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Sino-U.S. Joint Statement frays nerves of India

19:23, November 24, 2009

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By Li Hongmei People's Daily Online

Indian side has all these days got perturbed waking or sleeping by the U.S. President Barack Obama's debut visit to China, and the joint statement he signed with the Chinese President Hu Jintao has especially driven Indians crazy. Some Indian media have already gone out of their way to decry the U.S. "missteps" for introducing China to South Asia to "tame India."

Obama administration, according to their perception, has strayed from the traditional U.S. doctrine of nurturing India to offset China's dominance in Asia. It has, instead, sent to China a positive signal to act as a tangible party to the problems in South Asia, as spokesman for Indian Foreign Ministry, Vishnu Prakash, said in response to the joint statement that "a third-country role cannot be envisaged nor is it necessary" to solve the troubles between India and Pakistan.

As it is, what is a dull ache to India is nothing more than the assumption that Washington is leaning too closely to China, its fancied arch-rival in the region, and hence Beijing would use Obama's hand to tame India. The acute concerns of the kind would possibly cast shadow on its PM Manmohan Singh's high-profile four-day U.S. trip, starting Sunday. The oversensitive Indian officials even noted that in a speech on U.S. relations in Asia delivered in Tokyo, Obama did not mention India.

More over, it seems to be a larger story to those Indians, who have already self-cultivated a ludicrous concept of being the regional power, that the joint statement agreed that India "doesn't yet qualify for a place on a high table". Seething with deep frustration and disillusioned by the Obama administration's "reset" Asia diplomacy, Indian Hawks would find Obama's overdose of coaxing and flattery poured upon the PM's Washington visit a waste of time and energy, as they need a crystal clear showcase that the U.S., although a dwindling power itself, would on any account embolden India to act as the regional counterweight to China.

And by no means should the U.S. enter into a "secret" liaison with China, as defied India's analysis. Its influential The Economic Times newspaper commented on Nov.22 that "the taming of India has been a colossal victory of Chinese diplomacy. During Obama's visit, China secured everything it wanted—the political dividends of funding $ 800 billion debt to an ailing U.S. economy." (Referring to the $ 800 billion in U.S. treasury securities held by China) Through the media comments of the kind, and perceived from India's over reactions to the seemingly recalibrated American Asia strategy, India is suffering a vexed sense of exclusion, feeling marginalized by its backbone partner, the U.S.

Actually speaking, India does not have to belittle itself to such an extent that it has to hide in the wings of a super power. Since its 1998 nuclear test, India has ascended into the galaxy of a few nuclear-armed states. In recent years, its economy has seen a rapid growth and already listed as one of the emerging economies along with China, Brazil and Russia, contributing to the term of BRICs. Furthermore, its political and military strategies have basically completed the international transformation.

Why India keeps gnawing at China's rising international clout does not only lie in its long-term worry of ‘China Threat" but more in its colonial mentality ---to conquer or to be conquered. Also, it is the mindset of "predator or prey" that would lure India into political pitfalls misguiding it in making strategic decisions.

Viewed from the diplomatic prism, India is stepping ambitiously onto a path to allying itself with as more forces as it sees fit to be allied with. In its desperate attempt to present itself as a power, India has exerted its strength to the utmost to increase the arms purchase. In the meantime, it cannot afford to let go Uncle Sam's favor.

On the other hand, China has firmly adhered to the non-alignment diplomacy. Even if it is catapulted to a world power one day, it will share the table with all the others, be it neighbor or power, as equals. China has its fine traditions of always keeping a proper measure of itself, and taking pride in being neither haughty nor humble. And in the early days of reforms, the late leader Deng Xiaoping set the basic formula for China's global conduct as "observing developments soberly, meeting challenges calmly, remaining free of ambition, and never claiming hegemony."

As a matter of fact, China has consistently maintained a low-key position in dealing with international affairs refraining from any muscle-flexing expressions.

Evidently, it is none other than India who dreads missing the sedan chair of the U.S., hoping to be lifted together with Uncle Sam as a visible power. China is going its own way to the peaceful rise.

The article represents the author's view only. It does not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.

The articles in this column represent the author's views only. They do not represent opinions of People's Daily or People's Daily Online.

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About this column

Li Hongmei, editor and columnist of PD Online.


Li HongLi Hong

After 19 years working for China Daily and its website, Li Hong moved to english.people.com.cn in March 2009.

Li has been a reporter and column writer, mainly on China's economy and politics.

He was graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and once studied in University of Hawaii and the Poynter Institute in Florida.

Gavin Jon MowatGavin Jon Mowat

Gavin Jon Mowat, editor and columnist for People's Daily Online.

As a graduate from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, UK, Gavin came to Beijing 2 years ago to study Chinese.

Enjoying the culture and traditions of the orient so much, Gavin has since left his home in Scotland and is now living and working in China.

Gavin uses his background in writing to share his experiences of China with you at People's Daily Online.