India, China should work together to make it Asia’s century

By Sawraj Singh (Global Times, 22 September 2018) – There is growing perception in the world that India is abandoning its traditional non-alignment policy and leaning toward the US. This has dampened the spirit of Panchsheel (the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence). Such an impression is neither good for India nor for the rest of the world. India should help in trying to solve global conflicts rather than becoming party to them. The 2+2 meeting between the Indian defense and foreign ministers and their American counterparts in early September did very little to dispel the perception that the Indian tilt toward the US is continuing. India should realize that as an important country in the world, it should not become subservient to the US in regional and world affairs.

India has surpassed France to become the sixth largest economy of the world and has become the fourth strongest military power after the US, Russia and China. It is finding more areas of cooperation with China. Even though there are some areas of disagreement between the two countries, areas of agreement are far more prominent. American pressuring of the two countries with “America First” and the new trade policy of coercion and sanctions are also pushing the two nations together. The sooner the two countries come together, the sooner the reality of Asia’s century will become apparent.

Based upon GDP, India has moved to the sixth place after the US, China, Japan, Germany and the UK. Soon it will surpass the UK to move to the fifth position. However, GDP does not tell you the whole truth. The purchasing power parity (PPP) is closer to ground reality. If we take PPP into consideration, then the standing of the countries will be different, with China most likely in the first place, the US second and India in the third.

Even if we continue to use GDP as the only criterion for economic standings, things are going to change soon. I feel that by 2030, the standings are going to be most likely: China first, followed by the US and India. By 2050, it can be China first, with India second and the US in the third place. Sooner or later, the world is going to realize that Asia’s century has already dawned.

China was the first to assert that the 21st century is going to be Asia’s century. It took much longer for India to accept the fact that the balance of power has shifted to the East, and Asia is now the leading region of the world, in contrast to the earlier two centuries when Europe or America were the leading regions. It is a welcome sign that India is now trying to correct its tilt to the West which it developed after the fall of the Soviet Union. Somehow, India has been unable to convince its neighbors or friends that it is seriously and sincerely trying to correct its tilt.

India has to do more to dispel the perception that it is lining up with the US to contain China. It is true that India has some differences with China, particularly on the border dispute. However, New Delhi should realize that the border conflict is primarily a legacy of colonialism rather than a Chinese creation. India and China have many areas where their interests converge.

China’s rise of becoming the manufacturing hub and the engine which drives the world economy made India reconsider its perception of global realities, and in a way, convinced it of its own potential and claim to be a world power, because an Asian and a non-Western country can also become the leading power of the world. In a way, China helped India gain self-confidence and self-respect. We can hope that India will continue and strengthen its Look East policy, and find more areas of commonality with China so that the two largest countries of Asia can work together for the dawn of a new era in the world.

It is a very good development that China is looking positively at India’s rise. India should also start to look at China more as a partner and less as a competitor in Asia’s century. Together, the two countries can send a message to the world that unlike the Western-dominated world, Asia’s century will not mean domination and hegemony of Asia, but the end of domination and hegemony of any one country, region, race, color, religion or philosophy. Relations between countries, regions, races, colors and religions will be based on equality, tolerance and mutual respect. These principles were given to the world by Panchsheel, which were developed jointly by India and China. We should revive the spirit of Panchsheel today.

The author is chairman of Washington State Network for Human Rights and chairman of Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. [email protected]


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