When Opportunity Knocks

Jayadeva Ranade, the former additional secretary in the cabinet secretariat, writes in the Times of India:

By the time the ongoing international economic crisis runs its course, it will have wrought significant changes in the global geopolitical landscape. While the US’s strength or power projection capability will not have diminished and the country will continue to be a predominant world power, other centres of power and influence would have emerged. China will be one of these new centres. Unless the Chinese Communist Party’s monopoly on power collapses, China will in all likelihood emerge wealthier and stronger. This will have serious implications for India and the region.

The global crisis has not left China unscathed. President Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao, however, appear confident that their move in October 2005 to replace the policy of allowing ‘some people to get rich first’ with ‘common prosperity’ will pay off. Investments have since been channelled into schemes with long-term benefits such as rural health care, medical insurance and social security, targeted at the countryside where 70 per cent of China’s population resides…

China’s leadership has traditionally been acutely conscious of the need to guard against social upheavals. After an unprecedented 87,000 ‘incidents’ in 2005, party and public security authorities were trained in sophisticated crowd control techniques and security has been constantly tightened. As a result, the Chinese leadership considers any threat to internal stability or the Chinese Communist Party unlikely. It is now focused on achieving major national security and foreign policy objectives at a time the world remains preoccupied with the economic crisis… China is trying to assume a more assertive role in regions of its interest: Central Asia, South Asia and the Asia-Pacific. Picking up on a veiled suggestion Bill Clinton, then US president, in Beijing in 1998, Beijing will try and persuade the US to yield it a greater role in these areas. The implications of a stronger and wealthier China exercising such a role are far-reaching for India and the world.

See also past CDT posts on China-India relations.

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