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Withstanding expansionism

Withstanding expansionism
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Ever since the skirmish in the Galwan Valley, there has been a strong resentment against China. Our martyrs have only strengthened our resolve to stand up against the expansionist neighbour. Though open for diplomacy, the Chinese have not retired from their forward positions. In fact, they have strengthened these positions at the LAC as corroborated by satellite images. Despite talks at the level of Corps Commanders and Foreign Ministries, the only kind of status quo is that of the stand-off between the two neighbours. It is, therefore, not surprising that calls for boycotting Chinese goods echo across the nation. A review of Chinese contracts and Chinese imports have also been initiated. To further harden its stance against Chinese aggression, India on Monday decided to block 59 apps linked to China. In its own capacity, the retaliatory steps initiated by India portray its intent with regard to the Chinese agenda. The banning of Chinese-origin apps may not be on the same scale as the military clash, yet it does convey India's protest. These apps can be conveniently flushed out of Indian markets relative to economic goods. The problem with the latter being that both our economy as well as our WTO commitments would be affected. Banning apps is likely to affect Chinese companies as their user base in India is quite substantial as per data; Tik Tok alone having 611 million total downloads. But this merely makes a dent. Unless we embark on a truly self-reliant trajectory, rejecting Chinese goods and contracts altogether, we will not leave the desired impact on China. While banning apps is a good show of intent, New Delhi must continue to put pressure on Beijing for its incursion in our territory.

The Sino-Indian military stand-off is not just significant for the two Asian powerhouses but the entire continent as well as the world. China is the world's manufacturer today. However, its expansionist policy has been well acknowledged owing to its exploits in South China sea, Indo-China border and the debt trap ploy across countries. India not only has the potential to emerge as an alternative manufacturing hub for the world, competing with the Chinese, but it can also check Chinese excesses by valiantly standing up to its military aggression in at the LAC. Already, India did not become a party to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Indian actions hereafter would be instrumental in shaping the trade bloc in Asia. Having refused to join the RCEP, India has kept its credentials clear of not supporting Chinese trade deals in any manner. Further aggression could also force an exit from the SCO and BRICS that have only produced a lukewarm impact on India's prospects. But just as India distances itself from the Chinese shadow, its reliance on trade channels with other countries such as the US will increase.

In the era of peacetime, such skirmishes at the border can snowball into trade stand-off and strained bilateral relations. Although these do not benefit either but as repeatedly mentioned, there can be no compromise with the nation's integrity and sovereignty. While India must brace the future challenge of being self-reliant, it must not lose sight of its neighbourhood other than China. With Pakistan hand-in-glove with the Chinese, India must not lose its other neighbours to Chinese ploy as has been the case with Sri Lanka for instance. The debt trap has already made Sri Lanka lose a port to China, giving the latter access to the Indian Ocean. It would be prudent on India's part to aid its neighbours through enhanced bilateral agreements and maintain the regional tempo. India's aid to the Maldives is a case in point. With India's expanding mobile manufacturing market, the trend should be extended to other products so that the bid to become self-reliant can be realised. This would benefit not just our exports and subsequently our GDP but our regional stand as well against an unkind neighbour.

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