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Clinton, China and India - The Hindustan Times

Rakshat Puri ()
June 24, 1998

Title: Clinton, China and India
Author: Rakshat Puri
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: June 24, 1998

United States President Bill Clinton begins his China visit this
week. The visit has become an important event for Delhi because
of what appears to be increasingly brazen discrimination by the
Clinton administration in favour of China in the India-China
equation. The pro-China stance is more than ordinarily
astonishing because it seems openly to go against the US's own
strategic interests. China has targeted the US with nuclear
weapons. his is confirmed by the fact that US officials are
reported wanting a Beijing-Washington agreement that would turn
Chinese and American missiles away from targeting each other. If
China continues to add to its military power in the present
situation, which it is doing, it will soon hold a real and
imminent threat for the US.

To remain effective in its dominating position in the post-Cold
War scene, the US would seem to need checks and balances arranged
judiciously among nations in the various regions and continents.
In Asia, the only country that seems potentially to be a suitable
counterweight to China is India. One would have expected Clinton
and his administration to see this. But the barefaced pro-China
sentiments and statements emanating from Washington seem to
dismiss it. There seems studied disregard of US intelligence
reports indicting China on a variety of counts-most of all for
violation of non-proliferation norms.

The latest pro-China statement from Clinton is about China being
made art of any ultimate resolution of India-Pakistan
differences. "I will work with President Jiang", he was reported
saying, "to advance our Asian security agenda, keeping the
pressure on India and Pakistan to curb their nuclear arms race
and to commence a dialogue... As a nuclear power with
increasingly sophisticated industrial and technological
capabilities, China can choose either to be part of the problem
or part of the solution." There seems a deliberate refusal to
note that, in a more than matching endeavour, India is
acknowledged to have lifted itself by its boot-straps to at least
equally sophisticated industrial and technological capabilities.

What can the reason be for Bill Clinton's so insistently
vociferating a pro-China tilt? Two possible reasons come to
mind, one seeming somewhat facile, and the other seeming far-
fetched. The facile reason might be that Clinton is in some way
beholden to China, and is under threat of exposure by those who
support China. The US President is already under a cloud for
receiving election funds from Chinese sources. He is also being
accused of permitting companies such as Loral Space &
Communications to export satellites to China.

The far-fetched reason rests on the fact that Clinton is not
dumb. He can presumably see the growing Chinese threat to the US.
So, in America's own interest, his insistent pro-China tilt could
be aimed deliberately at India, to provoke the country's soft,
timid and small-thinking elite and leadership into an immense,
and effective, kind of anger, so that they might carry the nation
towards its due place in international affairs-a real counter-
balance to China.

In this context Clinton's urge to have China included in the
India-Pakistan talks may not be too difficult to understand.
Consider his cryptic remark, that China "can choose either to be
part of the problem or part of the solution". China would of
course have no role in the India-Pakistan bilateral, independent
discussion on J-K which would be relevant essentially to the
dispute between Islamabad and Delhi. China's inclusion in the
talks would be relevant, rather, to (i) consideration of its
motivated transfer of nuclear and missile technology to Pakistan;
(ii) the Chinese annexation of Aksai Chin; (iii) the Sino-
Pakistani violation of Jammu-Kashmir's UN-deliberation status by
Islamabad's ceding a part of the State under its control to
China; and (iv), in the context of Aksai Chin and other parts of
the India-Tibet border, consideration of the status of Tibet,
which would of course be decided finally by reference to the
Tibetan people. Very likely, it is not really the second reason-
to stiffen India for growth as China's counter-weight-that drives
the Clinton administration to a pronounced pro-China tilt. This
seems to be the message in the reported signing of a Status of
Forces Agreement between Washington and Dhaka for entry and
stationing by the US at will of American troops in Eangladesh.

That being as it is, Clinton would nevertheless have unwittingly
helped this country in a significant way if his pro-China tilt
did force it to turn into a hard state. India needs urgently to
become a hard state with a government capable of seeing far and
taking tough decisions and initiative in defence of national
interests and global convictions. Is this asking for the moon?

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