Shri. Ram Madhav’s speech to a premier US Think Tank on India-China relations

Thank you Chair.

Friends, I am here to share my views on Indo-China relations not as an intellectual but as a politician, in specific I wish to share my understanding of the ‘new neighbour’ in the last 5-6 decades. However the views expressed here need not necessarily be understood as the views which shape the policies of the Indian Government. 5-6 decades ago, Indian leadership’s ambivalent foreign policy did not contribute to understanding China because we took all countries as alike. The shift has come in the last 5 – 6 decades wherein we have bettered our understanding of the ‘new neighbour’.

China believes in the Middle Kingdom Syndrome, their guiding principle is Han supremacy. The actual Han population in China is stated to be 80% but reality suggests that it is not as high as stated. Another vital guiding principle based on which China strategizes is on the words of Sun Tzu. The role which Sun Tzu has played through his book ‘Art of War’ cannot be understated. The Communist Party of China’s role is all pervasive and the Central Military Commission is a major decision maker.

Today people who view Indo-China relations can be categorised as apologists, pragmatists and hyper realists who see the relations as a threat. According to me, China’s strategy today is largely surrounding 3Es, Engagement through containment, Encirclement of India, and most importantly Encouragement of enemies, that is, those who are not friends with India are encouraged as India’s enemies. Both the countries will remain fierce competitors because of their growing economic prowess, therefore competition is inherent and thus it is not possible to view both of them as great friends. However the challenge today remains to keep the competition healthy.

There are a number of areas where both countries can mutually co-operate and benefit, bilateral trade and counter terrorism strategies are prominent among them. In addition there are a number of other issues such as Sino-Pak nexus, the new Maritime Silk Route, Conflicting interests among the SAARC Countries and Tibet where co-operation can be sought.

Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s policies towards China have changed. During the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s government, there was freezing of issues of conflict, today we have realised that the issues cannot be frozen forever and we are better equipped to handle these issues as well.

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