Over the last few days we have seen some hectic parlaying in Asia with Leon Panetta moving across the continent meeting with leaders of many important countries including India. He has called India the “lynchpin” of Asia. Foreign Minister SM Krishna traveled to China to attend the SCO summit where India is an observer. Reports say that the Chinese have been actively wooing India to join the SCO to thwart India joining any other security organization presumably led by the US. The US on the other side is trying to use India as a counter-weight against China. India it seems is in an enviable position of being pursued by the super power and the what is being touted as future super power.
India’s relations with both US and China has been one of suspicion and mistrust. India was on the other side of the cold war divide and with China it fought a bitter war in 1962 the wounds of which are still fresh in India. China has over the years been aggressive in its claims which has made matters worse.
Though India and China have not shared the best of political relations, trade between the two countries has grown rapidly and heavily in favour of China. The Chinese have also realized that India will pursue its foreign policy independently of other countries which suits Indian interest. This has got the Chinese interested in pursuing India and wean it away from the US which is actively trying to block China in Asia particularly because it has acrimonious relations with it neighbours in the South China Sea.
China is now feeling the pressure that the US has exerted with its proactive policy especially with the latest announcement of stationing 60% of its naval force in the Pacific which is obviously intended at containing China. The US is actively pursuing India which sits on the strategic location of Indian Ocean through which much of China’s trade and energy passes.
China can upstate the US by changing its stance on India which means settling the border issue. China claims large parts of Arunachal Pradesh, hold Aksai Chin and also the Pakistan ceded Shaksgham Valley. If China gives up the claims to the region and signs a treaty with India, India will not have any reason to be anti China and join any anti China bloc that comes up in Asia. What it also does is opens up China to use India as a land route to reach the Arabian sea and thereby avoiding its ally Pakistan which is a much more dangerous route and also harbors the East Turkestan rebels of China.
China will also then benefit from an Indian acceptance of its sovereignty on Tibet from its current position of accepting Chinese suzerainty on Tibet. It will also benefit from India helping China in its handling of the Uigher issue. This will also mean opening up of direct land routes to trade between Tibet and East Turkestan with India.
The Chinese can only be prevented from doing this by their own arrogance and not letting anyone in its backyard rival it. India is poised to grow militarily and economically. China will do well to accept the fact and consider partnering with India to create a peaceful and prosperous Asia. The opportunities will be immense. China stands to gain more from India than the other way round. India’s gain will be a peaceful border with China and its territorial integrity intact. Will China have the courage to settle the border row and sign a treaty with India? Time will tell how Chinese planners think.