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US Poodle or Chinese Poodle?

Ever since Shri Prakash Karat took over the stewardship of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), it has come out in the open as a strong defender of Chinese interests.

2. Its decision to strongly oppose the Indo-US civilian nuclear co-operation agreement, known as the 123 agreement, even at the risk of destabilising the present Government headed by Dr.Manmohan Singh came belatedly after China had openly expressed its concerns over the idea of a concert of democracies involving India, the US, Japan and Australia and over the joint naval exercises held in the Bay of Bengal in September-beginning by the Navies of India, the US, Japan, Singapore and Australia. Beijing viewed these as directed against China.

3. It was apparent from the beginning that the opposition of the leftist coalition to the 123 agreement was not a stand-alone opposition because it could affect India’s nuclear capability—civilian or military—, but the thin edge of the wedge of a larger opposition to India’s strategic relationship with the US. The Government of India denies that this relationship is meant to counter China. China is not convinced of the denial and continues to suspect that the India-US strategic relationship has ulterior motives directed against China.

4. Shri Karat and the leftist coalition are not prepared to believe what the Prime Minister of India says, but attach greater credence to what China alleges. Shri Karat needs to be complimented for coming out openly on this subject. Let me quote from an agency report carried by on November 1,2007: Quote The Communist Party of India Marxist on Thursday vowed to oppose a strategic alliance between India and the United States, stating such a move is aimed at countering China. ”We shall not rest in our fight till the strategic ties with the US are snapped out,” Karat said at a CPI(M)-sponsored programme in Kolkata to celebrate the October Revolution. He said the US was trying to make India its strategic ally in countering China, which is “the most powerful socialist country capable of challenging the might of the USA”. ”USA has also changed its tactics of making Pakistan its strategic ally as it has now realised that if it can get India as a strategic ally, the balance will be tilted in favour of imperialism and neo-colonialism”, he said.Karat said that the people of India would fight against imperialism ”and will not accept the design to convert us as a subordinate ally of the US”.”India is a prize for the US and not Pakistan because of its market. Developed India can be useful for counter-balancing China. This is a game the US is trying to play which has to be foiled”, he said.Unquote

5. While one has to appreciate Shri Karat’s concerns over the dangers of India becoming an American poodle to which I have also been strongly opposed myself, one has reasons to be concerned over his apparent wish that India would instead become a Chinese poodle. How many times you have come across the leftist opposition expressing concern over China’s strategic partnership with Pakistan, which is aimed at countering India? How many times Shri Karat and his associates sounded the wake-up call over the implications to our security arising from the construction of the Chinese naval base in Gwadar in Pakistan and ports in Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Sitwe in Myanmar, which may ultimately be converted into naval bases? The Communists would oppose India giving any military assistance to Sri Lanka to strengthen its counter-terrorism capability, but keep silent on Chinese assistance to Sri Lanka. If India gives assistance, it might be used against the Tamils, but if China does, it poses no threat to the Tamils. Is this their contention?

6. One of our oil companies, in co-operation with a South Korean company, won a contract for gas exploration in the Arakan area of Myanmar. After spending much money and considerable labour put in by Indian engineers and workers, gas waas found. The military junta in Myanmar arbitrarily decided to sell the gas to China because Beijing had vetoed in the beginning of this year a UN Security Council Resolution seeking to impose economic sanctions against Myanmar. China, which professes historic friendship for India, had no qualms over undermining India’s interest. Have Shri Karat and his associates even once expressed their concern over this stabbing-in-the-back?

7. China and its scholars continue to question India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh. Many of us felt outraged when the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi refused to issue a visa to an IAS officer from Arunachal Pradesh to accompany an official delegation to China on the ground that he was a Chinese national and not an Indian national. Why not even a single member of the leftist coalition did not feel ouraged over this Chinese insult to one of our co-citizens?

8.One can go on narrating instances of the leftists’ double-talk on the question of the need for India to follow an independent foreign policy. However, their concept of an independent foreign policy reflect the Chinese interests more than the Indian interests, Chinese concerns more than Indian concerns. They are understandably disturbed over the dangers of India becoming an American poodle. Nobody in India wants it. At the same time,we have reasons to be worried when we find that the leftists’ concern is not over India becoming a poodle, but an American one and not a Chinese one.

9. “If the US contains China, that is wrong. If China contains India, that is fine”. That is the implicit message, which has started coming out loud and clear from the statements of the leftist leaders and their studied silence over Chinese actions which are detrimental to India’s interests.

(The writer, Mr.B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

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