Friday, November 24, 2006

Riding the Chinese Dragon

A few days back I watched Karan Thapar’s show “India Tonight” on CNBC-TV 18 which discussed Indo-China relations and the presence of Tibet in our “cold” relationship. It set me thinking as to why despite all this hype about our catching up with China’s economic growth, we act like a “banana republic” ( that maybe harsh but that's a more emotional statement) in our foreign and political affairs. The two most crowded countries in the world cannot sit across the table as equals because we act in such a subservient fashion with the Chinese.

China’s supreme dictator. Hu Jintao, recently stepped on the Indian shores and a few days before that, we heard not-so subtle statements, emanating from Beijing, on Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet. And what is our response? We issue a press statement reiterating that Arunachal is an integral part of India but do not even reprimand the Chinese ambassador, Sun Yuxi, who told Indian television last week: "The whole of what you call the state of Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory, and Tawang is only one place in it, and we are claiming all of that." How diplomatic can an ambassador get and how pacifist can we be?

The position of Tawang, on the flanks of the Tibetan plateau, and its cultural affinity to Lhasa are at the root of a decades-old dispute between India and China. Historically, China says, the region was part of outer Tibet. Today it is part of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh - but China lays claim to it in its entirety.

India's Foreign Minister tersely responded by reiterating that Arunachal Pradesh was an "integral part of India". The Chinese say that Tawang is a part of Tibet and since Tibet belongs to them, by extension of that logic, they have control over the place. Thousands of monks stay there as they try to sustain its unique culture from being marauded by imperialistic designs of Mainland China.

One of the primary tenets of democracy is the right to dissent peacefully but democratic India decided, last week, that this is dispensable. First, the police ordered Friends of Tibet activist, Tenzin Tsundue, to stay put in Dharamsala until Hu Jintao returned to Beijing. Then, the police asked Tibetan exiles to stay away from the city centre, fearing them to be a security threat - “Atithi Satkar” of the highest level that will surely make the Chinese happy.

Not only has the Indian Govt. accepted the Chinese claim of recognizing Tibet as a part of China, but it is also bending backwards to make them feel at home. Should a democracy like ours stoop to such levels to curb the rights of civil society, from protesting against Chinese aggression? Just imagine - I can protest against Manmohan Singh and Co. in New Delhi but not against Hu and his mandarins.

Our foreign policy follows a simple policy of status quo. Therefore, we neither do anything remotely out of the box nor stand up for anything (WTO was an exception) for fear of ruffling feathers. This does not bode well for a country standing on the threshold of world leadership and desiring to stand up for developing nations.

When ex-Defence minister, George Fernandes, proclaimed China as India’s “Enemy No. 1” a few years back, he was echoing the truth. But he was pilloried for raising the China bogey unnecessarily (India Today’s headline was “George in the China Shop”). While Beijing goes about wooing Africa and the rest of the world, building rail links with Tibet, supplying arms to Pakistan and fanning anti-India sentiments in Burma and Bangladesh, the Indian polity rests in peace, unaware of the changing geo-political realities that are dictating various foreign policies world-wide. We have no policy on Kashmir even after all these years, no idea how to tackle Bangladesh population infiltration and a total ignorance on the problems in the North-East.

Our home grown communists’ romance with China, however, continues despite all these “friendly overtures” by China. They are quick to pounce upon any human right violations of the rest of the world but silent when it comes to the Chinese. Our comrades refuse to break from the umbilical cord joining them to China, though there has not been any reciprocation of such interests from the other side. Wonder what Comrade VS and Comrade Hu have in common? Beijing has shed all pretensions of Marxism and gone capitalistic in a big way but messers Raja and Yechury continue to go gung-ho about communism.

Despite all their evident economic progress, China has a morally bankrupt leadership. It has built its wealth on the altar of thousands of coffins, without shedding tears for any of them. It is among the fastest growing economies but is also the world leader in death penalties with a conviction record of about 99%.A country that is so heartless that it steamrolls tanks to mow down thousands of its students, when they protest, cannot bring peace in the world.

I found this article in the Amnesty International Site (dated May 2003) which mentions that in an effort to improve cost-efficiency, Chinese provincial authorities have introduced mobile execution vans and the article goes on to give the advantages of this system over general execution systems!!! Economies of scale in mass murder!!! It would have been funny if it were just not so tragic and perverse.

It’s not just India but the entire world that stops shy of dictating terms to them. In business circles, Walmart, the world’s largest company, had to bow down to official dictates in China and allow the creation of trade unions there (their only trade union in the world). Google, the champion of free information, had to submit itself to censorship and remodel itself to survive in China.

Despite the Dalai Lama’s popularity and the entry of celebrities espousing the cause of Tibet, the movement is losing its steam and His Holiness has himself toned down his demand from “independence” to “autonomy” for the region. Its human rights violations may hog headlines occasionally but it has not stopped the Chinese juggernaut from rolling and crushing all its detractors on its way to capitalistic freedom.

Hu’s next stop is Pakistan where he’s expected to further the nuclear relations between the two countries by announcing the sale of nuclear reactors to them. The West knows this but remains a passive spectator while continuing to urge India to maintain restraint (as if we needed someone to say that). The American electorate did to Bush what the Iraqis could not but who will stop the Communist Party of China's hegemonistic plans???

Wonder if I am a bit too paranoid about the entire thing. The Chinese have a strong leadership unlike us and so I fear they may succeed. God forbids that this will be emulated else where as a workable administration model....


  1. The blog that u have written is awesome but the people in my class and whom I meet basically the Chinese are people who r all really the opposite of what u have written. They r good and support us all the time. May be when there is a diversity between the white and the brown skin then the Chinese support us rather. Coz the person who stood on election against me was an India but born and brought up here so considered a white skin. So it is somewhat contradicting to what u have written and Chinese people I find here as subtle quiet helpful and no way over powering. They look upon us for everything. Guide them, take them to places and the worst part is I spent 3 to 5 hrs of a week on advising the Chinese people who r felling homesick. Honestly this is not a joke. So may be after seeing them I am having a different point of view on the blog.

  2. Regarding your view about Chinese being opposite to what I have written, I have no points of disagreement with you. I condemn the Chinese leadership which is, in my view, morally bankrupt. The ordinary citizens of the country may have a diff. point of view and I’m sure they have but who has ever heard of public opinion in China. With so much censorship and human right violations, have you heard of any dissent in China? Maybe there is, but it is suppressed. I can condemn our leaders, throw them out of power by my vote and the press has full right to question issues here but in China, it’s all silent. After all, we share lots of wonderful things with Pakistan and the people there also want to do that but what is stopping all that is the leadership…

  3. what pradeep says is 200% correct - we should NUKE China - capture aksai chin back, destroy shanghai....amen ....vikram