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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Engaging The Red Dragon

Posted by: danish Ahmed 3:03 AM

This post is a continuation of a Twitter conversation  (not more than 2 to 3 tweets) i had with two of India's hottest and intelligent females, @gulpanag and @CelinaJaitly ,on the string of incursions into Indian territory by the Chinese forces.
Every time China flexes its muscle,we Indians go on an overdrive speculating everything from minor skirmishes to nuclear exchange. Strange as it may sound, this behaviour is quite expected. After all, India has never had a coherent China policy,starting from Nehru himself. However, as has been opined by most intellectuals, it is imperative that we come out of the shadow of  the 1962 aggression, but that does not mean that we close our eyes to the reality. To find a reasonable solution, we need to identify the problem first, something that is not very actively done in case of Sino-Indian relations. 
The genesis of India-China rivalry lies in a very fundamental law of physics which says that two masses cannot occupy the same space! As two biggest powers in the region it is but natural that they have vested interest in the neighborhood. It is not a question of ethics or morality but one of political compulsions.This stems more from the instinct of self-preservation rather than aggression, after all, the balance of power in the region is closely related to how well they have maintained their spheres of influence. Any two big powers would end up in similar circumstance but in the case of China and India, even if their deemed spheres of influence are too common to trigger conflict of interest, their distinct political ideologies further compound the equation.
This is very different from India- Pakistan rivalry, which is based far more sentiments than on pragmatism. This is one of the reason why the Chinese threat is almost always underplayed,it is very unlikely to whip up passion at the grassroots level.
These factors together make Sino-Indian conflict particularly complex, but how does one engage the Red Dragon?
 


Among the lessons learnt in last 50 years,an important one is that while China forced India to pull out of Pakistan in 1965 ( Apparently, Indian forces marching towards Lahore were called off after China mobilized troops on the border and asked India to stop the war on Pakistan 1 ) , it was much restrained in 1971 war, which came shortly after Porkharan-I. It is apparent that like all good communist dictatorships, the Peoples Republic of China understands the language of force. By force i mean deterrence and not applied force, the latter is unthinkable in present times.
But there are sufficient indications to believe that the Communist regime plays the game by the rule (the reference here is to games theory ) But the only game that China has really mastered, is the zero-sum game, as is evident from not only the 62 war but also from the Korean war and the Sino-Soviet conflict. It is also a game that India has not been a very good player of. Quite likely China's recent transgressions are its way of expressing displeasure at India's decision to allow Dalai Lama visit Arunachal Pradesh but then lack of appropriate response from India would be construed as weakness by any rational player. Both the states are mature enough to realize that armed conflict or even an escalation of rhetoric would be highly detrimental to the pace of development going on in their respective countries. But knowing  China, these incidences are likely to continue more vigorously if India continues  if India does not respond appropriately.       

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