I respectfully disagree with Brahma Chellaney in his June 25 article, “Dancing with the dragon.” As a center-left American, I agree with President Barack Obama’s approach to China and would prefer that he go further. If any country is likely to become the next superpower, it is China. It is ahead of India in gross domestic product, economic power, agricultural production, manufacturing, science (papers published and scientists produced), and technology (patents and engineers graduated).
To make things worse, China is pulling ahead of India in military technology (e.g., stealth aircraft, phased array radar, cruise and ballistic missiles, and directed energy weapons), semiconductors, computers, biotechnology and nanotechnology. China is also acquiring natural resources outside of China like a vacuum and already rivals the U.S. as a polluter. Should we not deal with China now before things get out of hand?
China is probably one of the most secular countries in the world and, compared to India, is more tolerant of different religions as long as you register with the state. This feature fits nicely with American values. The only problem, of course, is that China is NOT a democracy. But we have had alliances with a Meiji Era emperor, the shah of Iran, military dictatorships and states that were democracies in name only. The fact is that China will eventually become a democracy, though that may take decades.
We should work with China and treat it with respect; develop relations with the Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army, the state-owned enterprises, the universities, and the science and engineering academies; and keep trading. Over time the relationship will evolve into a true partnership.
There is no reason to turn a competitor into an enemy by “balancing” China’s neighbors against it. Historically, ANY rising power reacts as an enemy when other nations band together to try to “manage” its rise.
For its part, India should focus on helping the U.S. in Pakistan and Afghanistan and forget about forming or joining an anti-Chinese coalition. India can continue helping Afghanistan with economic aid and relieve pressure on Pakistan by dramatically reducing its military presence near its borders and in Kashmir. With the help of India, China and Iran, the U.S. will be able to rebuild Afghanistan and put an end to the Taliban and al-Qaida elements in the region.
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