India outsmarts China, makes Pakistan regional pariah
China has started taking a serious note of India. Two opinion pieces in the Chinese media in as many days have voiced concern over “India rising and shining.” The first concerns the commissioning of a nuclear submarine Arihant. Though it is not yet fully ready for deployment, the fact that India has been trying to develop its own nuclear subs since 1970s and Arihant is the first to undergo extensive sea trials has made Beijing uneasy.
To compound its apprehension is once the sub is fully deployed with nuclear arms-tipped missiles, it can be a potent force for India in high seas. In strategic terms, what it means is India can claim the Nuclear Triad status –capability to launch nuclear strikes from land, sea and air. Another N-sub, Aridhaman, is slated to join the submarine fleet in 2018.
China has also alleged that India is increasing the number of its mountain battalions in north-east at ‘a phenomenal rate.’ Although China is far ahead of India in military strength, its concern over our military modernization is surprising. But its alarm can be attributed to two factors: One, economic rise; two, increasing clout. Both are detrimental to Chinese regional and global interests. On the economic side, China’s growth rate is slowing down after a decade of unprecedented progress and in the world arena, its South China disputes and claims have tainted its image. Against this background comes India-Pakistan disputes over cross-border terrorism and Kashmir.
Chinese stand over these and other related issues has been consistent and clear: Business with India and strategic ties with Pakistan. Until now, the Chinese leaders had been delicately balancing the divergent interests causing some heartburn among Indian leaders and warming up the hearts of Pak leaders. But after the Uri attack by Pak-based militants and the Indian government’s aggressive diplomatic campaign to isolate Pakistan for its terror links, Beijing’s kaleidoscopic view of its business partner and strategic ally seems to have changed.
An indication of it comes from semi-official Chinese English daily Global Times. Shi Lancha, a visiting scholar at Tsinghua University, has argued in an opinion piece that appeared in the paper’s Tuesday edition that India has outmaneuvered China at the just-ended 8th Brics summit in Goa.
During the summit, India presented itself as a bright spot in a bloc whose other members have been buffeted by economic headwinds to varying degrees. With a GDP growth rate of 7.5 percent in 2015 against a rather gloomy global backdrop, India has replaced China as the world’s fastest-growing large economy, Shi said. Brics summit has come as a wonderful platform for India to coordinate efforts in reforming current global economic and finance governance, the scholar added.
Stressing how India could effectively use its newly-acquired economic muscle, Shi said: This effect becomes more visible as the operationalization of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) have put pressures on the current international finance system, giving India tangible leverage in demanding relevant reforms. For example, the Goa Declaration urges advanced European economies to cede two chairs on the Executive Board of the IMF, to which India may have an upper hand to claim.
The article further said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had pushed for its reformist demands together with like-minded countries at the Goa summit to bid for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the United Nations Security Council when it is enlarged.
Commenting on the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) held in tandem with Brics summit, the scholar sees wider geostrategic connotations. “As India invited all countries in the region except Pakistan, it in effect consigned Pakistan to be a regional pariah,” the article said.
BIMSTEC groups all regional countries — Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan — along with some emerging economies of Brics member states. It is clear India has pulled off a major diplomatic coup by eliminating Pakistan from this regional bloc. In a way, India has defeated Pakistan’s moves to float a regional grouping with ‘like-minded countries’ as a substitute for Saarc when Islamabad had to cancel the November summit over India’s boycott decision.
Will there be a course correction in Beijing’s India-Pakistan policy after Goa summits?