India Uncut

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

China, Taiwan, Pakistan and Mao

The one address in the blogosphere to go to if you want to read about India's foreign policy is Nitin Pai's fine blog, The Acorn. Nitin writes in regarding a post I'd done on Sunday, "India's obsession", in which I'd cited Vir Sanghvi's latest column approvingly. Nitin found to much to disagree with, and emailed me as I have disabled comments on this blog. He took issue, especially, with Sanghvi's line: "Does China assess its foreign policy priorities on the basis of how other countries treat Taiwan?” (Sanghvi mentioned it in the context of what he saw as the Indian tendency to look at foreign affairs through the prism of Pakistan, and meant it, no doubt, as a rhetorical question.)

Nitin writes:
The answer is yes, China does get very nervy when it comes to how other countries treat Taiwan. China's response to other countries' relations with Taiwan is deliberately irrational. [China] proactively goes all out to marginalise Taiwan at international fora. Indeed, this strategy has been rather successful for China.

Not that I agree with Sanghvi's comparison with China on that front ... Taiwan does not hold a gun to China's head, neither does it promise to self-destruct.

Nitin’s point is valid, although I’d think that when Chinese diplomats brings up Taiwan, it is a strategic or a tactical move, with specific aims in mind. On the other hand, when Indian diplomats bring up Pakistan, it is reflexive, part of an attitude that is now outdated. The conflict between India and Pakistan is a negative-sum game, and while we can’t wish it away, Sanghvi's point was that we shouldn’t focus on it to the exclusion of all else in the region.

One pressing problem that we haven’t been bothered about enough: the Maoists of Nepal and India, who are working together to create, in the words of an Indian Express editorial, “a Naxal corridor from Nepal to Nellore”. Indian blunders exacerbated the situation in Kashmir in the 1980s, and this time, the fire won’t be restricted to just one state.
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