China's Destructive Policies
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Issue Book Excerpt: Rising India | Date : 11 Apr , 2011

We will argue that the character of Chinese policies has been destructive.

In an atmosphere of high mutual mistrust among the two communist states, and between each and America, Nehru’s diplomatic activism stimulated opposition to Indian policies, a consequence at odds with Nehru’s proclaimed desire to build bridges and settle differences by peaceful diplomatic means. In other words, Nehru’s diplomatic activism made India an object of opposition and a point of friction in the policies of America and China in particular because both saw India in terms of their rivalries with Russia, and Nehru’s pro-Beijing tilt annoyed Washington without any compensating gain for Indian interests from China. Moreover, Nehru’s worldview saw India among four major powers (USA, Russia, China and India) and this clashed with the American theory opposing the rise of regional hegmons – Russia, China, Japan and India in the US government’s view in an official document in 1949.3

The paper argues that the history of great power interventions in Indian policies started with British and American policies in the context of Indo-Pakistani rivalry that was the standard condition of the subcontinent since 1947, but over time the character of Western interventions vis-à-vis India changed and evolved from animosity to indifference to a positive engagement and bridge building with India. The process of interventions by the Western powers in the 1950s led them thereafter to learn lessons from their policy failures with India. But precisely when the Western world was adapting and re-learning their approach, methods and responsibilities in relation to India, the Chinese government changed the character of its India policy and it evolved from a pose of peaceful coexistence (disguise according to Kautliya’s and Sun Tzu’s expectations) to active hostility towards India. We will argue that the character of Chinese policies has been destructive.

It was and still is meant to harm Indian interests. Its approach reflects the power of Chinese combined with Pakistani irredentism and revisionism that is based on a view of India as a sub-regional force in the subcontinent, of Pakistan as an important Chinese client, and of China as the premier Asian superpower (and not Japan or India). China is against American hegemony in areas of interest to China but it favours Chinese hegemony vis-à-vis its neighbours. US government documents will be used to make the case that China has actively promoted the balkanization of India.

Before 1962 Nehrus India was a self-appointed guardian of Chinese interests in Indian representations to the Western powers.

A side issue is that Indian diplomatic practitioners have maintained an accommodative stance with China despite the provocations. This contrasts with public and vocal opposition by Indian officials, academics and the press about various aspects of American, Pakistan and Soviet policies, and the lack of a critical and an objective appraisal of the destructive policies of China. The policy of the pro-Chinese Indian communist party in part explains biases – anti-US and pro-China, and the development of strong Indian defence and deterrent capacities. Today, some important elements in the Manmohan Singh cabinet also project such a bias.4

Since 1949 India’s China policy has expressed an accommodative tone. Before 1962 Nehru’s India was a self-appointed guardian of Chinese interests in Indian representations to the Western powers. The many issues on which a serious rivalry existed between the two were carefully hidden from public discourse as if Indian practitioners were avoiding a public identification about the harmful nature of Chinese policies in relation to India’s northeast and Himalayan areas, its position in Kashmir and Indo-Pakistan relations, its strategic interests in the Indian Ocean and nuclearisation as well as its prestige and influence in the third world and broadly in world affairs.

The contrast was between India’s quiet and accommodative diplomacy in relation to China and its public opposition to several important aspects of American and Pakistani policies. The issue concerns the lack of consistency in the Indian diplomatic method i.e. of the selective use of quiet diplomacy in relation to a power that posed the most serious long term threats to Indian interests (and still does) and the selective application of not so quiet diplomacy in relation to America and Pakistan.

Editor’s Pick

America was attacked politically because it was a symbol of Western capitalism, and the second was attacked politically because it was a symbol of militarized communalism in the subcontinent. Given the circumstances both needed to be discussed and challenged as the basis of modern international relations. But it was a significant omission to ignore the role of China as the state supporter of Pakistan’s policy of militarized communalism and a force that sought India’s balkanization. Moreover, the Indian diplomatic method or tactic did not appreciate the fact that American policy was capable of adapting and re-learning when its policies failed in relation to India as they did on all major issues, but China and Pakistan on the other hand were both driven by irredentist impulses, and politics of hate and revenge stimulated their attitudes and their actions.

In contrast irredentism was not the basis of American or Soviet/Russian policy in India. The presence of a pro-Chinese Indian communist party in India which maintains a close affinity with the Nehru family-dominated Congress party in part explains the biases – anti-US and pro-China, and anti-Indian military development; this is also China’s agenda in relation to India. By comparing the character of American, Soviet and Chinese ‘threats’ to India the destructive aspects of Chinese policies will be clarified. The theme is that Chinese policies (along with Nehru’s) have been destructive for India, and by its support of an anti-democratic and theocratic regime in Islamabad, China may also facilitate the self-destruction of Pakistan.

We now turn to a discussion of these aspects .

Psychological Warfare was the first step in Great Powers Interventions in Indian affairs

In modern and historical international relations and strategy the most important step is not military or economic warfare; it is psychological warfare or a method of action that is meant to convince the audience that ‘black’ is ‘white’ and ‘white’ is ‘black’. Sun Tzu’s advice to his strategists was to organize warfare into a number of important categories. The most important was to disorient the enemy’s mind and use confusion to one’s advantage. Confused minds lack capacity to organize political will and an effective strategy; here psychological warfare could secure the strategic aim without fighting. The second strategy was to disrupt the enemy’s alliances and thereby to weaken its capacity to form external alignments for its security. The third strategy was an admission of failure of the first and the second methods and to fight the enemy’s army; the fourth was to attack the enemy’s cities. Mao followed Sun Tzu and despite the Marxist veneer in Maoism, the method of action was vintage Chinese.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Ashok Kapur

Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

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