An IDC Analysis 


New Delhi, 24 December 2002

At a recent seminar at the USI in mid December a team of five senior USI members, including Lt Gen Nambiar the Director, Rear Admiral Raja Menon and Ambassador Arundhiti Ghosh, were present and gave a vivid impressions of their recent extended visit to China, as invited guests. They were very well received and accorded high attention and hospitality. A serving Chinese colonel accompanied them all along and up to Hong Kong 末 and that speaks volumes of the change in China and their desire to interact with India. Other USI members who are China watchers also chipped in with their views in the discussions.

The team had discussed issues at all important strategic institutions in China and saw Shenzen a business area where no old person lives. They even called on the Chinese Deputy Minster for Defence. It was a landmark learning experience for those who were present. In all meetings the Chinese asked the team to forget the Mao Revolution and the 1962 War as things past and buried, and to look to the future.

It is a pity that we in India were not as knowledgeable about China as they were about us. They displayed a clear strategy to see that as far as possible the LAC became the final border, as India is the only country that had not settled its border with China.

The team conceded that China had made great strides in modernity under strict Government control and they very impressed with all that they saw of that autocratic society 末 which now dresses in mini skirts and western suits 末 they saw just one Mao suit in their long stay. They emphasised that China's top leadership were obsessed with the Economy and had a target of $5000 per capita income by 2020. They openly claimed that they had already doubled India's $400 per capita and were focused on the economic target more than any other. Defence modernisation had taken a back seat but space, rocketry and nuclear issues were very high priority. They were importing defence equipment from Russia just like we do too.

Many commentators in the Indian media and at seminars had expressed that China may see some chaos because the population may demand more freedom 末 we always look at our own openness and democracy. However we feel that if China keeps rising economically it may avoid the breakdown that the Indian media had been predicting for the last few years and still allude to. Those who spoke at the seminar were very knowledgeable on Military and Foreign policy matters and widely exposed to the world, hence their impressions need to be heeded and taken seriously.

In their excellent exposition the team indicated that in all their meetings the statement by India's Defence Minister George Fernandes in May 1998, a day after the Pokran 11 explosions, that China was a prime enemy or words to that effect, were taken very seriously. The team explained that in China there is a TOP DOWN system, where statements of policy made by the higher echelon must be taken seriously. China viewed the Defence Minister's statement as policy. In China they explained that the working level which corresponds to our Joint Secretary level, was only obliged to execute policy and they do it well and seriously. The team had explained to their hosts at length that this was not the case in India and that they should not attach such importance to the Defence Minsiter's statement, but the Chinese did not seem convinced.

IDC would like to add that the Chinese are very haughty and do not like to lose face. If some wrong is done they expect an apology and they extracted one even from USA when it bombed their Embassy in Yugoslavia and crashed PAC Orion in Hanna. China watches India closely as a competitor and values its ties with Pakistan, which irks India. 

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