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HVK Archives: What's historic? - A letter on Chinese President's visit to India

What's historic? - A letter on Chinese President's visit to India - The Times of India

Dr Sonali Hazarika, Melbourne (Australia) ()
24 December 1996

Title : What's Historic? - A letter on Chinese President's visit to India
Author : Dr Sonali Hazarika, Melbourne (Australia)
Publication : The Times of India
Date : December 24, 1996

The recent visit of Chinese President Jiang Zemin to India received wide
adulatory coverage in the national press, with commentators tripping over
each other to underline the "significance" of the visit and the "momentous"
nature of the new confidence-building agreement. This cajolery was out of
sync with ground realities.

First, China remains an irreconcilable foe of India, as reflected by its
continued assistance to Pakistan in the area of weapons of mass destruction
and its India-related intelligence and naval activities in Myanmar. India has
to be wary of China's deceptive cooing, or else it would again be caught
off-guard, as in 1950 (occupation of Tibet) and 1962 (Chinese invasion).

Second, the visit produced no breakthrough. The new agreement signed was
near-replica, almost clause by clause, of the 1993 "historic" agreement
signed by then Prime Minister, Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao. Both agreements are
based on principles rather than on an agreed course of action. They state
identically that both sides "shall not" use force against each other and that
they will seek to reduce border troops, avoid large military exercises near
the border, hold flag meetings of border commanders and clarify the line of
actual control, which remains unclear despite negotiations since 1981.

The Times of India headlined the news on the agreement as an event in which
the two nations "re-tied the Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai rakhi". Who was the
sister in this rakhi-tying? Was the news item suggesting that India was
willing to undergo a sex change in order to court China?

The official Indian establishment also is guilty of overplaying the visit.
While few would question Prime Minister Deve Gowda's action in receiving the
Chinese leader at the airport, where was the need for the demeaning second
breach of protocol in also seeing him off? When Mr Rajiv Gandhi and Mr
Narasimha Rao went to Beijing, the Chinese strictly observed protocol. So why
this obsequious Indian attitude towards a rival which has betrayed India in
the past and continues to damage India's interests in every possible way?
The irony is that Mr Deve Gowda breached protocol the second time to wish Mr
Jiang bon voyage to Pakistan, which the Chinese leader added to his itinerary
to send a clear political message to India. Also, Mr Jiang deliberately
brought the Chinese-installed governor of occupied Tibet in his delegation
and no one in India raised an eyebrow.

In dealings with India's smaller neighbours, the present coalition government
in Delhi says, India as the larger country, should show magnanimity - a
principle reflected in the generous water-sharing agreement with Bangladesh.
But in its dealings with the mightier China, India does not seek the
application of that very principle. Rather, it behaves like a fawning poodle.
The nation's governing elites should reflect upon this dichotomy.

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