OPINION / ASIAN REVIEW
Is India led astray by radical scholars?
Published: Jan 20, 2021 12:29 PM

Photo: GT



Some Indian scholars recently suggested that India should play the "Tibet card," cooperate with the US on the Tibet question and use it to contain or publicly oppose China. 

For example, Indian geostrategist Brahma Chellaney on January 13 said that "America's Tibet law should spur New Delhi to reclaim lost leverage on China," suggesting that New Delhi should "stop endorsing China's stance on Tibet." Former Indian diplomat Deepak Vohra on January 9 even wrote in an article that "If Tibet goes its own way, China will either break up or dump Communism, and the world will be a safer place."

Tibet is a part of Chinese territory, and the Indian government has recognized this for a long time. If New Delhi follows the advice of these scholars, China-India relations will be completely broken. New Delhi will be instigating a war. In fact, India has not given up playing the "Tibet card" to make troubles for China, or gain benefits for itself. The so-called Tibetan government-in-exile is hosted in India, and the Tibet question is a major crux of China-India relations.

But currently, even some top Indian strategic elites do not have a profound understanding of the actual Tibet question. By playing the "Tibet card," some Indian people want to force China to recognize Kashmir as a part of India. They have never realized how sensitive the Tibet question is for China-India relations. These people are playing with fire.

In fact, China can make many countermoves if it wants to. But generally, we disdain to use these measures. For example, Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed territory. China will not unilaterally recognize that it is a part of India as New Delhi hopes. This is, in fact, a very unreasonable request. Besides, India itself has many thorny issues, such as religious issues and the armed separatist factions in Northeast India. Beijing disdains to put pressure on New Delhi with these issues. 

Many opinions of these Indian scholars are in line with the US' political position. With India's national strength, it cannot win in a war to oppose China. India needs to think this matter over: What benefits will it get if it collaborates with the US to create troubles for China? In the end, New Delhi will only be pulling the chestnuts out of the fire for Washington. India will find itself a cannon fodder at last.

In addition to playing the "Tibet card," Chellaney and some other Indian scholars have tried to follow the US' suit to oppose China in other aspects; such as the economic decoupling with China. Chellaney, who has always made harsh and extreme remarks against China, said in December 2020 that, "another likely dimension of India's new China strategy will be to pursue a managed and selective economic decoupling." 

In fact, India has been trying to implement such a strategy for the past year. In April 2020, India tightened investment rules for companies in neighboring countries to prevent "opportunistic takeovers." After the Galwan Valley clash last June, India started its series of acts against China. This egregiously included banning Chinese apps in the country.

And look at the results. Chinese products took 18.3 percent of India's total imports from April to September 2020, up from 14.6 percent in the same period in 2019, according to India's Department of Commerce. If China does not export to India, some related industries in India may die. Chellaney and his likes are completely irresponsible, lying through their teeth. Chellaney has been using anti-China gimmicks to gain attention.

Whether it is the "Tibet card" or economic decoupling with China, these Indian scholars are just playing the role of some forces' microphone. They have created such kind of public opinion internationally and in India. This has done great harm to China-India relations. 

We need to pay more attention to the unsavory elements behind them. These forces look forward to the complete breakdown of China-India relations. Speaking for these forces, the above-mentioned Indian scholars preach a blind arrogance about India. And India is now being led astray by such sentiments and extreme forces of Hindu nationalism.

The author is secretary-general of the Research Center for China-South Asia Cooperation at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, visiting fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China and distinguished fellow of the China (Kunming) South Asia & Southeast Asia Institute. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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