Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Missing the Chinks in the Chinese Wall

I’m beginning to wonder if the entire Indian foreign affairs commentariat shouldn’t be hauled off to a Chinese re-education camp.

Not a single pundit got it right in parsing the joint statement issued by Presidents Obama and Hu Jintao at the end of the American leader’s visit to China on 18 November.

All of them were hot and bothered by a paragraph in the statement that said the US and China “welcomed all efforts conducive to peace, stability and development in South Asia,” supported “the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan,” and were “ready to strengthen communication, dialogue and cooperation on issues related to South Asia and work together to promote peace, stability and development in that region.”

Why did they find that disturbing?

Swapan Dasgupta, The Times of India’s dependably obtuse analyst, explained it all in a column titled “China Tames India With Help From Obama.”

According to him Obama had “repuidiated the Bush doctrine of nurturing India to offset China’s dominance in Asia” and was “a giant step forward” for Beijing, which had “secured United States endorsement for taking an active interest in South Asia, including India.” The two presidents, had “agreed that India for all its potential as a rising economic Power, doesn’t yet qualify for a place on a high table; it remains bound in a hyphenated relationship with an imploding Pakistan.”

I wonder if he actually read the statements, joint and individual, made by Obama and Hujintao.

If he did, how could he miss the numerous and clear indications that the two presidents were not sitting comfortably at a “high table” dispensing the order of Asia?

China is still nervous about Taiwan, American criticism of its human rights record, and about being pressured to depart from to its own “development model” (as if enslaving its population to foreign corporations is a viable “path” of its own choosing).

Obama rubbed Hujintao’s face in the human rights and sovereignty issues by telling him to begin a dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama.

Can you imagine such fundamental differences in any Indo-American statement? The basic reality of the US-China relationship is that it is adversarial. America has embraced China in order to push it towards democracy, a prospect the ruling "Communist" clique can hardly view with enthusiasm.

The reference to South Asia should be seen as Washington telling Beijing in the most diplomatic way possible to stop supporting Pakistan against India.

We should give it a round of rousing applause.

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