Mohan Guruswamy, Chairman of the
Centre for Policy Alternatives, New Delhi, a privately funded think
tank, focused on the study and review of public policy in India,
answered a series of questions on the visit of Chinese President Hu
Jintao to India.
Mohan Guruswamy: Hi, Iím here to
take your questions on the visit of the Chinese President Hu Jintao
Pradeep: Is it possible for China
to think of a military solution to the boundary issue?
Mohan: No. They do not have the
military advantage to do another 1962. Besides there is no reason
for them to do anything because they are now on very much their
claim line pre 1962.
Manish: Beware of China. Don't be
fooled by their outer behaviour. China can anytime back-bite us?
Mohan: We must not be suspicious
to the extent of getting paranoid. Countries particularly neighbours
have to engage with each other. I am glad China and India are doing
so. We have had a tranquil border since 1967, not a single instance
of even a single shot being fired across the line and there is no
reason why that should change. India and China are poised to become
the number 2 and 3 economies by 2025 and India even has a shot of
passing China around 2035Ė40. So why screw it all up with
Ramananda: Sir how do the Chinese
perceive India, strategically and otherwise? What does the man on
the street think about India?
Mohan: The average man on the
street in China has little perception about India. He vaguely knows
that our economy is doing well and is being increasingly compared to
that of China. Itís pretty much the mirror opposite of the view from
the street in India. The elite in both countries are aware that
conflict is not an option and that we must compete and co-exist. The
Chinese are making a noticeable effort to put the past behind and
resolve existing issues. We must engage them with a clear mind and
Ramananda: Do you agree with the
theory that better economic conditions will automatically foster
better political ties?
Mohan: China is already India's
biggest market for manufactured goods. Itís because of software the
US becomes number one for us. Better ties have come with improved
economies and improved military strengths.
Ramananda: Sir, what was the
Chinese thinking behind raising the Arunachal issue just before Hu's
Mohan: I think he was just
restating a formal position. I saw the interview and I think the
channel CNN-IBN was sensationalising a part of it for obvious
reasons. There is still a dispute in the formal sense. We do not
have a formal agreement. We have an agreement to standstill at our
existing positions. India needs to reconcile its claims on Aksai
Chin with the ground and historical reality, just as China is
apparently willing to do on Arunachal. But Indians must not forget
that India asserted formal control over Tawang only in Feb 14, 1951,
just about when China went into Lhasa. I am not saying that we will
leave or should leave. Itís now been internalised into India. But do
not forget that even the Dalai Lama has still not stated a position
on this in spite of being asked to do so several times.
Pradeep: In spite of the cultural
affinity with India why China chooses to join hands with enemies of
Mohan: There is little cultural
affinity between India and China. I donít think China will seriously
pursue Arunachal Pradesh. The key for them is Aksai Chin. They want
us to agree to that. The rest is a bargaining ploy, Games that
Jay: How realistic is the
PakĖChina nuke deal? What are its implications for India, USA & Asia
Mohan: It is real. The Pak bomb
is a Chinese bomb Type 153 and the Pak missile is an old Chinese
missile which they got via North Korea. But whatís the big deal. We
have our nuclear forces and our missiles, some of which are surely
aimed at China. Nuclear weapons assure a degree of stability.
RSG: Mr Guruswamy, what are your
views on the perception that China is 'encircling' us? If it is,
what can India do about it?
Mohan: They are expanding their
area of influence. Donít forget 55% of Chinese oil is now imported.
I think Chinese bases, if any, in our backyard will only increase
their vulnerability to pressure. The sea lanes pass only 300 kms
from India. One can imagine them feeling pretty vulnerable to
Indian, US, British etc pressures. All maintain powerful navies in
the Indian Ocean. China is the weakest player here.
Rajeev: Donít you think Indian
leadership lacks the strategic thinking when compared to China, US
or even Pakistan? We seem to be leading ourselves into a pit when it
comes to foreign policy decisions and are always on the defensive.
Mohan: I agree.
RSG: Sir, what is the main
objective behind Hu's visit? What would make it a success, or a
Mohan: I think there will be some
major initiatives and there will be better understanding. The border
issue is not important now. We can wait for time to sort it out.
Akjasfld: Sir, Hu Jintao will be
in India for only 3 days. While he will spend a week in Pakistan.
Does that not tell you where China's priorities lie?
Mohan: Pakistan is their ally and
India is just a friend. As friendship with India deepens the
alliance with Pakistan will be loaded with practicalities. China
kept off from the Kargil war despite Musharaff being in Beijing
then. They will give priority to their interests and war with India
or conflict with India is not among them.
