China’s rise is changing South Asia in unpredictable ways
POINT OF VIEW
On his visit to India, Chinese defense minister General Liang Guanglie paid a cash tip of Rs 1 lakh to IAF pilots. The gesture which was an expression of appreciation for the pilots who ferried him from Mumbai to New Delhi was an awkward digression in an otherwise significant bilateral contact between the two countries. It was a first visit by a Chinese defence minister to India in eight years and it also signaled the full restoration of the bilateral defence ties after their suspension following Beijing’s refusal to allow a senior army general from Kashmir to come on an official visit. The two countries are also resuming their joint military exercises. The two Defence Ministers have “agreed to work together to enhance mutual trust in the security field and continue to maintain peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas,” noting also “that the leaders of India and China have designated 2012 as the Year of India-China Friendship and Cooperation”.
But the friendly tone of the visit hardly detracts from the fraught nature of the relations between the two countries. China’s rise as the global power and the expanding sphere of regional and global influence seems to have made it a natural rival of India, another rising power. The recent years have seen their interests and global outlooks drastically diverge. While China is busy building alternative alliances around the world, even in India’s neighbourhood, New Delhi is drawn towards the established western order headed by US. This is a world that is still in the process of forming itself and there is no telling yet what will its final shape be and whether this will trap the world in a new geo-political lock-in. What is beyond doubt now is the rise of China and its unfolding far-reaching impact on the geo-politics.
For the world, China's emergence on global stage is a fraught prospect with far reaching implications for the way international business is conducted. More so, when China brings to the table an alternative system: a communist capitalism versus west's capitalist capitalism. What makes this global shift imminent is that Beijing is already rewriting the rules of the game and with each passing day advancing to seize what it sees as the Chinese century.
What makes India and China natural rivals is New Delhi’s own growing global footprint. The two countries are battling for influence and market share from Africa to Southeast Asia. They are facing up to each other in Indian Ocean and South China Sea. But their competition is intense in South Asia where Beijing is investing heavily in India’s neighbours. Before visiting New Delhi, Liang went to Sri Lanka where China has built a civilian port at Hambantota.
But it is Beijing’s deep ties with Islamabad that hurt New Delhi the most. On Kashmir, Beijing’s policy more or less mirrors that of Pakistan. China’s presence in Pakistan Administered Kashmir has been a source of great unease in India. However, China has so far stayed off from active meddling in the war in Afghanistan but its growing global clout has impacted the war nevertheless. Beijing is a critical factor in the calculations of Pakistan in its dealings with US and of course, with India as well.
The important question, however, is the role of China in the region after the US exit. Will the geo-political order that has been prevailing in the region over the past decade collapse? One thing is sure, US exit from Afghanistan is likely to radically alter the contours of the ongoing great game being played out in the country. And there is every possibility of its fallout on Kashmir. The state could again emerge as a scene for a fresh violent confrontation between India and Pakistan. And this will not be happening in a unipolar world controlled by Washington but in a multi-polar world where US is already facing stiff competition from China followed - albeit farther behind - by the likes of Russia and India.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 11 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 11 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 12 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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