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A new word for Chinese diplomacy -- 'duplimacy'?

Wednesday January 18, 2012 01:23:26 PM, Ravi M. Khanna, IANS

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"China wants to develop long-term friendship and cooperation with India." So said the Chinese official who held border talks with Indian officials this week. He also predicted a "golden period for India-China relations" in the near future. What he did not say, but sceptics like me heard him say between the lines, is that all this is possible only if it is done on China's terms.

What we heard between the lines is never uttered by China, but only demonstrated by its actions. So the real dichotomy lies between what China "says" and what China "does".

Just days before Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo's statement, the Chinese government had already shown that China will never budge from its policy towards the border issue. The Chinese government denied visa to an Indian Air Force officer who was to go as a member of the Indian military delegation to China on the ground that he was from Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian state claimed by China. This led to India scaling down its delegation from the original 30 members to 15.

At one point China even took a subtle step to show that it can, if it wants, consider Kashmiris, not as Indian citizens, but citizens of "Kashmir" by not stamping the visa on their Indian passports but issuing it on a separate paper.

These kind of moves by China are not limited only towards India. This is the underlying character of their dubious diplomacy, or shall we call it Chinese "duplimacy".

Last year, even Washington had to face Chinese "duplimacy". Just hours before then US Defence Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Beijing to improve military ties between the two powers, the Chinese military engaged in an unusual show of force by staging the test flight of their top secret new stealth fighter jet J-20. That was China's action. The words from China came later when President Hu Jintao and other civilian leaders gave Gates the impression that they were unaware of the test.

Some China experts feel that China shows this kind of arrogance because its adventures in the past against other nations were not nipped in the bud but were rather tolerated. Since there were no consequences, China keeps on flaunting its power in Asia.

In fact, ever since 1949 when China came under Communist rule, its history has been replete with aggressions.

In the Korean war, China sent in one million troops to defend North Korea against UN coalition forces. Then it attacked and took over an independent Tibetan kingdom. In 1962, China invaded and tried to get control of Indian territory. Seven years later it tried to invade across the Soviet border in the Damanskiy Island area. Then came the war of aggression against Vietnam in 1979.

But if you go by what China says, they are a peaceful nation that has no history of aggression. The fact is that by action they have always been the bully in the area, and their statements have always tried to portray them as a victim.

Anyway, history tells us that Beijing would not hesitate in using military force to secure its territory if the Chinese leaders believed such action is necessary. Most countries have wondered why China was rapidly building up its armed forces without acknowledging it.

The Chinese official who held border talks this week with India also rejected the notion of any rivalry between China and India. Now this is another statement that fits into the mould of China's "duplimacy". What he said can also mean that China considers it so far ahead of India that there isn't any rivalry to speak of. Does China think that India is naïve enough to be lulled into a slumber of complacency and really believe that there is no rivalry?

So may be what the Chinese official really meant was that it can be a "golden period for India-China relations", provided India shuns the rivalry and accepts China as the "daddy" in Asia.

But, apparently, India can never forget how it was bitten by the "Hindi Cheeni bhai bhai" bug in the Nehru era. So it should be twice shy and doubly prepared.


Ravi M. Khanna is a longtime South Asia observer. He has also headed the South Asia Desk in the Voice of America Newsroom in Washington and published a book called "TV News Writing Made Easy for Newcomers". He can be reached at




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