Why India Cannot Afford To Turn A Blind Eye To Chinese Actions
The Chinese army has recently penetrated 3-4 kilometres into Indian territory in the Galwan area of Ladakh. Many people in India may think this incident was only due to some small misunderstanding about the border between the two countries, but that is not so. The incident is part of a much larger imperialist design of the Chinese, so let me explain.
In the 1930s and 1940s Nazi German imperialism was a more immediate danger to the world, and not British or French imperialism. This was because German imperialism was rising and expanding, and hence aggressive imperialism, while British and French imperialism were only defensive. While the latter only wanted to hold on to their colonies, the Nazis wanted to conquer and enslave other countries. Hence the Nazis were the real danger to the world.
Similarly, today the danger is not from America but from China, because the Chinese are on the road of aggressive expansionism in the world. With their massive industry seeking markets for its goods, and with their huge 3.2 trillion dollar foreign exchange reserve hungrily seeking avenues for profitable investment, the Chinese are today aggressive imperialists, and the greatest danger to the world. It is true they are not presently expanding militarily like Nazi Germany, but they are aggressively expanding economically by penetrating and undermining the economies of many countries of the world.
In the last decade Chinese overseas investment has skyrocketed. Today the Chinese are almost everywhere, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and of course USA and Europe. Their Belt and Road Initiative is a network of roads, railways, oil pipelines, power grids, ports and other infrastructure projects connecting China with the world. It aims at improving infrastructure and connectivity between China and the rest of Eurasia in order to dominate it. China’s focus is often on vital infrastructure like ports e.g. Gwadar in Pakistan, Piraeus in Greece and Hambantota in Sri Lanka, the aim being to get a strategic foothold in these countries.
By selling goods at less than half the price at which the American or European manufacturer can afford to sell (in view of his higher labour cost), the Chinese have destroyed many American and European industries. Now the Chinese are seeking to capture the markets and raw materials in underdeveloped countries by dumping goods at very low prices so as to make the local product noncompetitive. Pakistan, for instance, is flooded with cheap Chinese goods.
While capturing foreign markets, the Chinese were carefully protecting their own by high tariffs. It has to be said to the credit of President Trump that he has called the Chinese bluff, and bluntly told the Chinese that this won’t do. You can’t have 25% tariff on import of automobiles into China when USA imposes a tariff of only 2.5% for import of cars into USA. Trump has imposed tariffs on several Chinese goods and has announced more in the future. To this, the Chinese announced retaliatory tariffs, but that will hurt Americans little.
It is well known that many American and European companies are reluctant to hire people from mainland China due to concerns about espionage of industrial secrets.
Now I would like to refer to China’s economic relations with India.
As is well known, India was a British colony till 1947, and the British policy was broadly to keep India unindustrialised. However, after Independence a certain degree of industrialisation took place in India and we started manufacturing goods which we had to earlier import.
Now the Chinese have, to a certain extent, penetrated our market at the expense of our domestic industries. An article entitled “How Chinese companies are beating India in its own backyard” published on 12.12.2017 in The Economic Times gives some interesting details. Indo-Chinese trade is heavily skewed in favour of the Chinese. Indian exports to China are of 16 billion dollars, mainly of raw materials. But its imports from China are of 68 billion dollars, mainly of value added goods like mobile phones, plastics, electrical goods, machinery and its parts. This is typical of the relation between a colony and an imperialist country.
Chinese companies use aggressive pricing, state subsidies, protectionist policies and cheap financing. In certain sectors Chinese companies dominate the Indian market e.g. in the telecom sector, 51% of which has been captured by the Chinese. Indian homes are full of Chinese goods e.g. fittings, lampshades, tube-lights, etc.
To conclude, I appeal to the Indian Government and others to consider seriously what I have said, and to start opposing Chinese imperialism. To ignore this danger will be behaving like an ostrich, like Neville Chamberlain who kept thinking Hitler was no danger until it was almost too late. Apart from opposing the aggressive Chinese moves at the border, the Indian Governmentt should expel all Chinese companies from India and ban entry of Chinese goods into the Indian market.
The Indian Government should not engage in any appeasement of China as Neville Chamberlain did towards Hitler, but boldly confront it as Churchill did. Appeasement only whets the appetite of the aggressor.
Markandey Katju is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. He was also the Chairman of the Press Council of India.