Most sections in China don’t want War with India

In a telling piece in the Chinese Global Times, senior sitting PLA officer Major General Qiao Liang has criticised hawks within the Chinese establishment who have been demanding military action against India after the Doklam episode. The article is being seen as the official Chinese government response to hardliners unhappy with Beijing’s agreement with New Delhi that resolved the Doklam standoff. According to Qiao, the Doklam confrontation was solved in the way it should have been as no effort should be spared to avoid war and preserve peace. Coming ahead of the important Chinese Communist Party congress next month that will determine the next batch of top leaders, the viewpoint expressed in the article is indeed significant.

For, there’s no denying the fact that the Chinese Communist Party is not a monolith. And Chinese President Xi Jinping is being politically opposed by functionaries belonging to the Shanghai group and deep-red hardliners. But within these different factions, there are those who believe that maintaining good relations with India is imperative for peace, development and security. In fact, the present ruling dispensation in Beijing wants to advance business and economic ties with India and take advantage of the latter’s huge market. But there are also those within the Communist Party who want to embarrass the leadership. And India is a good political handle for them.

This is not unlike the way different political parties in India function. For example, some Indian political parties like the CPM are averse to close ties with the US. But that doesn’t mean this is true for all political parties in India. It’s because of the party-state system in China that people think that the Chinese Communist Party always sports complete unanimity. However, this is far from the truth and internal deliberations within the Chinese system can be as contentious as in any democracy.

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So what does this mean for India-China relations? Stakeholders on both sides must realise that their counterparts operate according to the conditions of their own political systems. Hence, one should guard against one section of the Indian or Chinese polity hijacking the narrative on India-China relations. And the best way to ensure this is through deepening of mutual engagements. If mutual distrust is reduced and cooperation enhanced, then hawks on both sides won’t be able to corner the pragmatists or subvert the bilateral relationship. Thus, it is important to remember that there are people in both India and China that want positive bilateral ties. And strengthening this constituency is the key to overall peace, development and stability.

By : Rudroneel Ghosh




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