Compete, cooperate or conflict with China, Tharoor ponders
New Delhi: India and China are two countries whose development is having and will have significant impact on the global system, but the question is whether the two countries will compete, cooperate or even enter into a conflict, says a new book by noted writer and member of parliament Shashi Tharoor.
Advocating cooperation, Tharoor, a former minister of state for external affairs, says in his book: "There are manifest opportunities for cooperation which India should seize, including Chinese companies in the mammoth infrastructure-building tasks needed in our countryover the next two decades (though sensitivity to security concerns may continue to limit Chinese involvement in telecom equipment, portbuilding and some kinds of software devices)."
The book, ‘Pax Indica: India and the World in the 21st Century’, published by Penguin Books, will be released in the capital July 11.
The writer, a former UN under secretary known for his analytical insights into modern India, says "international cooperation is also an obvious win-win, though India should be careful not to let such cooperation mire India in a shared relationship for Chinese policies that are not ours (for example, on climate change, it is odd that India, which has 17 per cent of the world`s population but generates only four percent of its emissions, should make common cause with China, which has 17.5 per cent of the world`s people but generates nearly 20 percent of its emissions)".
"There are certianly issues on which cooperation suits both countries, including on anti-piracy, keeping open the sea lanes of communication across the Indian Ocean, progress on fair and free trade at the World Trade Organisation or the reforms of the Bretton Woods institutions," the book says.
"In other cases, India might well be advised to wait and watch while others take the lead in pushing Beijing; this could result in issues being resolved to our advantage, such as the re-evaluation of the yuan or the effective push-back from the east Asian countries to China`s assertiveness," the MP from Thiruvananthapuram writes.
The book suggests that India should join issues with China only on matters which directly affect it, whether it is the border, the offensive Chinese practice of issuing stapled visas to some Indian nationals, responsible sharing of river waters or the need to reduce the trade deficit.
"Here, our policy has to be deliberate and finely calibrated and must involve a palette of actions, ranging from conciliation to firmness to judicious development of our strategic relations with other countries," Tharoor says in his book.
The parliamentarian believes that "deep disdain for India in Beijing has transformed into grudging admiration in recent years, especially as India has withstood the global economic recession, despite its chaotic democracy.
"We need to ensure that complacency does not again set in on China, by taking proactive steps of our own to strengthen our border infrastucture (woefully deficient by comparison with China`s) and to deepen our maritime capabilities in the Indian Ocean while China is still focused on the northern waters closer to the shores," the book says.
Such naval capacity building could "usefully be buttressed by diplomatic engagement with maritime states in our region, including building up a network of security cooperation arrangements with them", Tharoor argues in the book.
"This does not (and should not) imply belligerent intention; on the contrary, its motive should be purely preventive, for as the old maxim has it, `If you want peace, prepare for war`. New Delhi`s own diplomatic messaging should clear it to Beijing that it has no hostile intentions in attending to its own security parameters," the book says.
The writer sums up by observing that "the world is big enough for India and China, together and separately, to realise developmental aspirations".
Tharoor, who shot to fame in 1989 with his ‘The Great Indian Novel’ has authored seven non-fictions and three fictions.