Skip to main content

Doka La standoff ends: Four good economic reasons China had to not mess with India

IndiaDinesh UnnikrishnanAug, 29 2017 12:19:35 IST


What really caused a sudden end to the Doka La standoff between India and China is as yet unclear. Until recently, the situation wasn’t getting any better with the war of words escalating on both sides, reminders of the 1962 war and highly provocative, sometimes misleading reportage in the media.

But everything changed on Monday when both sides issued statements on an end to the impasse and withdrawal of troops. What worked between the two parties for such a quick resolution will, perhaps, remain a State secret. The decision also served as a face-saver for political leaderships on both sides.

The important takeaway from the decision is that it saves both sides from major economic consequences. More importantly, it averted an embarrassment for China in the BRICS Summit that begins on 3 September in Xiamen. While the exact reasons for the end of the standoff are not known, there are a few clear reasons why China could not have afforded a prolonged standoff at the Sikkim border and eventually turned India into an enemy.

Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping are set to meet at next month's BRICS Summit. PTI

First, India plays an important role in emerging economies off the world. Among the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations, undoubtedly India is seen as a major emerging economic power that has strong enough pillars to challenge the dominance of China in the decades to come. Even today, India plays a key role in the Asian economy, as the third largest in the region. In this backdrop, as the host, China could not have afforded facing India at the meet to discuss economic cooperation of BRICS countries when troops from both countries are positioned against each other in a high-tension scenario.

Besides, India’s emerging economic dominance in the region would make any country seek to befriend it, particularly China which wants to play the role of big brother in Asia. A recent Harvard study said that India has emerged as the economic pole of global growth by surpassing China and is expected to maintain its lead over the coming decade citing that it is particularly well-positioned to continue diversifying in new areas, given the capabilities accumulated to date. Further, according to Harvard University’s Centre for International Development (CID) growth projections, India will feature on top of the list of fastest growing economies till 2025 with an average annual growth of 7.7 percent.

Second, India now has much better diplomatic relations with world powers, mainly the US, which China cannot ignore any longer. If China escalates tensions with India and makes an enemy of its neighbour, it would naturally put China in the opposite camp and will erode the gains it has been making as a peace-loving, mature country that aspires to become a world leader. Beijing wouldn’t have wanted to gamble its hard-won image by prolonging the military standoff with India at a disputed territory.

Third, China will also suffer on the trade front if it cuts ties with India. It has more to lose than India as China traditionally has a trade surplus with India. Right now, India has a trade deficit of around $52 billion with China. In the past year alone, India exported around $9 billion worth of goods to China while China exported $60 billion to India. That’s a big trade opportunity for Chinese manufacturers. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the Chinese presence is evident in almost all sectors ranging from electronic items to pharmaceutical products. Here too, China would have taken a heavy hit if tensions escalated to a war-like situation.

Fourth and perhaps the biggest reason China wouldn’t want to create an enemy of India would have been its One Belt, One Road initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic corridor, where significant investments have already been made, and both are critical to China’s long-term plan to build its dominance in the Asian region. China has invested at least $50 billion so far in CPEC. India has a problem with CPEC as the corridor passes through the contentious part of Kashmir, which is occupied by Pakistan and claimed by India.

Some of its neighbours like Sri Lanka too have spoken in favour of India on this issue saying it is difficult for India to accept the CPEC since it passes through the 'heart of Indian interests'. China would have further risked the fate of CPEC and OBOR if it escalated tensions, as India can create hurdles in the path of OBOR.

As Dhruva Jaishankar, fellow of foreign policy with Brookings India in New Delhi writes in this NDTVarticle, "Dok(a La) shows that a military confrontation between two nuclear-armed powers can be resolved diplomatically, and without escalation. But for China's leadership there is perhaps a need for introspection about why it let relations with India deteriorate so sharply for no material gain."

To sum up, calling off the military standoff in Doka La was a big face-saving exercise for both India and China also due to major economic reasons. But, for China, Doka La offers a bigger lesson not to mess with India. And Beijing has learned it well


Popular posts from this blog

Balochistan to establish first medical university

The Newspaper's Staff CorrespondentOctober 25, 2017QUETTA: The provincial cabinet on Tuesday approved the draft for establishing a medical university in Balochistan.Health minister Mir Rehmat Saleh Baloch made the announcement while speaking at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.“The cabinet has approved the draft of the medical university which would be presented in the current session of the Balochistan Assembly,” he said, adding with the assembly’s approval the Bolan Medical College would be converted into a medical university.Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017

5 Shia Hazara community members gunned down in Pakistan

Five members of the minority Shia Hazara community, including two women, were killed on Sunday in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.This is not the first time that members of the Hazara community have been targeted in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.(Reuters File Photo)Updated: Sep 11, 2017 00:20 ISTBy Press Trust of India, Press Trust of India, KarachiFive members of the minority Shia Hazara community, including two women, were killed on Sunday in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.The gunmen targeted a car in Kuchluck area of Quetta while it was coming from the Chaman border crossing area, police said.The firing took place when the travellers had stopped at a filling station to refuel their vehicle. Five people of the Shia Hazara community, including two women, died in …

China’s 'Digital Silk Road': Pitfalls Among High Hopes

Will information and communication technologies help China realize its Digital Silk Road?By Wenyuan WuNovember 03, 2017In his speech at the opening ceremony of China’s 19th Party Congress, President Xi Jinping depicted China as a model of scientific and harmonious development for developing nations. Xi’s China wants to engage the world through commerce but also through environmental protection and technological advancement. This includes Beijing’s efforts to fight climate change with information and communication technologies (ICTs) that it plans to export along its “One Belt One Road” initiative (OBOR). Xi may have ambitious plans, but could China be throwing up obstacles in its own way?In his speech, the Chinese president emphasized the need to modernize the country’s environmental protections. The Chinese state is taking an “ecological civilization” approach to development and diplomacy, with a natio…