March 16, 2015

China worried as Modi deftly brings US-India relationship back on track

As expected the most wary and attention worthy response to the visit of US president Barak Obama came from China. Almost every one of us would have expected the Pakistani response to be along the lines it eventually took. However Chinese reaction to the Barak Obama visit was what the foreign policy watchers were waiting for. The State run Chinese daily Global Times in its report cautioned India to not fall in ‘The Trap’ laid by the West.
 It remarked that the visit of US president in more symbolic and devoid of much significance. They do have reasons to worry. The Chinese leadership through this state run newspaper has attempted to give an unsolicited advice to India. This calculated response failed to hide their anxieties with regards to US forging a strategic relation with India. Strategic relationships are formed keeping in mind long term goals. With this master stroke Narendra Modi has now taken another step towards being among the most influential statesman of the time.

India-US relation as remarked by Barak Obama in his 2010 visit is destined to be one of the most important relationships of this century. US leadership played a big role in getting the waiver at the Nuclear Supplier Group. George Bush worked overtime to get a breakthrough for India by getting the Nuclear Deal done in 2008. Getting that deal done required him to phone many head of states to get the hurdles cleared. The Significance of that deal is huge for India. It was at time that Chinese became wary of India-US partnership and went to the extent of saying that US is trying to include India in its containment of ‘Peaceful Rise of China’. Though that peace is nowhere to be seen in East China Sea.
Unfortunately the deadlocks could not be cleared in India after the 2008 deal. USA and its allies had reservations on the Nuclear Liability Bill of India. The tremendous progress made was halted when UPA government got into troubleshooting mode after unearthing of several scams. US believed that India is falling short on its commitments. By 2013, the momentum was long gone and after the Devyani Khobragade incident the relations were at its deepest ebb.

It was in this time when Narendra Modi made his grand entry. He has to be given all credit for his pragmatic and statesman like approach. Despite not possessing much of experience on foreign relations front he has reinvigorated India’s moribund foreign policy. Putting the disappointments of the past (read his denial of Visa), he has breathed new life into India’s foreign relations in such a short time.

It is now understood that many differences between the two countries have been ironed out and with patience and mutual understanding the rest would be ironed out soon. It is believed that India was able to get US on board with regard to surveillance of its nuclear reactors and at the same time not diluting its security concerns and national interests. Though these things are not made public but going by the assertion in foreign secretary’s statement, it does appear that due caution was exercised in getting the deal done in India’s interests. This is a big achievement for Narendra Modi and India’s Diplomatic corp.
In this global age where the economic and strategic interest do not always converge. In this context, China and USA though rivals are doing a lot of trade with each other.  India is playing its card well and the credit goes to Narendra Modi. This is not a zero sum game. China-US trade dwarfs the US-India trade yet the Chinese are so wary of US investment. It appears that that they are more concerned at the agreement in the defense sector
China has often used its ‘All Weather Friend” Pakistan as a counter balance to India. This ‘All Weather Friend” is a euphemism used for a relationship which is grossly unequal.  China now alleges that India is joining West’s effort to contain China and its ‘peaceful rise’. China says that differences between India and USA are as large as the distances between the two countries. China needs to be reminded of its former premier Le Kekiang statement that he gave in India in 2013, that big countries have to keep good relations other big countries. China’s concerns are baseless. It is India’s right to take its relationships forward as per the need of time. It also need to be reminded that India did not act like China when talks of a new world order led by China and US were doing rounds.

China tried to encircle India by its famous string of Pearls theory manifested in ports around India. In recent months they have had to suffer setbacks. The new government in Srilanka has stated that it will reviews the procedure undertaken while giving the Hambantoota port to China. Two Chinese submarines have docked at these ports. New Sri Lankan head of state is going to visit India in February. Another important development has been in Myanmar where democracy can upset many Chinese equations as the tempers there are very anti-China now.
Narendra Modi with his “Action East policy” is setting the right tone for India in our neighborhood. On the other hand his tremendous success on India and USA relationship is indeed a masterstroke.
Chinese need to relax and not offer us any unsolicited advice with regards to what should be our trajectory of relationship so far as USA is concerned or for that matter our relationship with Japan.
Modi has been playing many masterstrokes on the foreign policy front and has joined league of statesman now with his deft handling and balancing of our economic and diplomatic relationship with USA and China.

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