Manish: We should have supported
Tibet and should not have allowed China to take over. China will
gradually eat away the East side of India. They are six times more
powerful then India. India should strategically find allies against
China. China is major threat to India. May not be now but in the
Mohan: No point crying over split
milk. Now we cannot undo what happened over 50 years ago. We have no
strategic interest in Tibet beyond having a peaceful neighbour.
There is no reason why China and India cannot be peaceful and even
Faraaz: If we go to war now which
country do you think has the military advantage?
Mohan: Nothing will happen. No
one has the advantage over the other now. The Indian military is
good enough to sort out any problems.
Tiger: Tiger skins are being
openly sold in China-held Tibet. An entire species is being wiped
out due to the connivance of the Chinese. Can you, Sir, please,
raise this issue with the Chinese authorities?
Mohan: True tiger skins and bones
are traded in China and Tibet. The Chinese authorities have now
taken note of our concerns are cracking down. But people will
continue to be callous and stupid. There is still a demand in India
for Shatoosh wool from Tibetan Chirus. So there is a problem in both
Anurag: Why is he coming in
Mohan: He has unfinished business
here. I think he also wants to sample a good Indian meal.
Jay: Do you think India should
strongly ally with Japan to correct the strategic balance in Asia?
Mohan: What will Japan do? It is
China's biggest trading partner and biggest overseas investor. Donít
bank on Japan for anything. As far as geopolitics is concerned it is
little more than a US satellite
Jay: Should we agree to Chinese
investment in sensitive areas like ports & telecom?
Mohan: What is sensitive about a
port or telecom. A civil contractor having built a port just moves
on. Telecom is already open to FDI. I donít see any great security
implications. Donít forget India tapped into Musharaff's telephone
call from Beijing to Islamabad without having access to a telecom
company in China..
Pradeep: Mr. Guruswamy, how do
you see India and China in the second half of this century? Are they
going to be equals?
Mohan: I think by the midpoint of
this century India will be ahead, provided we donít screw up. We
must educate all our people, get lots of foreign investment,
increase manufacturing and become more export oriented. For that we
need to tame the bureaucracy and decentralise government. Neither is
happening. Our PM keeps talking about it but even halfway down his
term he has done precious little.
Sam: Sir, I don't like the
answer, "Nothing will happen. No one has the advantage over the
other now". The answer has so many assumptions and yet confidence?
Mohan: So you are ready to throw
in the towel? Donít think our military is unprepared. Or our
leadership. But we must keep our guard up.
Sam: Hi! Do you believe that
sooner or later the rising prosperity & the inevitable economic
disparity will eventually lead to a clamour for political rights,
resulting in big bang civil strife a la Soviet Union. Should we plan
for that eventuality, sell this theory & emerge as a parallel
investment & manufacturing destination for the West.
Mohan: China is having its first
ever local elections now. Its leadership has targetted 2020 when it
will become an "advanced democracy". That presumably means
multiparty elections. There are quite many public demonstrations and
disturbances in China even now. The procurator general of China
reported 87,000 disturbances last year. So people are demanding more
and want greater transparency. There is a great deal of corruption
and rapaciousness in China now. But the important thing is that the
leadership seems aware of the problem and is working hard to sort
Neel: Mr Guruswamy. What is the
difference between an Indian communist and Chinese communist?
Mohan: An Indian communist is a
fellow who has not learnt anything since Stalin died and a Chinese
communist today is a fellow who has forgotten Mao. A senior Chinese
official once told me that "it seems that you have too many
communists in India"
Anjan: Our leaders whimper if
China does a wrong. They can't speak loudly, except George Fernandes.
As if they are our big brothers. 1962 still haunts us. But look at
Vietnam, they don't care a damn!
Mohan: Our leaders are generally
RSG: Sir, where do you personally
see the Sino-Indian relationship headed?
Mohan: I have already answered
this. I think the future looks good. We both need to discard some
old baggage and perceptions. If you are in China you can see their
perception that India is ganging up with the USA to contain them.
This is not true either. But some people on both sides are always
willing to believe the worst about the other.
Ramananda: Sir, how does having
the left as a part of our government influence our policy towards
Mohan: It is better to have them
inside the tent pissing outside rather than outside pissing inside.
Ramananda: And also, what kind of
a relationship does the Indian Left really have with the Chinese
communist party? Are they really in cahoots?
Mohan: The Chinese leadership has
got its priorities clear. In Nepal they supported the King and said
in no uncertain terms that the so-called Maoists were adventurists
who need to be crushed. The Chinese have not supported any of our
so-called Maoists either. The Indian leftists are quite happy
running a few errands for the Chinese and China least wants a
communist regime in India. Mind you China has had trouble with all
itís communist neighbors. USSR, Vietnam.
Rajesh: Can India & China
collaborate more in search of oil.
Mohan: We have begun in Sudan and
elsewhere. Letís see how the future unfolds. It needs two hands to
clap. Thanks guys. I have to go.
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