Sunday, July 14, 2024

India’s Nuanced Approach Towards China Under S. Jaishankar

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Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar has described ties of Indo-China as being “very difficult”, dealing with the dragon will require a nuanced approach

“Hindi-Chini, bhai-bhai” was what former Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru described India-China ties. However, his excessive exuberance in the robustness of Indo-China ties proved to be short lived as he faced the Chinese betrayal in 1962. Indo-China, however, over the years have grown with border skirmishes being a routine matter. However, it is only in the second innings of the Modi government which saw ties with China experiencing quite a strain. In fact, the Galwan clash in June 2020 in eastern Ladakh, followed by the heavy deployment of armed forces along eastern Ladakh and other friction points in J&K and Arunachal Pradesh highlight that all is not well in Indo-China ties.

Having said that, it is ironic to see, that India-China commercial ties continue their robust northward trajectory, with China still remaining the second biggest bilateral trade partner of India with a two-trade of over $100 billion.

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However, what is necessary to note is that the trade balance is not in India’s favour. India has a $72 billion trade deficit with China, and its increasing day by day.

It is therefore necessary to apply a nuanced approach to the China challenge.

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Dealing with the Dragon

China is not Pakistan, just like killing the king of the Olympian Gods Zeus in the God of War III game required seeking out the flame of Olympus and destroying it, so does in the case of China. In this case, it is the need to deal with China economically, especially manufacturing in semiconductors, artificial intelligence, big data and other emerging critical technologies. India is aggressively trying to do just that with the Performance Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, designed to woo investors from big industries to invest in the Make in India story. That is certainly working as Apple CEO Tim Cook opened the second I-Phone store in Delhi and Tesla is actively considering establishing a manufacturing base in India.

Further, the bolstering of India’s defence preparedness is of utmost importance, this is especially making available state of the art equipment down to the last man in the armed forces, promoting defence exports and reducing defence imports. The government of India is working in that direction with fiscal year 2022-23 raking up the highest defence exports ever achieved on record. Further, the union government has made available a list of essential defence items whose imports have been banned, this is aimed at boosting the domestic production of those items. At the same time strengthening defence collaboration with our allies is necessary. This is evident from India strengthening cooperation with the US in joint manufacturing of fighter jet engines, with HAL and other US operators being at the forefront of such collaborations.

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Next, India needs to be mindful of Chinese Confucius institutes and internal enemies. It would be foolish on India’s part to underestimate China’s influence in our country, especially when there is a distinct possibility of Beijing’s hand in the recent Manipur violence. Indian intelligence and diplomatic officials must be on their guard to detect any possible foul play.

Conclusion

India, therefore must tread a bit carefully and must be cautious while dealing with China. It must adopt a nuanced approach to deal with the dragon.

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