Why blame China?

It behaved as it should

China did whatever it could to deny and delay the liberalisation of international nuclear trade with India. It did so in characteristic fashion, using indirect means until the very end. (But it was a diplomatic failure for China, because despite coming out directly, it didn’t manage to block the consensus).

Those who expected China to behave otherwise had deluded themselves into believing their own statements that “there is room for both India and China to rise in Asia” and that India doesn’t believe in balance-of-power politics and suchlike. As C Raja Mohan said in his interview with Pragati this month, “the problem, however, is that China’s rise is taking place a lot faster than that of India. As we look to the future, it is inevitable that India will constantly rub against China in different parts of Asia and beyond. There will be many elements of competition and some opportunities for cooperation with China. Managing this immensely dynamic relationship with China will be the single most important challenge for India’s security policy in the coming years.”

It’s not only about delivering diplomatic snubs. While those are useful in their own way, India must be prepared to drive it in at times and places where it hurts, while simultaneously engaging in mutually beneficial co-operation in other areas. [See one China policy—there isn’t one.] Stability in bilateral relations is a worthy policy objective, but the lesson from Vienna is that it can’t be achieved by pusillanimity, good intentions and unilateral diffidence alone.

13 thoughts on “Why blame China?”

  1. Forget the Red Book, forget the Internationale, forget the Workers’ <Paradise. There is only one language that China understands perfectly well: Dollars, Rupees, and Yuans. India must strive to build the capacity to learn that language, and learn it well, so it can wield it when necessary, as the U.S. did in Vienna.

  2. There are media reports that the Chinese delegation had abstained (walked out) when the NSG agreed unanimously (sans China) to grant the waiver to India. This is very specific allegation, and India’s Foreign Ministry should be able to provide a confirmation of this. How about a pointed Parliamentary question on this matter?

  3. The parliamentary question would fetch an answer to the effect that the GoI does not react to media speculation, and that India is not a member of NSG and hence was not a witness to the events.

    In fact, I would prefer that GoI answer it this way. The alternative is for GoI to substantiate or deny a media rumour without any first-hand knowledge whatsoever (or, to waste time and resources in acquiring *reliable* witness accounts). Such matters are best left to the media and to us.

  4. Siddharth Varadarajan’s coverage on this is interesting and contradictory. In his ‘live’ coverage on his blog, he suggested that the stories of China’s walkout was spin. But in his most recent filing he provides a detailed account of China’s delay & deny negotiating strategy.

  5. My suggestion is that after the waiver the official statement of the MEA of GOI should have been-
    ‘we are thankful to the NSG for facilitating & co-operating India’s International Civil Nuclear Trade Pact & we take this opportunity to specially thank The Republic of China for their constructive criticism during the various debates at the NSG meet & ultimately unanimously endorsing it in our favour, thus strengthening the world communities faith in India as a responsible Nuclear state.

  6. Mango Man,

    Not sure if you intended it, but mentioning the Republic of China would be a neat way to enjoy a fireworks display that the People’s Republic of China is so capable of.

  7. well of course an ‘ordinary man’ would not be aware of diplomatic niceties, but if any thing that has the potential to ruffle the dragon’s tail & make it breathe fire loosing it’s cunning camouflaged coolness is worth indulging in & beating them at their own game.

  8. Mango Man,

    Republic of China is the official name of Taiwan. People’s Republic of China is the official name of “China”.

  9. Ok, I stand corrected, anyway I hope the message got across, & you never know the Taiwanese may usher democracy (& sense) in china someday.

  10. On a second thought, i would love to see expression on the chinese faces on account of such a ‘slip of the tongue’.

  11. I just read Siddharth Varadrajan’s detailed account of the Chinese role on his blog. It seems to be model of careful reporting. If it is “contradictory” to the impression he had during the “live” blog post, my respect for his journalistic integrity is enhanced even more

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