now. According to TCA Rangachari, a former diplomat, writing in Dialogue (July-September 2009) the net income of about 400 million Chinese has fallen to 35 per cent from around 60 per cent in the 1980s. This is not to belittle China as much as to say that we don’t need to cultivate an inferiority complex vis-à-vis China. India has plenty to be proud about. We don’t exploit poverty to produce goods on low wages to sell abroad just to capture western markets, clever though that strategy may be.
That apart, what India should do is to implement its Look East Policy effectively and with a planned strategy. India is already getting closer to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam and showing positive results. Trade with ASEAN countries has grown from $ 2.4 billion in 1990 to $ 23 billion in 2005. India has more in common with Asian countries than China has and it must be tactfully exploited to mutual interest. Singapore, especially must be cultivated, for it is the gateway to the East and would itself be most happy to strengthen Indo-Singaporean relations. The point is that the message must go to Beijing that India cannot be taken for granted and that it may have to pay heavily for any attempt to hit at India. Being polite is part to diplomacy but being firm and stern is indicative of sound politics. Presumably Shri Krishna has learnt that from past history.