The relationship should be based on reality. Neither of the nations should forget that the other would not give up its strength. What belongs to India is Indian and what belongs to China is its strength. Indian strength is its apparent economic homogeneity among the riches and the middle classes as induced by Anglicization and Westernization. Chinese homogeneity of race, color and language is far more fundamental and is its biggest strength. On the flip side, India lacks decision-making as good as that by China while China does not have democracy.
The fact is that improved Indo-Chinese relations help improve the stability in Asia and beyond. But then they cannot be improved beyond a point. What India and China can agree is to resolve all the differences through peaceful negotiation and they can also sign a no-war pact. But China has an edge over India and most likely it is permanent. Chinese started seeking investment from the US since late seventies of the last century. India tried it in early nineties. Hundreds of millions of Chinese have been alleviated from poverty because of this economic step taken by Chinese Politburo. The same is true for India but not to that extent. The fact is that foreign investment has done a great service to China. But then Chinese state is becoming more hawkish by each passing year.
China is doing what it is supposed to do. Shouldn’t a nation labeled as the heir-apparent to the US show hawkish behavior in economic and military matters? The fact is if parity-purchase power (PPP) be a factor then China has already taken over the US economy. With increasing GDP the contributions of American and other foreign companies increase significantly but no nation subtracts them. This is the way GDPs are calculated. The US investment is majorly responsible for the hyper-inflation and hyper-nationalism in China. But then only the US knows the reality, others can only conjecture. The effect to the outside world is real, most notably for India.
On its part India should convey to the US through diplomatic circles that part of global economic inflation should be borne out by China. Indian elites anyway happily admit inflation as part of their lives. Also, Chinese imports should increase. The road to Beijing from New Delhi goes through Washington but there is no road to Shanghai from any Indian city through any intervening city. That is the most important thing that Indians need to remember when granting trade concessions to Chinese. As far as resolving border dispute is concerned, the mantra of asymmetric but equal relations (AER)—whereby India would accept China as more powerful but China would grant it equality on surface because of its size and absolute power, should be applied.
Comparing Chinese with Indians rests on the level of homogeneity between the two nations. Investors usually invest in the most productive markets. They invest in majorities and conforming minorities. That is why the investment is more directed towards China than towards India. India cannot go to the right on chauvinism scale and make economic progress. This is true both because of internal and external reasons. The path for India is 5 pc shift to the Left from the Center or 10 per cent shift to the Right from the Center at the most.
India cannot emulate Chinese chauvinism which can be simultaneously Leftist and Rightist. The beauty of China is that it does not have Center but the Left and Right interact in such a manner that many times China appears to be Centrist. This is particularly true in relation to Western investors. Should India try to do so, Indians would suffer economically. The best hope for India could be that China dilute its hyper-nationalism somewhat and view India from Centrist eyes. This may be all required change in China—nationalism in China cannot go to the point of people demanding democracy. India on its part should always view China from Centrist viewpoint whichever coalition is governing New Delhi. As a diplomatic maneuver India should try to decouple Indo-Chinese relationship from Pakistani-Chinese relationship.
There are measures to define whether the relationship between India and China are positive or not. As long as China does not accept English as ‘other language’ and it continues to compete with the US beyond a level, there is not much hope for improved Indo-Chinese relationship. China should be a thankful nation; it owns a lot to the West, particularly to the US. It needs to prove to the world that it would not support ‘cultural, ideological and institutional parallelism’ beyond a point and also that it would not indulge in initiating a newer cold-war: war between the West and Russia-China-Islam combine. Sure, the world has become more inter-dependent than during the first cold war and polarization would not be that easy and it would be costly too.
Chinese hegemony should not have place outside East Asia though it can influence any region that it wants. Outside East Asia China should use English and Western concepts. India should try to stop Chinese parallelism more than to contain China with the help of the US. On its part China should accept feminism and should support Buddhism as much as it allows Christianity to take root inside China. Chinese should have less nostalgia for Confucianism. It would help them evolve in a better way.
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