I’m back today after a gruelling 12 days’ trip to the Orient, much of the time spent in China. China’s success in every conceivable field, agricultural, industrial, infrastructural, financial and of course defence are giving jitters to the west, which has been maintaining that such luxuries are their monopolistic necessities and not of any developing nation.
From a supplier of cheap goods, though the sobriquet still holds good, China, today produces truffles, olives, wines, meets its industrial needs and its defence machinery, from an aircraft carrier to stealth aircraft. The quality of goods manufactured is comparable to most that the west produces.
China attaches importance to India, our PM Modi, and right now hectic activities are on to make the forthcoming Wuhan meet between Modi and the Chinese President XI, even as EAM Sushma Swaraj is currently in meeting with her counterpart as a precursor to the high-powered meet on the 27th of this month. I met many people from various walks of life who felt that India and China should forge ahead with stronger trust and trade ties, setting other each other prejudices.
The arm-twisting of the US is despised, as one economist friend lamented that the selfish west had utilised China to obtain labour intensive cheaper manufactured products, in the wake of high labour and production costs back home and now is trying to dump it unceremoniously.
The US penal tariffs aimed at punishing China with penal duties in steel and aluminium, disregarding the WTO conflict resolution mechanisms could render the WTO redundant and plunge the world into anarchy unless the US enters negotiations regarding the trade agreements and protocol, experts feel. However, for India, this could be an opportune moment as we try to usher an era of growth and prosperity and need several raw materials and inputs to realise such growth, China capable of providing much of those.
An undeterred China, daring to levy counter tariffs on American imports, is one which has been underestimated by a confident America, which could be now facing an embarrassment, admitting a backfire of another arm-twisting attempt gone awry.
In China, we have a bitter experience of the past, a noisy neighbour often flaunting its muscles in Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir, a country with predictable crafty intentions in wooing our bordering nations, a close ally of our adversary Pakistan and a constant irritant for us in the UN, denying us our rightful place. Despite all the above, both our countries are a billion plus people each, for whom a peaceful co-existence would bode well.
We cannot undo our geographical positions and would have to explore possibilities to usher an era of mutual respect and sovereignty, co-operate to usher an era of Asian prosperity, resulting in world stability. Exchanges at all people-to-people levels, students, tradesmen, culturati and intelligentsia can promote understanding and is the need of the hour.
I hope to write a few parts of my diary on China in the coming days as time would permit, based on my hands-on knowledge and experience gathered. Stay tuned.