Calling for a comprehensive, aggressive change in India’s policy on China, against the Ladakh conflict backdrop, India needs to instil fear in the minds of Communist China if it has to achieve equilibrium in the bilateral relationship, Congress Party leader Dr Abhishek Singhvi has said.

Pushing for a three-pronged shift in India’s strategy vis-à-vis China, Dr Singhvi said New Delhi should take a position in building military capability, diplomatic heft by aligning with like-minded groupings like Quad, and inflict economic injury to China, all to instil fear in Communist China’s mind towards its Asian neighbour.

Member Parliament Abhishek Singhvi
Photo: Abhishek Singhvi Member Indian Parliament, Rajya Sabha.

Speaking at a webinar organised by Law and Society Alliance, a Delhi-headquartered think-tank, and Defence. Capital, a national security and strategic affairs platform on Saturday evening, Dr Singhvi said India and its polity has to grow beyond local party politics to usher in single-minded, focused, and unified response to the China challenge.

The senior advocate in the Supreme Court called for a change in the mindset of the Indian bureaucracy and diplomats in providing strong, deft and resolute handling of the Chinese challenge on all fronts, be it geopolitical, economic or military.

He was forthright in his assessment that India needs “to do more and talk less” on China and the challenges posed by the northern neighbour.

“India and China are two swords in one scabbard called Asia. There has got to be forced respectability between the two countries within the world, both respect and outward likeability are consequences of fear.

The necessity is to get fear about India in China. Only this is often getting to set the equilibrium between the two,” the three-time member of parliament from the Congress Party said.

On the military front, he suggested that the Indian armed forces should unabashedly carry out joint military exercises with its interoperable friends and partners. “We have to be open and public about enhancing our military alliance and partnerships. India must focus on it and it is already doing so.”

That apart, India must focus on improving its defence budget and technological capabilities to counter the Chinese supremacy in the region on those fronts, he said. In particular, he talked of a greater share of the defence budget in GDP terms for the armed forces, and developing technologies to counter China, especially the military drone armoury technology apart from the missile capabilities and border infrastructure development.

Exploring possible diplomatic options for India, Dr Singhvi, the senior-most national spokesperson for the Congress Party, said India should leverage and exploit the worldwide anti-China sentiment and the unprecedented wave of anger that has swept across even those nations like Australia that had tilted towards China within the Pacific region under former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

“India’s power to call and shame China has always been less understood and even less considered. That naming and shaming China across the planet may be a vital tool in India’s armoury and that I will expect India to unleash a blitzkrieg during which it should name and shame China on the worldwide fora with forthrightness. What US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo has said, I would not accept everything he says, but his forthrightness on China should be applauded,” Dr Singhvi said.

Talking about the worldwide alliances against China, he said, “the ASEAN, the Quad, Malabar exercise, Digital-10 grouping are all alliances of great use within the China equation, to the extent that India has some asymmetry with China ashore and traditional defence forces.”

“That asymmetry is much less on our water and ocean fronts. The joint exercises, maritime policing, patrolling, and all the things that happen in the Indian Ocean give superiority to India when it combines with all these global entities. These alliances have become powerful tools.”

Strongly proposing that India should work towards leveraging its tieith Tibet and Taiwan, he said the divinity and glory of His Holiness the Dalai Lama must get the proper place that he deserves in India, and New Delhi must unhesitatingly enhance diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

He also supported the thought of giving more room and space in India, if not on the government platforms but on non-governmental stages like Law and Society Alliance for Communist China-persecuted communities.

Calling for vocal, diverse, and comprehensive criticism of China on matters like the Belt & Road Initiative and the South China Sea and Indian Ocean aggression, Dr Singhvi said these actions of China are colonial designs with a coating of economic assistance.

Finally, on the economic front, Dr Singhvi called for selective boycotting of China, a practice that Beijing itself adopts and implements vis-à-vis South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia. “The need of the hour is of judiciously crafted focus and targeted mix of import substitution, discriminatory tariff, steep anti-dumping duties, and arbitration in certain areas. And let me remind you – these are not the World Trade Organisation (WTO) breaches or foul practices, as recent WTO judgements show.”

Dr Avinash Godbole, a professor at the O P. Jindal Global University at Sonepat, said Xi Jinping’s rise to power, the press conferences by the Premier and the Foreign Minister of China are attacking, which need to be noted.

“China has started to believe that it is going to be at the forefront of the new world order, and it will lead the world through technology.”