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Abandon 1962 mindset, engage with China on an equal footing: Sinologist

The Indians are displaying their anger and many have given a call to boycott Chinese goods. "...This is only a knee-jerk reaction," said Dr Gunjan Singh, assistant professor, Jindal Law School.

Published: 20th June 2020 05:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th June 2020 06:13 PM   |  A+A-

China, India, Communist Party, Xi Jiniping

Since President Xi took office in 2013, China has flexed its military muscle in disputes with India, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Taiwan. (Express Illustrations | Amit Bandre)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Jingoism and calls for a boycott of Chinese goods will not help India in dealing with China post the May 15/16 standoff at Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh in which India lost 20 soldiers, including a commanding officer, said Dr Gunjan Singh, assistant professor, Jindal Law School, OP Jindal Global University and former Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) research fellow on China.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, she said recent skirmishes between India and China on the Line of Actual Control have "changed the fragile balance of this relationship. It has resulted in further strengthening of the already extreme nationalistic feelings on both sides. This has also intensified the anti-China feelings within India and added to the mistrust for China (1962 war)," said the academician.

"New Delhi and Beijing had worked long and hard to reach a fine equilibrium, where both sides had robust economic relations though not-so-warm political interactions. The unresolved border issue always had the potential to sidetrack the economic developments. It is no surprise that there are massive calls for boycotting Chinese goods within India," she added.

The Indians are displaying their anger with China and many have given a call to boycott Chinese goods. 

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"This is not a possibility and is only a knee-jerk reaction. The breaking of the TV sets, mobile phones are not going to harm China economically. The Indian government needs a new and nuanced strategy to counter the aggressive neighbour," she said.

Dr Gunjan also felt "the government should have invested its resources in developing and nurturing domestic manufacturing units. It should have pushed for greater innovation and more research." 

"The only possible way, in the long term, is that New Delhi develops its domestic capabilities. Innovation and technology are among the major paths to counter the inroads which Chinese companies have made in India. It is the failure of the Indian establishment that most of our manufacturing has vanished or shifted to China," the assistant professor added.

She stressed that India should "start engaging with countries like Japan, South Korea, Vietnam in order to counter the Chinese influence in East and South East Asia. Increasing engagement with Taiwan will also be an important step.  

"The most logical option would be to tune the foreign policy in a direction which counters Chinese influence in South Asia as well. Limited military posturing, which can be contained if need be can also be applied," she said.

"We need to change the narrative in the country and move out of the 1962 mindset. There is a need to engage China on an equal footing. Both countries have mutated a lot since then. We lost to China in 1962 and I feel that defeat still haunts us," said the researcher.

"Beijing's massive investments in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan have helped it make inroads in the foreign policy of these countries. This has thus alienated New Delhi in its most natural sphere of influence. India has a lot to gain from regional prosperity. While it would be wrong to say that India can match China 'project by project', New Delhi can use its proximity, historical linkages, benign image to leverage the ongoing anti-China sentiments in the post-COVID era," said Dr Gunjan.

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