The Dalai Lama’s 86th birthday, celebrated on Tuesday, made headlines here for an unusual reason – PM Modi had greeted the Tibetan spiritual leader. The public acknowledgement is, of course, a subtle recalibration in the China policy as he’s persona non grata for China. However, it also shows the limited number of cards India has as it confronts a belligerent China.
China recently celebrated the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC). India’s challenge was amplified in the speech delivered by Xi Jinping. Its tenor signalled a China that will be even more confrontational. It poses a tricky challenge. Especially since commanders from the two militaries are scheduled to meet, for the 12th time, to work out a disengagement from friction points on the LAC in eastern Ladakh.
After China’s unilateral ingress last year, in violation of existing border agreements, India negotiated a disengagement this year at one friction point – Pangong Tso. However, there has been no progress on disengagement in Demchok, Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang. China’s actions and their scale have altered the bilateral relationship. GoI has begun to scale back the economic engagement. Noticeably, in keeping China out of the forthcoming 5G transition and parts of the tech market.
An important takeaway for India is that the size and the sophistication of the domestic economy matters in securing strategic interests. China’s increasing belligerence has accompanied its growing economic clout that is backed by a $14.7 trillion GDP. As India works on its economic transformation, it should deepen its ties with Taiwan, a global leader in semiconductors. Deepening ties will simultaneously serve India’s economic interests and send China a message. Being deferential to China’s sensitivities won’t help India’s cause.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.