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Possibility of an attack from China? Unlikely

Last updated on: December 17, 2010 09:22 IST

'India must do lot of homework to overtake China'

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The ongoing state visit of the Chinese premier is seen as a major step to boost ties between the two Asian giants, but certain unresolved issues still remain.

To put more light to this, we invited China expert and rediff.com columnist Dr Srikanth Kondapalli, associate professor of Chinese Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, for a chat with our readers.


Here's the chat transcript...

Raman asked, Has India made any progress with China during this visit

Srikanth Kondapalli answers Yes and No. Yes because, in the Joint Communique issued today it was mentioned that the bilateral relations have 'acquired global and strategic significance'.

This is significant because the 2005 statement between these two premiers suggested that the relationship is that of strategic and cooperative partnership. Secondly, we can now have a hotline to discuss pressing issues. Thirdly, annual meetings between the two foreign ministers -- this is also necessary to reduce mis-perceptions. Fourthly, a strategic economic dialogue is to commence. Fifthly, mechanism to address trade imbalance and infrastructure development... On the negative side, no explicit statements regarding Kashmir or cross-border terrorism (the statement did mention about the UNSC resolution 1267, 1373, 1540 and 1624) and no mention of Mumbai.

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'China has a nuclear edge over India'

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Raman asked, Sir, Do you think Indo-China trade can touch $100 billion by 2015

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, Yes. I think so given the largely state and market driven trade.

sachin asked, Sir I know our Indian army is one of the best army in the world, but how do u rate Indian army as compared with Chinese

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, I agree. Today, the Indian armed forces are highly professional and like other advanced forces, they want to graduate towards "full spectrum dominance" with electronic warfare, information warfare etc capabilities. Their pan-regional capabilities have also been enhanced.

I think in comparison to the PLA, the Indian armed forces, specifically the conventional forces are better. China has an edge over India in the nuclear and ballistic missile fields

 



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'China appears to be bargaining with India on the UNSC issue'

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Satish asked, Chinese president's visit could have placed more significance then the Premier... In what way the Premier could able to address vital issues like to stapled Visas & border issues

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, In the Chinese hierarchy, Premier Wen Jiabao is ranked no 3 while the current president Hu Jintao is number 1 (because he is also the chairman of the central military commission and general secretary of the Party).

On the larger question you raised, the Chinese government acts as one to an external actor -- in this case the Indian visit -- and hence there is no effective difference between the premier and president.

pasumpon asked, What about Chinese position on permanent Seat member for India in UN

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, At the Yekaterinburg meeting of the India-Russia-China summit in 2005, the three stated that they welcome "greater role for India in the international institutions, including in the UN". This is short of supporting India at the UNSC with veto power. India had supported China in 1945 and in 1949 when the Communist Party came to power, as also during the 1962 border war. So India's position was a principled position vis-a-vis China, while China appears to be bargaining with India on the UNSC issue.



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'Trade can create positive Sino-India atmosphere'

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Bs asked, Sir, is India's foreign policy is matured enough to handle both USA and China at the same time or in future it will be a ultimate disaster?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, There is no way to predict about the future and whether Indian diplomacy could blunder. It also depends on the then ground reality. Currently, it appears to be mature enough to handle both as was reflected in the US president and Chinese premier's visit

GaneshNadar asked, Do you think by increasing trade with China it will help solve the border issues?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, Increasing trade creates interdependence between two countries and possibly create positive atmosphere and stakes between the two. This may be conducive for resolving the border, but not necessarily the main factor.

China resolved border disputes with 12 of its 14 land neighbours when its trade with these countries was actually low as compared to now. China has not solved its maritime borders with anyone but its trade with maritime neighbours is very high as compared to land neighbours.



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'Several sectors in the Indian economy are still primitive'

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Ratul asked, There was a time when everything electronic which was good, was "made in Japan". Now it seems to be always "Made in china". Where has Japan vanished?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, Today China has become the manufacturing hub of the world for the mechanical appliances and also making inroads in the electronic fields as well as several IT hardware foundries from Taiwan, South Korea and Japan had opened shop in the China market.

As a result the micro-electronic chip component capacity of China had increased substantially. So we can say that Japanese products are assembled and sold abroad as well as China offered overall profits to these Japanese firms

Dax asked, We've a huge trade imbalance (with China at +40% to India's). Do you think we've a way to make it equally beneficial? If so, when and thru which sector for India?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, It is true that there is huge trade deficit between India and China -- about $20 billion. Indian exports mainly constitute raw materials (like Iron) while China is exporting mechanical appliances, whose value is high.

In the last three decades of reform China had moved up the value chain and is confident in producing higher value products, while several sectors in the Indian economy are still "primitive" in nature. However, India has advantages in the service sector and IT software.



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Possibility of an attack from China? Unlikely

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Murale asked, Is he here to say don't trust US on UN permanent seat?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, As WikiLeaks documents indicated, China does not want to dilute the P5 (including the US) hold!

sachin asked, Sir, why India not used air force power when china attacked us long year back?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, Some suggest that if the air forces were used then the nature of war could have been expanded!

Abhijit asked, Whether China will change their views with Pakistan after the Indian visit?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, no. It appears that the "all weather" relations between the two will continue

sb asked, Sir, Do you think is there any possibility of attack from China in near future to prevent growth of India ??

