best option

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 03 Jun 2018 10:11:52


PRIME Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has made a correct observation that unnecessary rivalries in Asia will hold the region back, but cooperation among nations will take the region forward in every sense. In the same statement, Mr. Modi also insisted that India and China must work together to take the regional interests forward. The criticality of the Prime Minister’s statement can be understood correctly by the fact that he chose the platform of Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore to air his views. In his keynote address, Mr. Modi also expressed satisfaction that he sees and senses a greater maturity of late in the relations between India and China. 

Of course, mere statements are never going to mend matters particularly between India and China as China has often followed a blow-hot-blow-cold policy as regards India. At times, the Chinese conduct themselves with utmost maturity, while at other times, they start behaving almost like a bully, refusing to listen to reason and unwilling to cooperate even on small issues. Yet, the fundamental importance of Mr. Modi’s statement is immense to promote a larger Asian perspective in which all the nations are included. It is necessary for the nations of Asia to understand the importance of mutual cooperation if the region’s economy is to prosper and is used as an instrument to hold communities together. This was the refrain of the Prime Minister’s address.

On a couple of occasions in the past eight years since the visit of President Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil to China, the Chinese leadership did talk of cooperation. It also offered a new approach to standing together by referring to the populations of the two nations together as the greatest demographic advantage India and China had. The Chinese also talk of the two other connects -- besides populations -- between the two countries, land and water. But even in those outward expressions of togetherness, the Chinese had a hidden agenda. Particularly as regards sharing of river-water, the Chinese were trying to hide their intention of usurping a greater share of the water of river Brahmaputra on which China had already started construction a dam purposefully oblivious to Indian interests. At that time, India had responded positively to the Chinese statements, but realised soon that the Chinese had suspect intentions.

But as Mr. Modi now talks of India and China working together, he is ready once again to offer a hand of friendship to the adversary. This statement appears logical in the wake of the informal summit he had had with Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping at Wuhan in China. That summit did create an atmosphere of optimism in India that the age-old hostility between the two Asian powers would now be on the wane. Of course, one of the purposes of diplomacy is also to build positive bonds and reduce hostilities in the larger interest of cooperation between national communities. India is certainly following that route, which became clear at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore when Mr. Modi made the historic statement.

Despite all the positivism, India will have to be doubly cautious while dealing with China. History of Chinese diplomacy is dotted by its deceit, and India can only ill-afford to lose sight of that reality. No matter that ugly dimension, India will also have to continue with its effort to strengthen reasonable ties with China.