Updated: Dec 17, 2021
EVENT DATE : 10 DECEMBER
• Dr Raman opened the discussion; he argues that no doubt there are power rivalries between China and India and these power rivalries are much more than just economic or military based. China has no doubt created a robust economy and is setting the standard in many fields like technology and defense. However, if there is anyone in Asia who can stand up to China, it is India.
• Dr Pathak then argues that the recent pressure that China has applied in the Line of Actual Control, will change the dynamics between India and China. Militarily, there is no questioning the Indian response to China but beyond that, we need to do much more to stand up to China, in terms of economic sanctions and we need to reduce our reliance on China in order to effectively stand up to China. We also need to strengthen our human resources, through investments in education and health care, if we want to actually be a competitive challenger to China
• Dr Bhardwaj then spoke about India's demographic advantage compared to China. India has a demographic advantage but we haven't been able to exploit our demographic advantage. We need to take some drastic steps if we want to use our demographic advantage to the maximum. Newer technologies like AI have actually blunted the advantage that we have in terms of demography, China is much more ahead of us when it comes to newer technologies, artificial intelligence etc. Much of what China may lose in terms of its older population, they will gain in terms of the technological leap they are taking. There is no doubt that India can stand up to China, the question however remains on which approach we take. We can either cooperate with China, confront China or compete with China. We have been competing with China all these years and we have been quite successful. The central premise however is that whether we like it or not, we cannot ignore China. China is too powerful to be ignored. He also argues that we cannot drain our resources in trying to restrain China. If China goes and buys a port in Sri Lanka, it is not necessary for us to go buy something there as well! We cannot tackle China this way. The long-term strategy has to rest on our growth and our capability to innovate. Another important aspect is that our excessive focus on China should not let us ignore other geo-strategic issues that are there in the region
• Dr Ranjan argues that there is a power dilemma between India and China. There is a political power dilemma between the countries. When it comes to India banning China's apps, we need to see the larger picture. India has three options when it comes to dealing with China, band wagoning, balancing or hedging. India and China have cooperated with each other on quite a few issues like Climate change and the BRICS bank. We need to ensure that the border clashes between our countries are ended.
Dr Narayan argues that India cannot stand up to China!
• He argues that India has not been able to get over what happened in 1962. He further goes on to say that India in reality does not even have the willingness to stand up to China, forget about capabilities. India does not have a position on how to deal with China. The perceptions people in India have towards China is not the same as how the government sees China. India is also very dependent on China. We need to see China not just as a Westphalian state but also as a civilizational encroacher. He also states that China is a very insecure country, especially with regard to Tiber. He also states that the Chinese Communist party is filled with factions.
• Dr. Kewalramani argues that the focus of our foreign policy should not be standing up to China. We need to focus on increasing the welfare of all Indians, this needs us to take many policy decisions at home. Foreign policy does not get created in a vacuum. There is a strong link between domestic policy and foreign policy. He argues that our relationship with China will be difficult but there will be areas where both countries will cooperate. There is no doubt that there will be tensions between both our countries. The Chinese have also used trade for political ends. We need to look at trade with China from a strategic point of view. We should not worry too much about cheap Chinese goods flooding our economy, we need to be more cautious about certain areas where strategic vulnerabilities are being created,APIs for example is one such area. We need trade with China as it is a stabilizing factor and is in our interests. China's path to power has been through its economic growth, India too needs to focus on economic growth and development the same way, other smaller goals like getting an UNSC seat should not be too much of a concern for us. He goes on to say that China views India as a regional power, at present is not much of a threat for them at the moment. But they do acknowledge that India can pose a challenge to them in the future. They see India lacking in instruments of power. The big competition for China is still the United States.
• Dr. Narayan then spoke about how it serves vested interests in India, to show China as a threat. He argues India has imposed shackles on itself when it deals with China. He agrees that foreign policy and domestic policy are deeply connected. Our foreign policy is very personality centric and is not decided by the government, this makes it very constrained. We say act east, but we are looking west!
• Dr Bhardwaj then spoke about the role that the United States and other foreign powers have played in the Indo-pacific. China is undoubtedly a maritime power but to tackle China, we have brought in a number of powers who have a past history of colonialism! Who have their own interests at play? He argues that we need to be careful who we bring in when we are dealing with China. He says that we should not get sucked into this power play and we need to focus more on our domestic economy and human development. It would not make sense for us to waste resources on trying to sink China. We do not need to manage the asymmetric power balance between our countries. We need to maintain our strategic autonomy. China sees India as too aligned to the west and therefore the distrust between China and India is too much.
• Dr Raman agrees with Mr. Kewalramani that India's foreign policy cannot be China centric. However, we cannot afford to not deal with China either. He also agrees with Dr. Bharadwaj that our relationship with China should not be preemptive, rather, much of what we have to do in terms of dealing with China, has to be done independently. There is an obsession with military statistical data but we need to focus more on the economic and development sphere. He also argues that China is fast setting standards in various industries and their economic might is tremendous. He also states that we align with the United States more because it is more convenient for us, we understand the US much better.
• Dr. Ranjan agrees that India needs to both focus on economic growth and we also need to pursue political goals like becoming a permanent member of the UNSC. We need to have a synergic balance between economic power and political power.
• Dr Narayan then states that India needs to focus more on economic decentralization, the way China has done. He argues that India needs to do much more in giving states more power to take economic decisions.
• Dr. Kewalramani states the US shifting towards India is purely due to interests and we need to focus much more on economic development. No ally is reliable and interests will shift, we need to keep this in mind. He argues that it is in our interests to balance China, however this does not mean we need to become an ally of the western countries. Every country will work with every country if it is in their interests. He states that unless we have economic growth and development, no amount of balancing will work
Thanks you for initiating and organising this kind of event and invitation to participate.
Looking forward to many more cooperation in future.
Thanks a lot for yesterday’s discussion on whether India can stand upto China. You guys managed to get all on board at right time.
Was a learning experience with multidisciplinary experts and relieved there were no bureaucrats!