The new leadership in China is making clear the priorities of China in the emerging global scenario. It seems that the Chinese have given a clear signal that their relations with Russia are most important for them. China no longer accepts America’s status as the only superpower of the world. China considers itself as the leading country of Asia. Therefore, it no longer recognizes Japan as the leading country of Asia. Moreover, just like the USA and Europe, China sees Japan as a declining power. These countries have already reached the peak of their power and now cannot retain their position at the top of the pyramid.
It is also clear that China sees Russia and India as the countries which have the potential to rise. Russia used to be a super power. However, Russia was only a military power and did not attain its full economic potential. Even at the peak of its power, Russia could not develop its economy to a level which was compatible with its vast natural resources. In modern times, India has remained way behind its economic potential. China feels that one day, India is bound to rise and claim its rightful place in the world. However, there is a difference in the Russian and the Indian attitudes.
Russia sees China as a country which can help Russia to regain its lost status. Moreover, Russia and China are like two countries which had their match made in heaven. Russia is the largest producer of energy and China is the largest consumer of energy. China has become the manufacturing hub of the world and has the biggest reserves of foreign exchange (surplus money to invest). China needs to modernize its army by acquiring advanced weapons. Russia needs capital to develop its vast natural resources. Russia has advanced and sophisticated weapons to sell. Russia is a close second among the top weapon-exporting countries. America’s share is 30% of the world market and Russia’s share is 26%. These figures show that if we take into account size of the economies, then comparatively, Russia is producing far more advanced and sophisticated weapons. It can be concluded that in the case of Russia and China, each country has what the other country needs (a symbiotic relationship).
However, relations between India and China are far more complicated. There are historical, cultural and political differences between the two countries. India has a very long history of being conquered and enslaved. This unfortunate history started with the Greek invasion of Alexander. Subsequently, there were Arab (Mohammad Bin Qasim), Afghan (Ghazni, Gauri, and Ahmad Shah Abdali), Mongol (Babur), Central Asian (Timur), Turk (Khilji), Persian (Nadir Shah), Portuguese, French, Dutch, Italian, and British invasions. We have developed a slavish mentality. We have accepted the Western domination. Therefore, the American hegemony does not bother us as much as is it bothers the Chinese. To a degree, we see American hegemony and domination in a positive sense because it helps to contain China. While we are used to living in a Western-dominated world, the idea of a non-Western power becoming the leading force makes us uncomfortable.
India also has a tradition of elitism. The elitist class somehow managed to co-exist with the invaders and conquerors while preserving and maintaining its elite status. India has also adopted the Western capitalist model of development. Therefore, it feels itself being much closer to the Western countries than its neighbors. Just look at the recent vote on Sri Lanka in the UN. India voted with America against Sri Lanka. It is not just Sri Lanka with which India feels at odds; India has problems with almost all of its neighbors. I have no doubt that if India were to compete for the votes of the neighboring countries, almost all of our neighbors may vote for China. Even a country like Nepal, with whom we have special cultural and religious bonds, feels closer to China than India.
In spite of our attitude toward China, China still sees India as a potential ally because both countries have many common interests. Both countries have not received the status they deserve, in the Western-dominated world. Therefore, they want a fundamental change in the global institutions such as the UN, the World Bank and the IMF. All of these institutions were made to maintain Western domination and hegemony.
The recent BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa showed that this organization is posing a tremendous challenge to Western monopoly and domination. The share of the BRICS countries in the world economy and trade is growing, while the Western share is declining. The BRICS countries have decided to develop a Bank which will be posing a big challenge to the World Bank and the IMF in the long run. The continuous rise of the East and decline of the West will one day force India to accept the realities of the world. China has the patience to wait for that day. Meanwhile, Russia and China will continue to come closer to each other and further tilt the balance of power to the East.
Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at [email protected].