A sovereign nation formulates its own policies—economic, political, social, foreign, and so on. It is quite obvious that China doesn’t regard India as a sovereign nation; otherwise, it would not be lecturing us what kind of relations we should maintain with Taiwan. Worse, our foreign office mandarins, by their acts of omission and commission, are encouraging Beijing to dictate our foreign policy. Unsurprisingly, China said yesterday, “The Indian side should remain committed to the ‘One China principle’ and approach Taiwan-related issues prudently and properly.”
Notice “The Indian side should…” As if India were a vassal state of China! This happens when we submit to a bully and try to appease them on every count. We recognize Tibet as an integral part of China, but China doesn’t regard Arunachal Pradesh as Indian territory.
What do our foreign office mandarins do? They placate China. They don’t let India recognize Taiwan as a nation. They also remain silent on the suppression of pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. And they ignore the inhuman treatment meted out to Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and Tibetans, for it hurts Beijing’s sensibilities.
But our sensibilities? Beijing plans, finances, and builds the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through our territory in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. It shields Pakistan-based terrorists. It sends People’s Liberation Army soldiers in the Galwan Valley with murderous intent. And what are we supposed to do? Grin and bear it.
Unfortunately, that’s what we have been doing for decades. India-China relations are best expressed by a song sung by Lata Mangeshkar: “Hai isi mein pyar ki aabru/woh jafa karein main wafa karoon…” (Such is the custom of love/My beloved torments me while I remain faithful…). Written by Raja Mehndi Ali Khan and put to tune by Madan Mohan for the 1962 film Anpadh, it also says, “Mujhe gum bhi unka aziz hai/ke unhi ki di huyi cheez hai…” (I am fond of even the pain she inflicts on me/After all, she has given it to me…).
Such relationships make great poetry, literature, and cinema, but not great foreign policy—certainly not for a sovereign nation and aspiring power like India. But when the defining feature of any bilateral relationship is appeasement—as is the case with our China policy—the appeaser is subjected to continuous pain, humiliation, and more humiliating demands.
So, China’s Foreign Ministry is angry that India and Taiwan are moving ahead with deliberations on a trade deal. We signed such a deal in 2018 with Taiwan; and the ties between the two nations have increased since then. So, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a daily briefing, “The One China principle is a universal consensus of the international community, including India.”
But, Mr. Zhao, there is also “a universal consensus” on human rights. But you don’t accept that and deprive your own citizens, especially ethnic and religious minorities, of all human freedoms, human rights, and civil liberties.
Besides, you can’t expect India, or any other country, to support you on each and every issue while your country shamelessly violates every international law and smash all norms of peace, harmony, and decency.
“It is also the political basis for China to develop ties with other countries. So, we firmly oppose any official exchanges between countries having diplomatic ties with China and Taiwan or signing any official documents,” Jhao said.
We ought to reject this demand with the contempt it deserves, broaden and deepen ties with Taiwan, and indeed recognize it as a sovereign nation by dumping the discredited One China policy we have been following for decades. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is keen on better Indo-Taiwanese relations.
That is the need of the hour. The Nehruvian dinosaurs who formulate and execute China policy ought to be reined in. The sooner the better.