If Beijing wishes to work together for global growth, now is the time to opt for a psychological makeover and dial down border tensions.
Sriparna Pathak, Associate Professor, Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Chirayu Thakkar, doctoral candidate jointly with the National University of Singapore and King’s College London.
Recently, China’s top diplomat to India, Ma Jia, wrote that China and India can work together towards the recovery and growth of the world economy (‘A Focus on Common Interests’, IE June 2). It’s surprising that while the Chinese state-run Global Times churns out pieces critical of India day in and day out, an in situ top diplomat chose to write this. There is a noticeable pattern here. Whenever there are summits, where both India and China are participants — the BRICS meet for instance — we see such platitudes. The Indian establishment will be least enamoured by such statements. India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar has admitted that ties between both nations are not normal on more than one occasion.
Let us assume that Beijing indeed desires to work with India. The dissonance between this desire and China’s actions is vast. If Beijing means business, it should undergo a psychological makeover and inject a dose of pragmatism into its South Asia policy. Without such concrete steps, no amount of words will placate policy planners in New Delhi. Before both giants can think of driving global growth, they need to mend ties, and the onus lies squarely with Beijing. We suggest three things.
Indians feel that China’s India policy is driven by dogmas such as the Middle Kingdom and unipolar Asia. Indian archives indicate that since the 1962 Sino-Indian war, Sinophiles within the Indian establishment — T N Kaul, V V Paranjape, Jagat Mehta, K R Narayanan, among others— have held the view that China’s frontier aggression is driven by Beijing’s desire to cut India to size in Asia and the developing world. However, China’s dream of a unipolar Asia will never materialise.
Published in: The Indian Express
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