China seems to believe that it will over the next couple of decades have the economic and military capacity to preempt competition or opposition to its will and that this will itself lead to global order and on its terms. But such a world order is actually likely to be an unstable one based as it is on the principle of ‘might is right’.
The coronavirus epidemic and its fallout globally must also remind us of the economic opportunities that India has not been able to exploit in its undeclared competition with China.
Freedom of speech and the diversity of opinion that it engenders are not a reflection of seditious tendencies endangering state security even if they might threaten the regime in power.
Indian citizens could perhaps learn much from the Taiwanese election campaign, where various civic groups actively fact-checked each candidate’s speech and confronted them in real time over inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
Given that China has both more money than India and diplomatic capacity that matches that of the US, it will remain a significant player in Sri Lanka.
The pragmatic realism of the kind that the Indian foreign minister appeared to promote at the lecture actually falls short where China is concerned.
There appears to be a lack of willingness by the Indian government to call China out publicly on its double standards and its unmet promises even as it continues to be obliquely referred to as a concern by several BJP leaders.
Structural problems between India and China are unlikely to be resolved by two leaders having ‘informal’ dialogues or meetings without agendas.
India will need to match China with a capable and expanded foreign service working in coordination with political parties, business communities, intellectual elites and its diaspora but also display adherence to values that are genuinely attractive to the peoples of other nations to push an ‘Indian model’ of politics and development that can challenge the Chinese one.