Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A “zhengyou” (serious & real) relationship with China

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A “zhengyou” (serious & real) relationship with China

During Pratibha Patil’s recent visit to China, both sides celebrated
the Copenhagen spirit and affirmed to take the relationship
beyond bilateral to global cooperation.

At the Asia Hotel in Beijing, Ma Jisheng, an official with the informa¬tion department of the Foreign Ministry, was declaiming on mil¬lennia-old India-China relations. Suddenly he flung aside the prepared text and an¬nounced that he would speak straight from the heart: "Would the media on both sides be please give India and China a chance to develop normal, relations?"

The official's point was simple. Attitudes' hardened when the media sensationalized to issues, and the events of 2009, when bilateral relations reached a precipitous low following media frenzy and scare-mongering, proved as much. "This constant harping on border, visa and other things, is it not like (eating the same food everyday?" Mr. Ma asked plaintively, adding, "I cannot help but think sometimes that China and India would solve their problems if only the media kept quiet a bit."

Yet as the tour- organized to coincide with the landmark 60th anniversary of the establishment of India-China diplomatic re¬lations- progressed, it was evident that even at the highest level of the Chinese lead¬ership there was a degree of candour and responsiveness that took the Indian side by surprise.

It certainly helped that Ms Patil arrived in Beijing at a time when India-China relations were seen to be on the mend after a difficult year characterized by intense mistrust on both sides. The irritants seemed daunting enough on their own: China's angst over the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, and the Indian unhappiness at stapled visas, not to mention apprehensions over Chinese-as-sisted construction in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). But aided by irresponsible speculation on an upcoming war, they began to look insurmountable. In July 2009, the editor of an Indian defence magazine proph¬esied that China would attack India by 2012. A month later, a so-called Chinese strategist posted a web article that argued that China with some effort could indeed balkanize India.

The summit revealed the humongous po¬tential of India-China cooperation on in¬ternational platforms. Given the size of either country's population and economy, India and China are intimidating enough individually. Together their might could be staggering. Not surprisingly, Copenhagen became a metaphor for forward movement at the 2010 India-China Beijing talks. Ms Patil and President Hu Jintao agreed that the Asian neighbours were now ready to beyond bilateral engagement to consider cooperation at International groupings and venues, among them G-20, Doha and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, Chins).

The enlarged scope of cooperation was brought up again on the last day of talks by Vice-President Xi Jinping, who made several, significant points. First, he declared that In¬dia and China were ripe for a "new start." Second, he reiterated the prospects for glob¬al cooperation between the Asian neigh¬bours. Third, he pointed out that between them China and India boasted a combined population of 2.6 billion. The imagery would overawe anyone: Two fastest growing econo¬mies with close to 40 per cent of the global population acting in tandem.
Inevitably India's growing trade with Chi¬na - China is India's largest trading partner with volumes targeted to reach $ 60 billion this year - figured prominently in the talks as did the fact that it was adversely balanced against India.

As against this, the media mood swing was overly positive on India's aspirations for a United Nations Security Council seat. Ms Patil did seek China's backing for it during her summit meeting with President Hu, and China did broadly indicate its support but the phraseology was far more nuanced than understood by the Indian media which drummed it up as "China backs India on UNSC seat." Indeed, the omission of the "promised" UNSC seat from the Chinese Foreign Ministry statement issued the same day underscored the pitfalls of overinter-preting what Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao described as "a gradually developing re¬lationship." What official sources did convey later was that on the UNSC seat, "the Chin¬ese were far more positive than they have been so far."

A top member of the Inian official delegation summed up India-China relations in terms of "pengyou" and "zhengyou." "Pen¬gyou" is a superficial friend. "Zhengyou" is a serious, real friend who will frankly admit to problems and work at overcoming them: ''We have a zhengyou relationship with China.

Adopted from “Hindu National Daily”

Observations on Sino indo relationship

 What intrigues China?

 Political asylum to Dalai Lama and fleeing Tibitians in the year 1959.

 Setting up of “Govt. in Exile” of Tibet in India in Dharamshala (HP) with the declared seat of power of Tibet.

 US setting up the security & intelligence agency DGS (Director General of Security) post 1962 to end Chinese hegemony in the area.

 This plan did not succeed in its primary and desired aim. But the US succeeded in establishing their roots to activate anti Chinese intelligence activities from Indian soil.

 All such events made China to adopt “enemies–enemy” Pakistan as their friend and provided them material & diplomatic support in world forum.

 The US never desires a close and friendly Sino-India. As that would dilute US position in the region.

 Are we really to follow old dictums “National Interests only” should decide our global and diplomatic initiative.

These observations are based on a discussion with the Chinese Ambassador to India in the year 2000 at DSSC Wellington. Where I was posted as CI (air) 2000-2001)

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