India should not make a bad situation with China worse

By Li Hong Source:Global Times Published: 2020/7/5 20:39:56

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

As an emerging country in South Asia, India relies on geopolitical peace, as well as investments and know-how from its giant northern neighbor China, to grow its still backward economy. But apparently there are not many visionary strategists in that country. 

What New Delhi has done in the past year and a half is to consistently ramp up border tensions with Pakistan, Nepal and now, China. From the Doklam border standoff in 2017 to the recent deadly border scuffle in the Galwan Valley, India has displayed a pattern of disturbing frontier stability and ruffling the feathers of China. 

To the frustration of many Chinese people, Indian leadership even bluntly refused China's good-intentioned proposal to keep forging close win-win and friendly relations between the two emerging Asian giants, so that vast swathes of the Asian continent could stay peaceful and the billions of inhabitants here could benefit economically.

Seduced by the current US government's "Indo-Pacific" plot - which aims to encircle China geographically and stifle China's rise by any means - Indian leaders seem to have taken the bait and followed on the heels of Washington by hamstringing this country.

New Delhi has gone too far by saying "no" to the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative to help revamp its poor infrastructure. Furthermore, it has constantly slung mud on China's infrastructure investments in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Pakistan. 

After the Galwan Valley border clash on June 15, India started to ban Chinese investments and high-tech innovations, bringing hefty revenue losses to Chinese apps like WeChat, Weibo and TikTok. 

Following in the footsteps of the US government and the US' close ally Australia, Indian government ministers said they are thinking of taking measures to ban China's Huawei and ZTE from building its 5G telecommunications network.

A top Indian government official announced a couple of days ago that banning a total of 59 Chinese apps is an Indian "digital strike" that will send a political message to China. 

For sure, we Chinese people have got the message that India aspires to become deeply entangled with the US to promote the so-called "Indo-Pacific" scheme to encircle and gang up against China, in New Delhi's veiled attempt to be accepted by Washington one day as a "full-fledged US ally".

According to recent Indian media reports, New Delhi is sending military reinforcements and armored tanks and artillery to the disputed Himalayan border frontiers with China, foolishly and dangerously escalating the tensions there. The risk of a military skirmish or a hot war is growing. 

Obviously, Indian government strategists, if any, lack political foresight and vision to wisely position India and develop the country. By leaning to the seemingly more powerful US, politicians in New Delhi are delusional in believing that India could act as a pawn to Washington, and help it check and curb China's rejuvenation in the 21st century.

By alienating and antagonizing China, Indian leaders could put their country's economic future in serious peril.  

As a matter of fact, China has leverage or options in its hand to inflict immediate economic pain on India, because China is far less reliant on India's market than India is on China's.

If New Delhi stubbornly discriminates Chinese enterprises investing there or intentionally disrupting the import of Chinese goods at ports, Beijing could retaliate by reducing or completely cutting off crucial supplies of auto components, textile materials and active pharmaceutical ingredients to restrict India's major industry productions. 

Also, it is ludicrous for India to drive away high-tech Chinese companies. Without precious Chinese investment and technology innovations, India's economy can hardly sustain its growth. 

Seen from a different perspective, India shoots itself in the foot by choosing to accelerate border tensions with China and inflaming anti-China public sentiment, as Chinese businessmen will shudder at the thought of worsening bilateral relations and leave the Indian market. 

Now it's time for Indian leadership to ponder the outcome of continuously antagonizing China. It should not make a bad situation worse. 

The author is an editor with the Global Times.


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