Can China afford blocking India internationally?

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By: Zubair Rashid 
A newly formed India, under the leadership of Nehru, had tried to create the great interchange which existed between India and China throughout their history. This noble dream would fail when China attacked India in October 1962. The concept of a rise of an Asia dedicated to lifting billions of people out of poverty became a project which would be done independently by these counties. China would embark on a very different road than India, in fact it would change course in 1970 by joining American foreign policy breaking the Communist world. China aspired not to be second to the Soviet Union but to surpass it.

A mixed economy of state funded exporting regions would soon be developed in China starting in 1978 and these zones would, in time, greatly increase China’s G.D.P as much as by late 1990’s China was on a growth trajectory rarely seen in history. India on the contrary stood with its original philosophy of having a closed economy. This would, by the mid 1970’s, actually give India an advantage over China and this continued until about 1990 in many areas. However the failures of China decades before 1980 would be soon recovered as manufacturing took off in the 1990’s. India in 1992 opened its economy but did not bring forth the results which had been hoped for.

Unlike China, India would rely heavily on the newly emancipated public sector to create manufacturing. However with flows of Foreign Direct Investment into India, this private sector simply sold assets to foreign companies to capitalize on the trade. This can be seen in the sale of epic Indian Icon’s such as Limca and Campa Cola which were sold at rock bottom prices in terms of their worth today. China did not engage in such arbitrarily selling of state assets or private companies. Today the approach can be seen to have failed India as a manufacturing economy. This sense of superior development has made China believe it has advantages which would allow it sustain dramatically superior global influence.
Chinese Exports
China today has a tremendous manufacturing advantage over India. Both economies are being hurt by America’s new aversion to free trade and the movement of people. Thus, China’s manufacturing sector and India’s service sector are feeling this change of economics. Throughout the period of relatively unhindered access to Western Markets, China developed a sense of complacency and used its clout in the U.N. to prevent any rise of Indian Stature on the Global Scene. China has traditionally refused to expand the Security Council as this would allow India and several other nations to enter. Much of this was supported by the U.S. traditionally, as the idea of India even entering this sphere was traditionally viewed as having a Pro-Soviet state present. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, new reasons were made up to keep India away from this position and the economic size of India became a key problem.
Manufacturing in India
Finally in the early 2000’s, India’s economy began to grow rapidly. Much of this happened not just from Foreign Direct Investment but instead from a far simpler source. The demographics of India turned favorable for the first time since the end of Mughal India. India had raised a generation of people who had not lived through famine and grew up in a food sufficient nation. They could aspire to live professional lives and not simply subsist as they had under the British Empire. For nearly two centuries only the elite of India had enough money left to educate their family members and were able to provide economic opportunities for them in Family run concerns or landholdings. This pattern had been broken by P.M. Nehru’s land reforms and emphasis of providing education and basic health care to all Indians. Though much has been said about this not being successful, an entire historical debate is still out on this foregone conclusion.
China did not see the Indian economic explosion coming. Nor did its central planners realize they had committed a blunder with the “One Child Policy”. China’s work force has begun falling, forcing wages to reach ever higher limits. Even with a correction in policy, the effects will take 30 years to begin to show change. India has no such issue and it has the world’s largest pool of young people with large sector of skilled work force. These changes have made it unlikely that China would attempt to attack India.
China today needs India to make its idea of a BELT concept work. It also needs India as a continuously viable market for its exports and to accomplish these goals, it will need to rethink its concept of keeping India from attaining full potential as a global force diplomatically. Restricting India’s rise is only going to restrict China’s own economic growth and the policy makers of that country need to understand that sometimes the Bridge Keeper holds the key to your future more than you think.
The pragmatic aspect is that Modern China did not reciprocate the benevolent overtures of Prime Minister Nehru’s age of innocence, when a new Nation believed that humanity was the reason for the existence of states and societies, when the pursuit of military victories and the accumulation of capital was simply believed to be the goals of an age which would now change by the freedom obtained by India and China from colonial powers. But this road was closed in 1962, and India had to travel a road where China supported every force to stop India’s journey. Yet, India’s road is now needed by those who so vigorously wanted it to end. Such is the way historical cycles work, for every statistic and economic indicator is of no use without it’s correlation to this factor.

The writer is a PG student at department of politics and governance, Central university of Kashmir.

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