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, Unlikely, as both are nuclear weapon states and since there is no way to predict escalation in the event of a conventional skirmish



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The stapled visa controversy

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Ravikk asked, what are these stapled visas? Can you explain? Also China is a larger economy than India? Are we safe trading with them?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, Stapled visas are visas separately tagged (stapled) to the passport. This indicates that the person receiving such visa comes from a disputed territory. China started issuing these to Kashmir residents from 2008 to those in India, while no record of such visas to those in Pakistan -- meaning Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is not a disputed territory from the Chinese point of view!

rahul asked, Sir, who should be held responsible for spoiling relationship between India & China & when? Why should not we have military tie up with china, it will help us to counter Pakistan & gain more bargaining power from west? China will choose India over Pakistan if we show more confidence in them, as we share lot of common issues such as terrorism, western pressure on policy, environmental issues etc.

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, China had chosen India in the 1950s over Pakistan. However, that changed after the Dalai Lama's flight and the 1962 border war.



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'China has become more aggressive in the last year'

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Srinivasan asked, We keep hearing China at present is aggressive, we hear about China's strategy to build a pearl around India extending its strategic reach to peninsular India, do you think India is countering such things appropriately with its external policies. Do we have the correct strategy?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, It is true that China's behaviour became more aggressive in the last one year -- on the South China Sea dispute, Senkaku/Diaoyutao and Kashmir issues. This could be due to rising nationalism, PLA's assertiveness in the decision-making process or due to the run-up to the 2012 18th party congress when the current leadership will have to give up to a new (aggressive?) one.

In this context, the Indian Ocean region preparations have come to the fore -- Gwadar, Hambantota, Kyepkau, Great Coco, etc. as well as the suggestion that China set up military bases in Yemen/Oman/Pakistan.

On Indian efforts: India is enhancing its naval capabilities (with INS Arihant; air refueling; aircraft carriers, etc), while conducting multilateral naval exercises in the region. India is also cooperating with Vietnam, ASEAN, South Korea and Japan



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'India must do lot of homework to overtake China'

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Mandar asked, Dear Sir, It is said China is 10 yrs ahead of India... At what rate India should progress to breach this gap & to come close to china... What all the possible hurdles?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, In several sectors China is ahead of India -- literacy, health, longevity, etc. However, India has several advantages: younger population specifically as China is ageing. Some predict India will overtake China in economic performance from 2013. However, there is a lot of homework that India should do first.

despremi asked, it is compulsion of US to befriend India in view rising strength of china. Why is Chinese premier here by the way?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, First, Premier Wen was here at the October 29 request of Indian Prime Minister at Hanoi. This is also a reciprocal visit to Dr Singh's visit in Jan 2008 to Beijing. Today joint communique suggests that such visits have to be regular. This is good because some concrete progress can be achieved by high-level intervention.

On the US: actually, today the Group 2 (US and China cooperation) is a reality and is reflected on North Korea, Iran, G-20, etc. issues. Both have more than 60 structured levels of discussions and cooperation than compared to US and India. China had invested more than $1 trillion in US treasury securities and this is unnerving the US.



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'Solving border issues won't end differences'

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Theprateeksharma asked, IF line of actual control is somehow made temporary between india and china, and border disputes are resolved, can we expect a partnership like US and Canada between china and India is it possible????

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, If the LAC is recognised and if the whole border issue is resolved, still there could be differences between China and India. The cases of Vietnam and China or Russia and China or other examples prove this.

harpreet Singh asked, Sir, china has border issues with almost all the surrounding countries including India and Russia, don't you think these 2 biggies can put more pressure to resolve this issue using political and military ways.

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, China had resolved the border (land) dispute with all its neighbours except India and Bhutan. On your larger question, political and military pressure can be exerted hypothetically to resolve any border dispute



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'Nehru had foresight to accept that China is a big country'

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Kinggops asked, Just As China is encouraging Pakistan to unsettle us - should we not use Taiwan to help China change its mind on Pakistan?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, Some say Pakistan is "China's Israel" meaning complete back up from Beijing. To a large extent this is true. On India's options: Indian officials have recently hinted China's aggressive position on Kashmir could be counterproductive visa-vis Tibet and Taiwan issues.

gm asked, If you think our previous prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru is responsible for present situation of India with China.

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, Nehru had the foresight to accept the ground reality that China is a big country (in terms of capabilities as well) and hence India had to engage with it. Otherwise, from 1947 itself we should have been fighting the Chinese! However, he could have demanded reciprocity principle be implemented. With this we could have resolved several bilateral issues (border, Kashmir, etc)



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'Chinese system is more corrupt that that of the India'

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Kishore asked, Sir.. How in your view is China handling corruption..? Don't you think China has better foundation for economic growth than India..? Don't you think our democracy is bit of a hurdle for our development?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, I think Chinese system is more corrupt that that of the Indian system. However, on high-profile cases (if these are successfully reported) then severe action is taken - unlike in the Indian case. I think India has a better economic foundation than that of China and I dont think democracy can be a hurdle

GaneshNadar asked, You call him number 3, who is number 2?

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, Wu Bangguo the current Parliament chief is no. 3. He will also be replaced in 2012

lien asked, India could dare to bark out loud at Pakistan but wags it tail timidly when facing china. While china got more than 400 medals in the recent Asian games India could gathered just around 60's. Our statistical data in different other areas are not better either. Your comments on these, Sir

Srikanth Kondapalli answers, Asymmetry in power relations between China and India is key to this question



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