Chinese whispers, Indian aspirations
What began as murmurs in Indian and Chinese dailies have become hollers coming directly from the respective prime ministerial offices. With Li Keqiang, premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, calling upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi and confirming mutual cooperation, floodgates of hope have been opened. After the initial bouts of congratulation die down, however, Beijing and New Delhi have a lot on their priority list to toil over. On the face of it, China wants to forget what Narendra Modi had to say in his campaigns in Arunachal Pradesh as mere election rhetoric, but given the number of breaches of the Line of Actual Control in the past one year, a bit of caution from the Indian side wouldn’t be unadvisable. Yet, given the economic compulsions and the geostrategic contingencies, India and China, world’s two most populous countries supporting 2.6 billion people between them, need each other like never before. India desperately needs global capital to be pumped into its flagging markets, while China, a manufacturing behemoth, has exhausted its American and Far Eastern receptacles and is eagerly looking to increase its footprint in still volatile Indian economy. Moreover, China is expecting to enter free trade agreement with Sri Lanka and has thriving partnerships with both Pakistan and Bangladesh, which makes India, unless it makes the right noise and moves, the economic pariah. This, despite China being our biggest trading partner and with a valuation at USD 49.5 billion, according to latest estimates.
China and India, along with Russia, are already powers to reckon and can easily emerge as the next formidable triumvirate to challenge US-led Western domination of the global order. In fact, a long-term strategic cooperation between the trio could very well consciously uncouple the automatic correlation between markets and the West, since the promises of the future, decidedly look to be Eastern. Evidently, sectors like defence, space exploration and research as well as energy security, have bearing upon both the nations which are hungry for more power and are fast turning into biggest consumer markets in the world. A reciprocal relationship between New Delhi and Beijing would mean a cycle of reinvigorated ties between Mumbai and Shanghai, the respective commercial hubs and business centres of the countries. So, decoding Modi’s message to China and Li’s eagerness to respond with a cordial munificence can only indicate a definite upgrade for India in the bilateral ties. Not only is Modi unwilling to cower down in case of another incursion in Daulat Beg Oldi area, he’s going to be equally firm and proactive in bettering mercantile relations. Thus, the new PM is likely to walk the tightrope between ensuring India’s diplomatic honour in the global dais and bring about economic expansion, thus favouring trade over tradition at all times. The technocratic president of China Xi Jinping, therefore, has a lot to look forward to from Modi, provided he realizes that this potent cocktail of business and politics will go unchallenged as long as there is no infringement of peace and understanding from Beijing.