Why must our leaders keep kowtowing to the Chinese?

Why do government ministers and officials have to apologise to China for a private individual's gaffe? Why are we acting so craven before the Chinese?

R Jagannathan July 28, 2011 10:37:10 IST
Why must our leaders keep kowtowing to the Chinese?

There are some people who put their foot in it. And there are others who use the opportunity to debase themselves and all of us.

At a reception hosted by the Pakistani High Commission on Wednesday, Ram Jethmalani, a Rajya Sabha MP, made an impromptu speech seeking brotherhood with one neighbour and enmity with another.

He said, like a true blunderbuss, "Unless India and Pakistan are locked in the embrace of love, they will eventually be destroyed. Do not accept China as your friend, China is an enemy of both…beware of them,” The Indian Express quoted Jethmalani as saying.

Why must our leaders keep kowtowing to the Chinese

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao apologised to the Chinese ambassador Zhang Yan for Jethmalani's individual views about China. Reuters

Most Indians would heartily agree with the second part of his statement on China, and probably disagree with the first. Realists do not share Jethmalani’s rose-tinted views of our western neighbour’s embrace-worthiness, however comely their current foreign minister looks.

Quite clearly, Jethmalani managed to embarrass everyone with it. The Pakistanis, given their chummy relationship with China, were quick to distance themselves from his statement.

No doubt, the Chinese ambassador went red in the face. But what was surprising, and craven, was the Indian effort to take Jethmalani’s foot-in-mouth performance as our own failing.

Even though Jethmalani clarified that these were his personal views, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao apologised to the Chinese ambassador Zhang Yan. So too did Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Rajiv Shukla, according to the newspaper.

Why should Indian officials apologise for something they did not do? These were Jethmalani’s views, not the government of India’s. Why should we be bending over backwards to tell the Chinese that we are diplomatic invertebrates?

This, unfortunately, has been our behaviour right through our independent history. First, Jawaharlal Nehru bowed-and-scraped before the Chinese on Tibet even though Sardar Patel had warned him against it.

Then, in a misplaced sense of generosity, Nehru declined the UN offer of a permanent Security Council seat in place of China. It was perhaps the biggest diplomatic stupidity in UN history. Now that the Chinese are permanent members with the power of veto, they will do everything to block us.

The NDA government, after the nuclear blasts of Pokharan-II, initially justified the acts as necessary in order to counter the power asymmetry vis-à-vis China. But under domestic pressure, from our own Lefties and others, it backtracked.

Quite clearly, India and Indians have a lack of self-esteem and dignity when dealing with rival powers. China, ever since it became clear that it would be the world’s next superpower, has become our new object of fear and self-flagellation.

In fact, Jethmalani himself is the best example of it. Letting his tongue cut loose, he managed to make us sound craven even with the Pakistanis. “I am no great lover of dictators, but I have an exception. I believe he (Pervez Musharraf) wanted peace between India and Pakistan and I believe India missed the bus. The fault lies on this side…”

The reference is probably to the Agra dialogue which ended in a fiasco, but did we miss the bus by not giving Musharraf, the man behind Kargil, his diplomatic victory in Agra? And why make this statement before the Chinese? They must be laughing at us.

Mr Jethmalani, are you nuts?

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