A combination of the success of economic reforms in certain provinces and of coalition politics at the national level underwritten by strong regional parties is beginning to translate into a ‘decentralization’ of Indian foreign policymaking. Indian provinces and their leaders are increasingly vocal in their opinions on foreign policy and international affairs and their views are beginning to have an impact on how the centre makes its foreign policy calculations.
In Asia, as important as the aid itself is, is who provides it and how. There is clearly politics – foreign policy interests and domestic factors of both donor and recipient nations – involved in humanitarian relief and assistance.
It is important to start with that oft-repeated statement made by a Chinese admiral, “We can no longer accept the Indian Ocean as an ocean of the Indians.” Apart from a sense of nationalist hurt that Indian reactions to the statement portrayed and continue to portray, the statement succeeded also in evoking a realization hitherto largely ignored or even suppressed that the Indian Ocean which had long ago ceased to be India’s ocean.
India must ask itself some hard questions. What does India view as the foundation for its relations with other countries? Why for example, should any country consider India’s rise as benign in comparison to that of China’s?
The Karakoram Highway (KKH) is today a strategic and commercial asset for both China and Pakistan but it has also been responsible for transporting terrorism, drugs and disease. Indeed, for Pakistan, the resultant Chinese concerns are no small matter. Its policy towards the Northern Areas invariably invokes the link that the region provides with China and the importance of the trade with that country.
The Olympics have been widely perceived as showcasing China’s arrival on the global stage. However, along with its Olympic preparations, Beijing must have, no doubt, been preparing also for eventualities related to each of the three ‘evils.’ What then, do China’s reactions to the events of March 2008 indicate about its level of preparedness? And, what do these reactions say about how China sees life after the Olympics?
If the Indian nuclear tests of 1998, provided the first occasion for China in the post-Cold War era, to sit up and give due attention to India in a global political and strategic context, the Indo-US Nuclear Deal provides the second occasion in the same process.
Symbolism apart, and despite the booming trade that continues to exceed all targets, Sino-Indian relations have seen some major political incidents beginning around the time of Chinese President, Hu Jintao’s visit to India in November 2006.
While China has continued military support to Pakistan even during military conflicts and near-conflicts between India and Pakistan, its stance on Kashmir has shifted gradually in response to the prevailing domestic, regional, and international situations.