India should engage less with China: Study

India should reduce its engagement with China in three main areas but dispense with “myopic jingoism”, says a new report on how India can meet the Chinese challenge in the wake of clashes between Indian and Chinese troops at Galwan and Chinese aggression in eastern Ladakh.

‘Strategic Patience and Flexible Policies’, a study authored by former ambassador to China Gautam Bambawale, former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar, former chief of CSIR R Mashelkar and economists Ajit Ranade and Ajay Shah, will be released this week.

India, it says, will have to reset its China policy. “By taking military action in 2020, China has clearly indicated that she does not desire a stable, balanced, forward looking relationship with India and that she is willing to use military coercion to resolve her disputes with India. China has decided the nature of the future India-China relationship: she appears to desire a conflictual, unbalanced and tense relationship with India,” the report says.

India should build coalitions with 20 countries with whom it shares values and interests, it says. “Three groups of countries are our natural partners in such coalition building: (a) major democracies of the world,(b) countries in the Indian region and (c) countries that share a border with China, including major powers such as Russia, who are our natural partners in this venture. Building such coalitions including the Quad and others is the need of the hour,” it adds.

The study details three areas where there is a case for a retreat from engagement with China. “There is a case for introducing restrictions against companies controlled by the Chinese state from having a controlling stake in a hotlist of sensitive infrastructure assets; there is a need to avoid locking into Chinese-controlled technological standards; and, India must police against and block Chinese state surveillance of Indian people, which appears to often be done through backdoors in network equipment,” it adds.

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