Contained by China, Engaged by China

Giving to India what it is getting from America

American Enterprise Institute’s Christopher Griffin argues that without American support, India is at risk of being boxed in by Beijing’s containment strategy.

But all is not as it seems in Asia. Indeed, the more one follows Sino-Indian relations, the more it appears that Beijing has ripped a page from what it perceives as the U.S. playbook for containing a rising power. The People’s Daily recently summarized U.S. policy toward China:

There have been two tendencies in the United States in the formulation of its China policy, one holding China as a potential rival that must be contained on all sides; the other believing China’s momentum is irreversible. . . . [It must therefore] be engaged to play a “responsible” and “constructive” role. Washington’s China policy in recent years has turned out a combination of the two, while its [recent] acts are all-sided containments under the cloak of engagement words.

As frustrating as Beijing finds this perceived policy of “all-sided containments under the cloak of engagement,” it has found the approach increasingly useful in its own relationship with India.[Christopher Griffin/AEI]

5 thoughts on “Contained by China, Engaged by China”

  1. India has to stand up to China. There is no other way out. We should actively prevent them from gaining a foothold in our neighbourhood. If it means a formal military alliance with the US so be it.

  2. Apollo: it’s too late for preventing them “gaining a foothold”. Look at the chaos surrounding India: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka – Tibet as well, but that’s part of China, right? In all except Sri Lanka, there is a definite Chinese hand. While all this is happening Sino-Chinese trade will likely hit $20B in 2007 and continue to grow at a frenetic pace. The strategy of simultaneous containment and engagement is certainly being applied. Nothing to be alarmed – we just need to be cognizant and safeguard of our interests.

  3. Libertarian,

    Good point. Indeed, China itself is doing quite well despite the containment/engagement that it faces from the United States. India can do the same vis-a-vis China. The word “can” denotes a possibility, not certainty.

  4. “India can do the same vis-a-vis China.The word “can” denotes a possibility, not certainty.”

    With our kind of gutless politico-bureaucratic establishment who cannot even stand up to Puny Bangladesh or Pakistan or even the LTTE that possibility is rather non-existent.

  5. Nitin, Apollo: this week’s economist is a great read on this topic. The US is pragmatic enough to understand they cannot keep China (or India, for that matter) from attaining their potential. It’s far better to engage these budding giants to stay relevant in a dramatically different world. The Economist opines that Europe (sans France) may actually be doing a better job than the US – hard to believe – and against conventional wisdom.

    India needs to apply this wisdom to Pakistan. We need a comprehensive (and hawkish) strategy for dealing with them instead of knee-jerk troop-massing on the border, or Havana-like playing dead. It’s got to involve a strong economic thrust (to increase our leverage), some clear signalling on what our red lines are, and clear consequences for crossing them – that we must constitutionally commit ourselves to. Today we have no good options because we have no leverage. Think of the leverage we would have if we had the equivalent of an H1-B program for Pak professionals in India, and they accounted for 50% of foreign currency remittances. Or Airtel and Reliance unwiring Pak, or Mittal buying up their public steel mills. Or over-producing electricity (call Tulsi Tanti and Suzlon in) in Rajasthan and selling it to Karachi and neighborhood. The only reason Pak kisses Uncle Sam’s butt is because Sammy fills its begging bowl. We could find creative ways to do the same to create leverage on the issues that bother us the most.

Comments are closed.