Challenging China: The Tribune India
The first anniversary of the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers of the 16 Bihar Regiment, including its commander, Colonel B Santosh Babu, in the Galwan Valley clash with the People’s Liberation Army is marked by allegations of an apparent rupture Indo-Chinese relations. Since June 16, 2020, the utterly baffled Indian administration and commentary have been searching for Chinese strategic goals to rekindle the terrible memory of the 1962 defeat. Well, after a year you have to admit that the The Chinese goal was to establish Asian hegemony, to destabilize Indian rule in South Asia, to point out the limits of American power and therefore the futility of Quad – and to continue to remain the most important in India. commercial partner. Have the Chinese achieved their goals? If we assume that trade is the main determinant, then the answer should be yes.
Despite the Galwan clash, the Chinese increased their share of the Indian smartphone market from 71% to 75% in 2020, thus conclusively refuting the theory that the lure of the Indian market would have a chilling effect on military prosecutions. Chinese. In fact, it is now the Indian market that is dependent on Chinese telecommunications instruments, electronic instruments, consumer components and goods, computer hardware and peripherals, and pharmaceutical ingredients. The latest trade figures released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry show that we imported $ 65.21 billion worth of goods from China in 2020-2021, topping the rankings, while our US imports weren’t even half that value at just $ 28.86 billion. Of course, we export more to the United States and therefore have a trade surplus, but the $ 45.9 billion trade deficit with China tells the real story of our reliance on Chinese manufacturing.
Even when our import bill fell about 17 percent, Chinese goods as a share of our total imports only increased in the year of the deadlock on the real line of control. No wonder the Chinese believe India has no choice but to swallow its pride, heal its wounds, and pursue Indo-Chinese commerce to ensure that our digital economy, our telecommunications connections and our terminals IT systems stay connected and work. In fact, it is high time that Indian economists began to take a close look at the generational losses the country has suffered in thwarting its manufacturing by entering the World Trade Organization regime played by American investors and Chinese manufacturers. As China has emerged as the global manufacturing hub over the past two decades, India has been reduced to a glitzy global trading hub buying cheap Chinese goods and staying happy.
But then, bilateral trade is not the only determining factor; and the Chinese perception of the Indian reaction is not entirely correct because India had, at least in the last decades, completely forgotten about the debacle of 1962 and began to believe in a benevolent China. India’s security apparatus has always cared about its western neighbor, believing that China is a friend. Even this writer, as recently as 2018, wanted to believe that India could remain a swing state in a simultaneous and mutually exclusive opportunistic relationship with the United States and China. This is what the Indians wanted to believe – that a growing China would not be a threat but could actually help us to grow. Doklam was the first shock, which India did not understand, then came territorial aggression in Ladakh. With the death of these 20 brave men, India began to understand Chinese conceptions.
Finally, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor from Gwadar to Xinjiang has started to have a military meaning as we confront the Sino-Pakistani arc in the Doklam subcontinent in Gwadar. Added to this is the maritime arc from the port of Gwadar to the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka to the third largest port in Bangladesh, Payra, which is developed by the Chinese. Reuters reported in 2014 the docking of a Chinese submarine and a warship in the port of Colombo, where China is currently developing the Colombo port city project on reclaimed land. The encirclement of India by China is a reality which imposed itself on the Indians thanks to the martyrs of Galwan.
Once we recognize the land and sea arcs for what they are, there are two ways to respond to this encirclement: accepting China as a superpower while trying to play the opportunistic swinging game between them. two global superpowers competing for investment, military concessions and regional peace; or a complete rejection of Chinese hegemonic claims in the neighborhood and an attempt to build itself as a counterweight that the world would respect. The nascent Indo-Pacific alliance becomes crucial in this context. But the problem here is the complete lack of self-confidence: let alone retirees in the United States or Europe, how many Indians would be willing to invest their savings in Indian businesses?
It is not easy for a society in which the rule of law is becoming more and more arbitrary to convince itself and others of its fate. For example, anyone wishing to invest in northern India should consider the satellite cities of Delhi, Noida or Gurugram, as prime destinations; but then, what would they see? Auto-rickshaws parked in the middle of a flyby, rickety buses stopping where they want to, from “driving on the wrong side” (a contribution by Gurugram to the English language) to lynching of cows, civic unrest, police cases against journalists and the threat of eviction to digital companies like Twitter. All of this is not going to attract the fleeting dollar, which has easier and better destinations. Unless we reconnect to tap into Anglo-Saxon economies and rekindle our manufacturing dreams, we risk being stuck in the Sino-Pakistani military corridor. It’s also time for reflection for all those WTO champions who have ridiculed local manufacturing, wondering why India should reinvent the wheel – well, if you don’t have your own wheel, you will be crushed under that of the neighbor.