Tue, Nov 28, 2006 - Page 8 News List

India could help Taiwan's leverage

By Chang Yan-ting 張延廷

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) recently visited India, the first visit to India by a Chinese head of state in 10 years.

Hu hopes to more clearly establish the future direction for China and India's strategic partnership and create a China-India free-trade zone.

As for China's international strategic ambitions, it wants to integrate India, Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asian countries into an economic community.

The idea is to form an arc-shaped band across Asia where people, capital, technology and economic activity can flow unobstructed and to use their common prosperity to increase their importance on the world stage.

Meanwhile, the bulk of the US' military alignment has gradually shifted toward the west Pacific.

It has quietly formed a containment arc around China, including Japan, the Ryukyu Islands, Guam, the Philippines and Singapore.

If India, the biggest county in South Asia, were added to the arc, then the whole Asia-Pacific arc would be under US control.

That is why China is implementing its "good neighbor" policy in an attempt to unite local forces to counterbalance US influence, and this has made India an important player.

Even though India threw off more than 100 years of British colonial rule when it gained independence in 1947, former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's policy of not joining any alliances resulted in this large South Asian country's isolation during the Cold War.

But it has now become clear that India aspires to take its place as a major world power, and its current strategy is to interact as an equal with other global powers.

As India becomes further integrated into the global economy and with its economic growth having accelerated to 7 percent per year, its huge population has made it an attractive market.

It is putting great effort into developing an economic model focusing on its service industry. The goal is to wield greater economic influence by having a GDP of US$12 trillion by 2025, which would be equal to that of the US at present.

India's population has already reached 1.1 billion, which makes it second only to China as the most populous country in the world.

But its economy is growing rapidly too, and looking at purchasing power parity, which assumes that purchasing power is the same in both countries, it ranks fifth in the world behind only the US, China, Japan and Germany.

Considering that it also became one of the six countries in the world to have nuclear weapons in 1998, it's obvious that India is on the road to becoming a major power.

The speed of India's peaceful rise has been a hot topic in international politics research, and has made it an important piece in the US' efforts to counterbalance China's rise.

The US wants to establish a partnership with India to promote common growth, knowing that interest in India has the ability to supplant China fever.

Excessive concentration of investments in China enables rapid Chinese growth and in the end results in being restricted by it.

China is of course also actively trying to entice India by making it an important player in the Asian community which Beijing is trying to create, thus reducing the geopolitical threat against China.

India's strategic position is of exceptional importance in the tug-of-war between the US, China and Japan.

India has been strengthening its control over the Indian Ocean in recent years.

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