As China completes its 68 years of communist revolution on October 1, a new debate is on over its geopolitical ambition. Even as its neighbour and ally North Korea is flexing its muscles and the United States is threatening to teach the latter a lesson, China never hesitated in raising its border dispute with India.
Though after two months of tension on Doklam normalcy has returned, yet never in last 55 years the two countries came so close to war. China reminded India of 1962 defeat, upon which India retorted that India of 2017 is not that of 1962.
However, an objective analysis of China’s 68 years of communist rule and India’s 70 years of independence reveals something else. Though Mao Zedong fought Japanese imperialists and the Nationalists (Kuomintang) to establish a communist regime, today China is in all practical purposes a capitalist economy. Mao may have been forgotten, but the name of the ruling party is still the Communist Party of China. India too started as a mixed economy, but since 1991 it has been following the policy of liberalisation. It has emerged as a powerful nation of South Asia.
China has an edge over India as it is both an economic and political power-house, and thus seeking all the global attention. Yet, there is a single party dictatorship in that country. In contrast, India has a thriving democracy. China owes its military might to Mao Zedong and whatever it has achieved economically is largely due to the policies adopted by Deng Xiaoping since late 1970s. It tested atom and hydrogen bombs in early 1960s. It got full help from the then Soviet Union. However, by late 1960s Beijing’s relationship with Moscow started deteriorating and the latter started looking towards India. On the eve of Bangladesh War in December 1971, Soviet Union and India signed Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.
Forty six years later, China and Russia are again great friends. China is trying to encircle India and building ports in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar to boost its trade as well as military presence. It is also trying to improve its economic ties with Bangladesh. Chinese freight trains have reached London. China has built a base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa and has economically penetrated deep into that continent. Its trade ties with Latin American countries too have increased.
India, on the other hand, is relying heavily on its relationship with Japan and the United States. It successfully overcame the Doklam crisis. Its geographic position is considered better than China. Globally important sea lanes are not far-off from its southern coasts and it still has the potential to checkmate China. The bottom-line is that China might have adopted economic liberalisation but politically it has no scope for it. Herein it has to learn from India.
Sarim Ahmed is a trainee journalist associated with ‘The Morning Chronicle’. He is very young and budding in the field of journalism. International affairs is his one of the favourite subjects. If you like this piece, do not hesitate to appreciate Sarim at firstname.lastname@example.org.