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'China doesn't have the military might to do another 1962'

November 18, 2006 04:00 IST
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As part of our special series on the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to India, we brought 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, to answer questions on issues like the ones that bedevil relations between India and China and a lot more.

Transcript of the chat:

Mohan Guruswamy says, Hi, I am here to take your questions on the visit of the Chinese President Hu Jintao to India.

pradeep asked, Good evening Mr. Guruswamy. My question is, is it possible for china to think of a military solution to the boundary issue? Thanks.
Mohan Guruswamy answers, 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 at very much their claim line pre 1962.

Manish asked, My message is : Be aware of China. Don't be fooled by their outer behaviour.. China can anytime back-bite us..
Mohan Guruswamy answers, 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 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 2035-40. So why screw it all up with unneccessary paronia.

ramananda asked, sir how do the Chinese perceive India? strategically and otherwise? What does the man on the street think about India?
Mohan Guruswamy answers, 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. Pretty the mirror opposite of the view from the street in India. The elites 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 teh past behind and resolve existing issues. We must engage them with a clear mind and with confidence.

ramananda asked, and also, do you agree with the theory that better economic will automatically foster better political ties?
Mohan Guruswamy answers, Chian is already India's biggest market for manufactured goods. Its because of software the US becomes number one for us. Better ties have come with improved economies and improved military strengths.

ramananda asked, sir, what was the chinese thinking behind raising the arunachal issue just before Hu's visit?
Mohan Guruswamy answers, 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 teh 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. Its now been internalised into India. But do not forget that even teh Dalai Lama has not stated a position on this still inspite of being asked to do so several times.

pradeep asked, Inspite of the cultural affinity with India Why China choose to join hand with enemies of India?
Mohan Guruswamy answers, There is little cultural affinity between India and China. I dont 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 diplomats play.

Jay asked, How realistic is Pak China nuke deal? What are its implication on India, US & Asia
Mohan Guruswamy answers, It is real. the Pak bomb is a Chinese bomb Type 153 and teh Pak missile is an old Chinese missile got via North Korea. But whats 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 asked, mr guruswamy, what are your views on this perception that China is 'encircling' us? and if it is, what can India do about it?
Mohan Guruswamy answers, They are expanding their area of influence. Dont 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 teh Indian Ocean. China is the weakest player here.

Rajeev asked, Dear Sir, Dont 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 foriegn policy decisions and always put on defensive. Why ???
Mohan Guruswamy answers, I agree

rsg asked, sir, what is the main objective behind Hu's visit? What would make it a success, or a failure?
Mohan Guruswamy answers, 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 asked, 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 Guruswamy answers, 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 iswith India or conflict with India is not amomng them

Manish asked, We should have supported Tibet and should'nt have allowed China to take over. China will gradually eat away 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 future..
Mohan Guruswamy answers, 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 neighbor. There is no reaon why China and India cannot be peaceful and even friendly neighbors

faraaz asked, If we go to war now which country do u think has the military advantage ??
Mohan Guruswamy answers, Nothing will happen. No one has the advantage over teh other now. teh Indian military is good enough to sort out any problems.

tiger asked, Tigerskins 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 Guruswamy answers, True tiger skins and bones are traded in China and Tibet. The Chiese authorities have now taken note of our concerns are are cracking down. But people will contnue 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 countries

anurag asked, why he is coming in india
Mohan Guruswamy answers, He has unfinished business here. I think he also wants to sample a good Indian meal

Jay asked, Do you think India should strongly ally with Japan to correct the strategic balance in Asia?
Mohan Guruswamy answers, What will Japan do. It is China's biggets trading partner and biggest overseas investor. Dont bank on Japan for anything. As far as geopolitics is concerned it is little more thatn a US satellite

Jay asked, Should we agree to Chinese investment in sensitive areas like ports & telecomm's
Mohan Guruswamy answers, What is sensitive about a port of telecom. A civil contractor having built a port just moves on. Telecom is already open to FDI. I dont see any great security implications. Dont forget India tapped into Musharaff's telephone call from Beijing to Islamabad without having access to a telecom company in China..

pradeep asked, Mr. Guruswamy, how do you see India and China in the second half of this century? are they going to be equals?
Mohan Guruswamy answers, I thinks by the midpoint of this century India will be ahead, provided we dont 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 teh bureaucracy and decentralize government. Neither is happening. Our PM keeps talking about it but even halfway down his term has done precious little.

Sam asked, Sir, I don't like the answer "Nothing will happen. No one has the advantage over teh other now". The answer has so much of assumptions and yet confidence !
Mohan Guruswamy answers, So you are ready to throw the towel in? Dont think our military is unprepared. Or our leadership. But we must keep our guard up.

san asked, 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 parallel investment &manufacturing destination for the west
Mohan Guruswamy answers, Chian is having its first ever local elections now. Its leadership has targetted 2020 when it will become an "advanced democracy". That presumably means multipart elections.

san asked, 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 parallel investment &manufacturing destination for the west
Mohan Guruswamy answers, There are quite many public demonstrations and disturbances in China even now. The procurator general of China reported 87000 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 teh important thing is that teh leadership seems aware of the problem and is working hard to sort them out.

neel asked, Mr guruswamy. What is the difference between India communist and chinese communist?
Mohan Guruswamy answers, 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 asked, Our leaders whimper if China does a wrong.They can't speak loudly.( except George fernandes)As if they are our big brothers.'62 still haunts us. but look at Vietnam , they don't care a damn!
Mohan Guruswamy answers, Our leaders are generally wimps.

rsg asked, sir, where do you personally see the Sino-Indian relationship headed?
Mohan Guruswamy answers, 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 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 teh other.

ramananda asked, Sir, How does having the left as a part of our government influence our policy towards China?
Mohan Guruswamy answers, It is better to have them inside the tent pissing outside rather than outside pissing inside

ramananda asked, And also, what kind of a relationship does the Indian left really have with the Chinese communist party? Are they really in cahoots?
Mohan Guruswamy answers, 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 adeventurists 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 communsit regime in India. Mind you China has had trouble with all ist communist neighbors. USSR, Vietnam

Rajesh asked, Can India & China collaborate more in search of OIL
Mohan Guruswamy answers, We ahve begun in Sudan and elsewhere. Lets see how the future unfolds. It needs two hands to clap. Thanks guys. I have got to go.

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