Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Stratfor on India-China Accords

Stratfor (subscription highly recommended) comments today on Mr. Wen's India trip. The following are interesting sections worth reading:

Two strategic partnerships were struck Monday -- one between Russia and Germany, another between China and India.

Beijing is seeking new sources of technology, greater leverage in South Asia and along the energy trade routes, secure borders and a regional geopolitical ally -- particularly one the size of India. New Delhi wants access to the Chinese markets, a level of economic integration to stem the competition between the two populous giants, a redefinition of China's relationship with Pakistan and a large ally among the developing nations.

In the case of a waning Russia and a reawakening Germany --- or a rising-but-shaky China and an emerging India -- the relationships may be no easier to define. Russia and China still view themselves as the greater of the powers, yet their respective needs for Berlin and New Delhi give the emerging powers leverage in setting the tone of the partnerships. There are no equal partners, and this will continue to be a point of friction as long as each of the "strategic partners" views its own interests and goals as superior to those of its partner.

In politics, as in marriage, this is easy to overcome in the early stages: No real serious differences crop up, and any pre-existing conditions can be glossed over until later. But that later will inevitably come -- India will challenge China's relationship with Pakistan or Beijing will question India's ties with Japan. Germany will challenge Russia's energy deals with European competitors, or Moscow will intervene and seek to reshape German investments in Russia. And in all cases, the United States will seek to use its leverage and influence in efforts to put these partnerships asunder.

It is only when real challenges and frictions emerge that the true depth and scope of the strategic partnerships will be seen. But unless one nation is willing to overlook its own interests in favor of another's in order to foster the partnership, these will, in the end, turn out to be fair-weather friendships. Until then, a confluence of interests will drive the relationships, and -- in the interest of harmony -- difficult issues will go on the back burner. But divorce will remain an option.

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