The changing political and demographic landscapes are bound to bring a shift in economic balance of power in Asia. As a common tale, several think tanks predict that the size of Chinese economy would surpass US economy by 2020. Given the maturity, demography and immigration policies of US, the only contender in the economic race to challenge China is India.
Anbound Consultancy, a Beijing based think tank has warned China of India’s potential for “explosive economic growth” and its possibility to develop into a “China 2.0”. It further stated that though the current Indian GDP is low due to structural economic changes, the economy is actually preparing for a great leap. It further cautioned China to keep an eye on an “unfamiliar neighbor”.
As per statistics, India has “a potential workforce set to climb from 885 million to 1.08 billion people in the next 20 years and hold above that for half a century” (Deloitte LLP). On the other hand China would be facing the perils of an ageing economy. The revelations and reports from various think tanks might have made China insecure about its pull and position in the world. It has been preparing to assert its economic dominance for a long time and it seems that the opportunity might slip off given India’s burgeoning potential.
The Doklam standoff was another incident that flared the economic warfare between India and China. Though it wouldn’t exactly be correct to view China’s economic policies as favorable before Doklam. The policy of product dumping has already paralyzed a large section of our economy. This can be quantified already to an extent that where we have no ready replacements for Chinese products today. India’s exports to China fell by 12.3 % in the last decade – catering to the added trade deficit. This may be a strategic import policy of China towards India. India had no other option than putting ban on selected 93 products from China to balance the widening trade deficit.
The Doklam situation, its background and the differences around Pakistan’s blatant terror sponsorships were added slights. China obviously did not take the ban in a healthy spirit. The policy made China more insecure as this move could affect the Chinese economy to a great extent. It called this as India’s “shortcut” and warned that it will hamper Indian consumers – a softened diplomatic comment (different from its Doklam approach). That said, China is unable to understand India’s hardened stance on trade and diplomatic rows.
Reportedly an ambitious high speed train project Chennai-Mysuru corridor has been delayed by Chinese railways as they have abruptly stopped replying to official communications. The feasibility study done by China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co Ltd (CREEC), a state-owned firm was to be submitted to Railway board that is delayed since there is no reply from the other side despite several reminders over six months.
The drift is seen as a possibility of the Doklam standoff but it looks like it resonates with India’s strengthening economy. The development race is in full swing and an insecure China is now seeking to unveil a cold economic warfare. This will certainly impact the increasing political and economic disturbances between India and China.
It is certainly difficult to have stable relations with China given their economic and regional rivalry. India would do well to stay prepared for the upcoming turbulences, in terms of policies, sanctions and productivity to reduce our dependency on China.