N.B. This Editorial was published in Huan Qiu Shi Bao (HQSB) on line on Sep 1st, and also carried by the English version of Huan Qiu Shi Bao, the Global Times, soon after its being posted on the HQSB website, ahead of its publication in the print edition the next day.
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India’s GDP fell 23.9 percent from a year earlier in the second quarter. It is not only India’s lowest GDP growth rate on record, but also the worst performance for any Asian country. The root cause, of course, is the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic. India has recorded more than 75,000 daily new confirmed cases for five consecutive days, with the latest death toll at 971 in a single day. Global opinion says that India is becoming the new “epicenter” of the outbreak.
At such a time, the Indian army again confronted Chinese troops on the border area at the southern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake and near Reqin Mountain pass. From the Doklam crisis in 2017 to the serious clash in the Galwan Valley in June this year, India has been taking a radical and hardline approach in dealing with the China-India border dispute. The system that has managed the border situation for decades is now crumbling. Regular border frictions will exhaust both countries.
India has not taken negotiations as the main path, but pinned its hopes on strengthening ties with external forces, including the US, to exert pressure on China.
India’s actions have seriously increased the strategic mistrust between China and India, and heightened the damage border frictions are creating on relations between the two countries. India has cancelled much cooperation with China since Galwan Valley clash. Tragically, Its nationalism is inflicting damage to itself.
One cannot overlook that India’s national security outlook is twisted. New Delhi’s defense budget for 2019 reached $71.1 billion, ranking the third in the world, or about 2.4 percent of its GDP. However, a large part of it was spent on meaningless border frictions with its neighbors. For example, India’s recent deployment of a large number of troops into the high-altitude regions of China and India will consume countless winter supplies, which could have been utilised for management of (the welfare of) the border areas.
India has gone astray playing geopolitics with China. Countries like the US will never really offer a hand to India, but rather take advantage of the South Asian giant without paying a price for it.
Nonetheless, if China and India are really engaged in comprehensive antagonism, it will be much easier for China to rope in countries, including Pakistan, against India. But Beijing hasn’t ever implied that. This shows China is quite capable of handling challenges from India.
China doesn’t want to be India’s enemy. China’s development is far ahead of India’s, but we still believe that continuing development is the priority to assure our national strategy. India has just started its modernization, with a large number of people in dire poverty. But Beijing seems to have been more enthusiastic than New Delhi in the two sides’ cooperation. New Delhi is obsessed with “national security” while overlooking homeless people. The Indian government has forgotten that its main task should be improving living standards, which are still very low.
Should China and India be rational enough and use their ties as a platform to advance cooperation, there shouldn’t have been the increasingly tense strategic struggle between them. If only both China and India were rational enough, they would not lock horns with each other but regard their relations as a platform to promote their respective development instead. If India takes nationalism as the main gauge of measuring its ties with China, exaggerating border issues, and treating these ties geopolitically throws Sino-Indian relations into the global geopolitical storm to stir things up, then China alone will never be able to maintain regional peace and stability.
Neither China nor India is willing to keep their relations at the cost of losing territory. But the same disputes have been there for decades, and they shouldn’t have been allowed to resurface. Chinese public opinion hasn’t focused on the China-India border issues, but India has always been fanatical. One will suspect that India is misguided.
China is an immovable neighbor and much stronger than India. The two countries are suitable to be partners in seeking common development. But if New Delhi wants to label Beijing its long-term strategic rival, it needs to be prepared to pay a huge cost. In the meantime, it will never manage to get one more inch of land at China-India border areas.