China-India: Sore Need of Trust for Productive Results

After the historical nuclear deal between India and the United States, the outcome of the recent visit by Japanese Prime-Minister Shinoz Abe in New Delhi can be a matter of concern for some countries for their own different reasons, and particularly the People’s Republic of China, especially in view of Japan’s willingness to work for the success of the Indo-US deal which experts in China see might further develop the quadripartite relationship among India, Japan, Australia, the US and others too.

In fact, the Indo-US nuclear deal is the milestones on the way of newly developing relations between the two; it has created a new equation at the global level in strategic as well as economic planes as both are now closely related to each other; and in such a situation China’s concern over the new development can be well understood as one of the experts in China also admitted, “We do not oppose India’s relationship with any country, but we have our own concern.”

India, the largest democracy of the world, is on crossroad to emerge as a super power. It has man-power, intellect and resources to go forward. Its economy is going well. Moreover, India can provide the biggest market to the world countries for their goods. That is why; countries like Australia, Japan or the US are continuously trying to strengthen relations with India in different fields. Even China too came forward in this direction; some steps which can be considered to be liberal in the process of improvement of relations between the two were taken, but the trust that is needed for productive results could not be established which can be perceived from some of the events occurred after starting a new process during Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Beijing in 1988.

The first among them was the denial by the authorities of the People’s Republic of China to Indian engineers expressing desire to visit the site in Tibet where a deep artificial lake was created by a landslide on the river Pareechu and which made the situation dangerous on the border areas of Himachal Pradesh [India] in August 2004. And that clearly indicated deeply rooted mistrust in their hearts. It was in middle of that month [i.e. August, 2004] when areas from Mandi, Kullu, Shimla, Kinnaur and Bilaspur districts in Himachal Pradesh were put on high alert following a warning that overflowing water from the above artificial lake in Tibet threatened flash-floods. Due to heavy rain, the lake was brimming continuously. So, it made the Indian side worried. Resultantly, engineers from the Geological Survey of India repeatedly requested the authorities of the People’s Republic of China to allow them to inspect the site to extend their co-operation to their Chinese counterparts and also to enable them to take some concrete steps in the matter, but they were not permitted to visit the site. Many Indians assumed this action of the People’s Republic of China to be improper, especially, when the People’s Republic of China again tried to raise the slogan of Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai [Indians and Chinese are brothers], talked of resolving all its disputes not only with India but also with others through the policy of accommodation and showed willingness to do business with them.

Secondly, after accepting Sikkim as an integral part of India during Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Beijing visit in 2002, showing again this territory of Sikkim as a separate nation in the maps by two magazines, published in the first week of September 2004 in the People’s Republic of China, further proved the above mistrust. It was also symbolical of frustration and an act of breaking word by the Chinese. In such a situation, i.e., Chinese frustration and a policy of breaking word and double standard, how would it be possible for Indians to improve relations with that country? It is a question and answer which has to be found by the people in power in the People’s Republic of China itself rather than others. Indian people – general and particular – both did not like publication of these maps by two magazines and many in the academic and educational fields considered it such a mischievous act of which the Government of the People’s Republic of China cannot absolve itself. They rightly argued that the People’s Republic of China was under Communist rule where no publication was carried out without the consent of the Government. Then, how could it be possible that some magazines published such type of maps? It was a clear indication of Beijing’s withdrawal from the commitment it made during Atal Behari Vajpayee’s visit to the City in 2002.

Further, Indians suspect the People’s Republic of China’s policy of extensionism and even take its recent move to build a road to the highest peak of Mount Everest to be a serious challenge to its security.

In fact, the above acts showed frustration of the People’s Republic of China and indicated its old policy of breaking it’s word; it created confusion in minds for which the Iron man as well as the maker of United India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had cautioned his countrymen. In this regard, particularly disagreeing with his comrade colleague and the first Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, he suggested the latter to make his stand clear with regard to relations with China. In his letter written to Nehru on November 26, 1949, Patel advised: “We must have a clear idea.” In failing to do so, Sardar Patel added further, “We should remember that the Chinese and their source of inspiration would not miss any opportunity of exploiting any of our weak points, partly in support of their ambitions.” And then in the year 1962, as the whole world knows, the extent of warning of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was justified.

Frustration and a policy of breaking their word, time and again, can never create an atmosphere of trust. If the People’s Republic of China is sincere to go ahead for co-operation and to do business or even if it is serious about resolving all disputes with India, which are inevitable to go ahead in this direction, it has to create an atmosphere of trust coming out of frustration and by giving up the policy of breaking it’s word by taking some productive steps. It is absolutely necessary. No nation of the world can make fools of, time and again, the people of another country in these days of mass awakening by adopting double standards. Also, merely some liberal steps taken to serve the purpose on particular occasions or showing flexibilities are not enough in this regard. Beijing has to understand it. If it fails to do so, no productive or welfaristic results can be feasible.

Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Dr. Ravindra Kumar is an eminent writer, Indologist, political scientist and a former vice chancellor of Meerut University, India, who authored and edited over 100 works on great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi and on various social-cultural issues.