China pushes hard

That soft diplomacy never pays is best displayed by the India-China story on the issue


Posted By : OnlineDesk

The chances of India getting into the NSG in the near future appear weak despite the fact that the US has publicly committed to make India a member.

As a result of India's strident stand against China on many issues, the Communist nation is sullen with India and not going to yield easily on India's NSG bid.

Many observers believe that despite China's hard position against India, Modi is building up enough pressure on China to get a good bargaining position with it in the times to come.

But this view is severely contested by another set of observers who think China is too commanding in every way to allow India any bargaining power.

According to Daniel Twining, a foreign policy expert and director for Asia at the German Marshall Fund of the US, Modi is making all the right moves in the diplomatic arena, including in developing the India-US relationship vis-à-vis China.

As he puts it: "Modi is demonstrating the right vision against the backdrop of the emerging Chinese hegemony, the Russian stance and the growing terror threat."

"India and the US together can be great pace-setters. But to realise India's full potential in the international arena and against China, Modi has to raise India's woefully low defence spending of around 1.62 per cent of its GDP and take it at least beyond 2 per cent at a time when countries like the US spend 4 per cent on defence."

Walter Anderson, an expert on India at Johns Hopkins University who has studied the growth of the RSS, observes: "The most important factor in Modi's diplomacy is the recognition he has given to trade, which is reflected in the highest-ever FDI he has secured for India."

"He has made the right approach to the US, but he has to realise that getting closer to the US and signing the communication agreement could distance him from China beyond redemption."

But few would contest the observation that Modi's China diplomacy signals a great change in India's attitude towards that nation -- from a defensive posture maintained over several decades to that of equal, controlled aggression.

India's approach to China has so far been marked by a meek kind of diplomacy where the big brother could take undue liberties with the younger brother who found himself powerless to act.

The Indian approach to China was based on platitudes like 'good brotherly relations' -- denoting a soft diplomacy, which, in the parlance of foreign affairs, rarely succeeds when not backed by hard power, particularly against a ruthless China.

The effort so far has been to engage China on a moral high ground at the cost of hard deal-making, which involves deterrents and checkmating moves.

That soft diplomacy never pays is best displayed by the India-China story on the issue of a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

In the early 1950s, when the US wanted India to be a permanent member of the council, India backed the Chinese claim to the seat despite severe opposition from many Western democratic powers and in spite of the fact that the Chinese had already intruded in Tibet.

Today, one of the main factors in the way of India becoming a permanent member in the UN Security Council is China's hostility.

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