A couple of years ago, Jairam Ramesh coined the term ‘Chindia’ to define the world’s fast growing economies. Together, they contain over one-third of the world’s population (nearly 2.7 billion). They have been named as countries with the highest potential for growth in the next 50 years in a BRIC report.
But a recent conflagration at the Doklam plateau, which is at the tri-junction of India, Nepal and Bhutan, shows the real story; it is here where Indian army soldiers jostled with Chinese soldiers and raised the standoff to a new level. The Pakistan-China bonhomie has only compounded India’s dilemma in terms of the larger national interest. The dragon is undoubtedly stronger than India in military might, even as the Chinese media plays mind games evoking the 1962 war in Tibet, with warnings about how “India must resist from crossing the line and not get adventurous.”
Even though Doklam is a disputed territory, the Chinese always manage to sneak in. In April this year, two Chinese helicopters reportedly managed to intrude into Indian airspace over Badrinath. The video of Doklam standoff is frightening because the Chinese appear to be more aggressive than the Indians. If guns were involved, I believe we would have more casualties on our side than Chinese.
After the standoff, the lack of action from news channels makes one wonder if the same would have happened had it been Pakistan instead of China. The media would have raised a massive ruckus, especially the ‘nationalistic’ patriotic news channels acting as mouthpieces of the Government. The radio silence may also mean that China is not good for TRPs, or that screaming at the Chinese, given their track record with us, is not advisable. Or just that spokespersons have nothing to say about China. No wonder Pakistan relies heavily on China which has blocked several of India’s moves to ban terrorists at the U.N.
Our modern world appears to be multipolar, with Europe and the US still leading globally. But it is the regional muscle flexing at play that the US seems to be wary of.
China scares India and Pakistan enjoys that. Chinese even scares the Japanese, who can defend themselves. But small countries like Taiwan can’t hit back when intimidated by China. No matter how hard we try, the dragon, with its accomplice, Pakistan, remains a necessary evil. We must deal with them and not tone down our diplomacy.
Why is that we are so muscular when it comes to Pakistan and timid when it comes to China? What we should do is engage with China more, since it is much more developed than us, and then isolate Pakistan if we wish to. India must know that the Arab world will always support Pakistan. Afghanistan is no longer a player – it is now a battleground. So any ‘support’ from their side is balderdash.
It is high time we rely less on the US to isolate Pakistan and work with our neighbours more. For China is a huge player in East and Southeast Asia. We must look beyond US-Pakistan as the core of our foreign policy even as the dragon continues to spit fire in the region.