India should take advantage of China’s vulnerabilities in South East Asia: External Affairs Parliamentary Committee


India should take advantage of China's vulnerabilities in South East Asia: External Affairs Parliamentary Committee
The Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs in its report on India-China ties have recommended that India should take advantage of China's vulnerabilities in South East Asia and make further inroads based on "positive image of trust and reliability built assiduously and painstakingly over decades."

The Committee in its detailed report on Sino-Indian ties in the backdrop of Doklam crisis has recommended that due to historical and contemporary factors, China’s ties with some of the countries in SE Asia have come under strain and this presents India with the right opportunity to develop counter pressure on Beijing which has made significant inroads in Delhi's neighbourhood in S Asia.

“The Committee is pleased to note that the Government is sensitive about the issue and has already started taking steps in the desired direction by significantly augmenting projects assistance to Bangladesh and by signing a first time LoC of $ 500 million with Vietnam for defence purchases. India has also taken a firm stand on the Belt and Road Initiative. Further, the Foreign Secretary in his candid submission before the Committee has emphasized the need to look after our neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean,” points out the report released this week.

Therefore, the Committee would desire that these isolated measures notwithstanding, the Government should very proactively pitch for an enhanced role in South- East Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean region as a foreign policy tool in the medium and long term. India’s model of assistance as has been stated previously is being seen as more favourable to the interests of the recipient countries, but is sometimes short on timely delivery, noted the Parliamentary Committee.

However, cautioning about Beijing’s inroads in S Asia the Committee felt that is part of containment policy. “The Committee have noted the significant inroads made by China in India’s neighbourhood and their impact on India’s outreach activities in these countries. Despite the Ministry’s ambivalence on whether this reflects some sort of a deliberate encirclement policy of India by China, the Committee would be inclined to see it as nothing less than a veiled containment policy. Therefore, it is imperative that India should urgently take up the business of re-energizing its ties with our neighbouring countries. It is clear that we now have to contend with the possibility of some of the countries in our neighborhood playing the China card as leverage in their relations with us.”

In Committee’s opinion India vis-à-vis China has the unbeatable advantage of having always being seen as a reliable and trustworthy partner. Therefore, to deal with the emerging situation, India needs to bring into play adroit and pro-active diplomacy on the one hand while significantly augmenting the delivery and efficiency of its development assistance in the Region on the other.