What Should PM Talk To Wen?
Within the next fortnight China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is expected to visit Delhi. His agenda is not known. Earlier National Security Adviser (NSA) Shiv Shankar Menon was in China to discuss the Sino-Indian border question. The talks were not conclusive. It was agreed the dialogue would resume. Surely Premier Wen will not be here to resume the dialogue being held at the lower level of officials? Why is he coming?
Most likely he is coming because the recent flurry of diplomatic activity suggests increasingly close relationship between India and the West. India’s closer ties with America and Europe could worry Beijing. So the hawks in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who really call the shots would send Beijing’s most humane and liberal face to convince New Delhi that its ties with China are improving. But are they improving?
It is true that NSA Shiv Shankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao continue to make cooing noises about how Sino-Indian ties are improving and why cooperation between India and China is vital for the world. All this blabber is becoming tiresome and irritating. Chinese diplomats from Premier Wen downward may be pleasant and seemingly sincere. But are they effective?
One does hope that South Block is not misled by the West’s assumed or genuine confusion about China. It refuses to acknowledge Beijing’s hypocrisy and double-faced approach on foreign policy. For instance, a recent issue of London’s The Economist solemnly discusses China’s relations with North Korea on the premise that Beijing does not quite know how to deal with North Korean obduracy. Anyone with the faintest acquaintance with power politics would know that Beijing which can economically paralyze North Korea within a week would not allow Pyongyang to step out of line. The voices within China that speak moderately merely confirm the division within Beijing’s corridors of power. Premier Wen and his moderate team provide merely the public mask over the private face of the hardliners of the PLA and the CCP who direct policy. Indians recognize the reality of the relationship that exists between Pakistan’s civilian government and its army. It is time that they start recognizing the reality of the relationship that exists between Premier Wen and Beijing’s faceless hardliners.
India should be less diplomatic and blunter when dealing with China. New Delhi with its economy fueled by domestic savings and domestic demand has plenty of leverage if it wants to exercise it. There are some hard incontrovertible facts about China that New Delhi should recall and remind its Beijing guest about when he next arrives. The facts are as follows.
China has links with global terrorism. Beijing signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Taliban led by Mullah Omar then influenced by Osama bin Laden on 9/11 2001. By that MOU Beijing built Afghanistan’s telecommunication system using the services of a company owned by the PLA that had functioned in India. China has continuously given sanctuary to Indian separatist insurgents. The PLA has supplied arms and training to India’s Northeast insurgents. China initiated and helped develop Pakistan’s nuclear weaponry. China is the world’s fountainhead for nuclear proliferation through its proxies Pakistan and North Korea. China is interfering in Kashmir and encouraging separatists through its visa policy. China brazenly violated its written assurance given in 2005 that it would not disturb settled populations in resolving its boundary dispute with India by laying claim to Arunachal Pradesh and by continually causing pinpricks in that region. That there is not the slightest change in China’s covert aid to terrorists based in Pakistan and targeting India has now been confirmed by the latest Wikileaks exposure quoting a dispatch by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stating that Beijing in the UN Security Council blocked sanctions against Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the 26/1 Mastermind Hafiz Saeed. Why should Beijing which claims to be worried by Islamist terrorism in Xingjian protect a terrorist mastermind in Pakistan? Many more instances of Beijing’s openly hostile moves against India can be summoned.
Why, then, should New Delhi continue to kowtow to Beijing and make mealy mouthed whimpering noises instead of bluntly telling its leaders where to get off? Prime Minister Manmohan Singh needs to seriously reappraise New Delhi’s approach to Beijing. And when he meets Premier Wen Jiabao later this month he should not hesitate to call a spade a spade. Perhaps the MEA thinks it is serving the interests of the US. It is unashamedly serving the interests of China. Will it ever start serving the interests of India?