Sino-Indian tussle: Economic or political?

Dr. Atindra Dahal


Once again brand new and sudden Sino-Indian tussle resulting into violent confrontation broke out at Laddakh recently. This scuffle has been the talk of the town for dense public consumption. The whole South Asian sphere seems worried and stressed if this border scrap will ignite a lethal warfare.

Nonetheless, the confrontation discarded the modern means of warfare i.e. bullet cross-firing, canons, mechanical weapons, atomic missiles, nuclear bombs and so on then rather adopted classical physical boxing pattern. The nature of imbroglio has remained an unsolved surprise for many.

However, the scenario forebodes something unpleasant ahead. This tension shall start beeping the world with siren of severe shake as well as senseless scourge on any day in near future. All need to be cautious and alert.

Following the tension, sooner, people commence to enjoy on generating subjectively an excessive eulogy of one and boundless criticism against another, as per convenience and preconceived mindset. Then, a significant pool of scholars and analysts may insists in deeming Sino-Indian bickering as a preliminary cast of  possible political or military confrontation between two countries.

Sadly, these very two natures will betoken a great fiasco on the side of analysts. It had been even in past and so will be in coming days too. The stress is less political and more economic; and its consequences- either at pains or gains- also will be manifolds bigger on economy than politics or on military.

Any state, in present days, counts power with economic status it has. Books A World in Disarray by Richard Haass and Fixing the Failed States by Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart argue the same. In recent decades, despite being reverse in political ideology and executive system, India and China have vastly reconfigured themselves in world status because of oversized growth in economy.

Still both want swift growth and sound economic prosperity over the region. Xi Jinping’s sound Asia and Modi’s maxim of developed south Asia as prime concern unfold same. Alleviating poverty, expanding products and stretching the market far and wide are top priorities.

Both countries have proposed ambitious business plans in this regards. Joseph S. Nye’s book Soft Power: A Means to Control World Politics too agrees trade as key soft-power tool to extend the sphere of influence over others. Both China and India have been endeavouring the same. Different projects of same purpose called BRI and AAGC are on stage and in essence the same has fuelled the Sino-Indian stress.

Some years back, China inducted a unique business plan ‘One Belt One Road’ and later made it more expansive under Belt and Road Initiative, BRI. What-so-ever is the name, having an aggressive trade and business over the world is only the aim. There have been series of discussions and elaborations over this issue on public. But India, Japan and many other Asian and European nations didn’t welcome the move.

They decried it saying that China only cared her growth and it became more a Chinese brand advertisement than of all partnering nations. India argued to refuse it as the belt and road is projected from Jammu Kashmir, already disputed part. Rest, who joined chorus, doubted as that BRI project would financially squeeze other nations, generate geo-political tension and cause serious environmental and climatic degradation as well. This worried India and other emerging powers, therefore to counter China’s BRI initiative, India commenced another powerful business plan named Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, AAGC.

India’s PM Modi and Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe initially discussed on this issue in November 2016. Immediately, a 30 page long concept paper was released. Right after inaugural of BRI, PMs of India and Japan jointly released the AAGC concept on 25 May 2017 on occasion of 52th anniversary of African Development Bank.

AAGC proposes Indo-Japan led inclusive and grand development of entire Asia and Africa. It assumes to have construction of quality infrastructure, promotion of pragmatic interrelationship, skill development and people to people bonding as key four expectations. Japan has planned of using Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan International Cooperative Agency (JICA) as prime actors.

Besides regular functions from those organizations, Japan has allotted an additional budget of US$ 200 billion. India is to announce similar programmes soon. AAGC encompasses 78 countries of Asia and Africa. Some Asian countries achieved fast growth in last few decades then stood as tiger economy.

Despite being famished and foiled for long, lately many African nations did miraculous progress. Ethiopia has growth of 10 percent followed by Ivory Coast and Tanzania 9, Rwanda 8 and Congo 7 percent respectively. Through BRI, China projects business with Europe, which is already slow and mostly stagnant economically. Asia and Africa have sound growth and Indo-Japan’s collective venture aims this solvent part as their business plot. Indo-Japan’s vision 2025 clearly elicits it.


Image credit: AFP

India is striving for breathtaking success under Modi’s mind and plan of ‘Make in India’. This project, having 25 major lists, aims at: producing plenty of goods from clothes to cosy vehicles, increasing employments, and supplying those goods excessively over the globe. For aggressive expansion of business, India alone has sketched another trade route, named North South Trade Corridor’ from India to Iran to Kazakhstan towards Russia’s St. Petersburg. India aims at having salubrious business over the world and Sino-India dispute was reflection of same intent.

None of countries want battle as it causes heavy loss on lives, materials and all. War passes loss to both looser and victor. Both countries belong to UNO and aim at building world peace. Therefore having military and political testing is not the aim of recent feud and that goes barely so again. It is rather aimed at confronting over each others’ business plan and competition to counter the mission to keep the world remain in owns control.

Author Bernard Mayor on his book Dynamics of Conflict Resolution writes that real issues of conflict differ heavily from floated pretexts. Similarly Laddakh based Sino-India ruffle has shown border on outlet but has conceived business in real ground. The real crux is balancing each other on business.

This is a formal inauguration of BRI vs AAGC confrontation. As West was volatile because of US versus USSR cold war for long, the same happens on Asia now because of Sino-India competition for world market. The ruffle is not political event rather it is economic. Therefore it surely takes place again in this or that form. The competition is on economic mission than in military fashion.

The writer holds a PhD in Issues on Nation Building.

Published on 21 June 2020