Millennium Post

Tricky relations

As far as noises go Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making all the right ones, however the Chinese seem disinterested in his friendly overtures. He recently logged on to the extremely popular Chinese social networking site’ Sina Weibo’ in order to reach out to the wider Chinese community. Ironically, as soon as he created a profile on ‘Sina Weibo’, he was told by a bunch of online users that Arunachal Pradesh was and should be a part of China. This anecdote succinctly summarizes the thorny relationship between India and China. However this is not an all encompassing analysis of the India-China equation. For one  the two countries are inextricably linked through trade and economics. The establishment in Beijing has indicated time and again in the past few days that it is looking forward to stimulate its slowing economy. One of the ways in which its looking to do this is through trade intensification with neighboring countries, especially India. There is more than enough energy present in China and India’s respective economies for the to grow together faster and if possible together. Preliminary talks have indicated that China will discuss a mutual agenda of common development during Modi’s visit. A basic underpinning of China’s strategic doctrine has been to manage its borders, whether they be virtual, economic or geographical. In other words China has for long viewed India as a potential nuisance and possible competitor. However it must be stated that China’s hegemonic ambitions can’t be ruled out in this equation. Would trade intensification with Beijing mean that India would end up being a mere exporter of raw materials? India must focus on sorting out trade positions with its ambitious neighbour rather than inadvertently end up becoming a feeder economy. Given that trade intensification is just one aspect of the wider jigsaw puzzle that is Indo-Chinese relations, the mandarins of South Block must burn the midnight oil to draft a clear agenda and talking point for Modi’s visit to China. Rather than shying away from contentious points and focusing on public relation initiatives, Modi must try to confront the thorny issues head on. He should try and have a tough discussion on Chinese assertions on Arunachal Pradesh being a part of “Southern Tibet”. Understandably this is a risky proposition no doubt. Nevertheless India must stop playing the deferential partner and arrive at the table as a rightful equal. Modi’s trip seems like it lacks the required preparatory work needed to make a visit qualify as a success. Moreover will his trip be able to advance the agenda of a much more stable and balanced relationship between the two superpowers? Would Modi be able to address core issues during this trip? All indications suggest that the preparatory ground work for the trip has not been done. A half-baked cake does not taste well, neither does a half-hearted foreign trip like this. Trade intensification may be the only takeaway from this trip.
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