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[经济学人] [2011.10.22]Not as close as lips and teeth未必有唇齿般亲近









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发表于 2011-10-28 17:08 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Not as close as lips and teeth

China should not fear India’s growing friendship with Vietnam
WHEN China’s sovereignty is at issue Global Times, a Beijing newspaper, does not mince words. In September it growled that a contract between Vietnam and an Indian state-owned oil-and-gas company, ONGC, to explore in Chinese-claimed waters in the South China Sea would “push China to the limit”. Yet this month India and Vietnam have reached an agreement on “energy co-operation”. Global Times is incensed that this was signed just a day after Vietnam, during a visit to Beijing by the head of its communist party, Nguyen Phu Trong, had agreed with China on “ground rules” for solving maritime squabbles. Now, thundered the paper, “China may consider taking actions to show its stance and prevent more reckless attempts in confronting China.”

The more sober China Energy News, a publication of the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, has weighed in, warning India that its “energy strategy is slipping into an extremely dangerous whirlpool.” Behind such fulminations lie two Chinese fears. One is that India’s involvement complicates its efforts to have its way in the tangled territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The second is that India and Vietnam are seeking closer relations as part of an American-led strategy to contain China. Even if the first worry has some basis, fears of containment are overblown.

As Mr Trong was in China, however, Vietnam’s president, Truong Tan Sang, was in India, to pursue the two countries’ “strategic partnership”. Paranoid Chinese nationalists could be forgiven for feeling ganged up on. After all, ignoring the border clashes with the former Soviet Union in 1969, these were the countries on the other side of China’s two most recent wars. In both Delhi and Hanoi the experience of brief “punitive” invasion by China respectively still colours attitudes. India was humiliated by China’s foray into what is now Arunachal Pradesh in 1962. Vietnam’s fierce response to the Chinese invasion of 1979 has become part of national legend of perpetual resistance to Chinese domination.

Vietnam still claims the Paracel islands in the South China Sea, from which China evicted it in 1974, as well as the much-contested Spratlys to the south, where over 70 Vietnamese sailors died in clashes with China in 1988. Tension in the area remains high. Earlier this year, after a Vietnamese ship had its surveying cables cut by a Chinese patrol boat, hundreds joined anti-China protests in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

So Vietnam welcomes India’s support, just as it was buoyed last year by America’s declaration, aimed at China’s perceived assertiveness, of a “national interest” in freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Of Vietnam’s partners in the Association of South-East Asian Nations, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines also have partial claims in the sea. Vietnam naturally would like to present as united a front as possible against China’s claims.

It is against this background that some Indian strategists see an opportunity: Vietnam could be “India’s Pakistan”, a loyal ally, as Pakistan is for China, that exerts indirect, debilitating pressure on its strategic rival. Harsh Pant, a professor of defence studies at King’s College, London, argues that Vietnam offers India an entry-point, through which it can “penetrate China’s periphery”.

Tweaking China appeals to Indian diplomats, who habitually complain that their big neighbour refuses to make room for their own country’s rise. Behind that resentment lurks irritation at China’s effort to exert influence in India’s own backyard, not just through its “all-weather” friendship with Pakistan, but in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka as well. Indeed, on Mr Sang’s heels in India came Myanmar’s president, Thein Sein, as India attempts to make up diplomatic ground it has lost to China.
对中国战略调整吸引了一些印度外交家,他们习惯了抱怨印度的大邻居拒绝为印度的提升让出一席之地。在这些愤恨潜伏的背后促进的中国运用对印度自身的影响的努力,不在只是单纯的通过和巴基斯坦的一衣带水的关系,也通过孟加拉国,缅甸,斯里兰卡,事实上,在桑先生的假借印度招来缅甸总理添盛以此作为印度在 外交场上和解的尝试时已经输给了中国。

India also wants to push back against what it sees as Chinese provocations. Among these is the apparent Chinese stoking of the unresolved territorial disputes that led to the 1962 war. In recent years it has revived its claim to most of Arunachal Pradesh. No wonder backing Vietnamese claims in the South China Sea appeals to some Indian hawks. Already, in July, an Indian naval ship off Vietnam ignored a radio warning, apparently from the Chinese navy, that it was entering Chinese waters.

China resents anything that smacks of efforts to thwart its rise as a global power. Talk of India’s selling Vietnam the BrahMos missiles it has developed jointly with Russia is still speculative. But Chinese strategists will fret about the purpose of the regular “security dialogue” agreed on during Mr Sang’s visit. It comes as Indian press reports suggest India has decided to deploy BrahMos missiles in Arunachal, pointed at Chinese-controlled Tibet. Behind India’s assertiveness and its closer ties with Vietnam, China detects America’s hand. In July Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, urged India “to engage east and act east as well”.

Vietnam’s Vietnam  越南的越南
But to see India and Vietnam as compliant partners in an American-orchestrated anti-China front is off the mark for three reasons. Both countries are fiercely independent. Neither is going to do America’s bidding, and Vietnam is certainly not going to be India’s Pakistan. Second, their relations are about far more than China. They go back centuries (it is Indo-China, after all) and have been improving for decades. Sanjaya Baru, editor of the Business Standard, an Indian newspaper, and former spokesman for the prime minister, has called it “perhaps the most well-rounded bilateral relationship that India has with any country”.

Third, both insist—plausibly—that they want good relations with China, now India’s biggest trading partner. And after all, Mr Trong was in China even as Mr Sang was in India. Hu Jintao, China’s president, was reported as counselling Vietnam to “stick to using dialogue and consultations to handle properly problems in bilateral relations.” Of course, if China itself had been consistent in following Mr Hu’s advice, the improvement in relations between India and Vietnam might not have such an impetus behind it, and, viewed from Beijing, might seem far less sinister.
from the print edition | Asia

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