India, US must see China as a partner, not a rival
Published: Nov 10, 2023 04:53 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The 2+2 foreign and defense ministerial dialogue between India and the US this week is very much designed to talk about China. The US is desperate to try to bind the Indian government and the Indian military in particular onto the bandwagon of the US in its extreme version of anti-China hostilities. 

India's ties with the US have grown steadily stronger on several fronts. The US and India have signed a military logistics agreement, meaning the US can, at any time, utilize the sea ports, airports, or other military facilities in India to deploy its military powers in India. And the US and Indian militaries have already conducted military offensive tactics together involving high-altitude regions.

If the India-US cooperation does not threaten the legitimate rights of any third country, there should be no problem. However, if India-US cooperation, especially on the military and security sides, would pose a threat to the legitimate interests of a third country like China, this would be a serious concern.

If anyone in Washington really believes that they can convince India and bind India to the bandwagon of the US, it will fail and end in disaster.

China does not view India as an enemy. China views India as an important neighboring country to deal with on equal terms. That is the right way to handle the differences between China and India. The mega trend between China and India should be to deal with each other as neighboring countries and as partners that can cooperate with each other. That's the reason why I call for peace between China and India. I would urge anyone in India not to view China as an enemy or a rival, and India should avoid engaging in military confrontation against China.

The US always acts in a cold war mentality and zero-sum calculation. However, people in India and the Indian government want to maintain their own independence. New Delhi has carefully preserved longstanding relations with different countries, including those deemed by Washington as enemies. Therefore, the US and India have completely different calculations for each other. 

India will eventually need to come to terms with the fact that China is an extremely important neighboring country. Now, the size of the Chinese economy is almost six times that of India. Deng Xiaoping once said, "Development is the hard truth." It is true for China. It is true for India as well. If India really focuses on development, China can be of great help. In spite of all difficulties involving the border disputes, China and India will eventually deal with each other as partners and neighboring countries, rather than losing their sanity and dealing with each other as rivals. 

Both the US and India should realize that China is neither an enemy of the US nor an enemy of India. China is a force for good, a force for peace and a major contributor to development. If the US really wants to enjoy robust economic development, it cannot do so without China. If India really wants to achieve a level of modernization, urbanization and industrialization, it cannot do so without China. China and India are such important neighboring countries. The Himalayas should not be what divides us. The Himalayas should be what unites us.

The author is a chair professor at Soochow University and Vice President of the Center for China and Globalization. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn