March 07, 2007
A passage to India,
or a slow boat to China? At last, Stephen Harper's government might
be making the right choice.
years Canadian diplomacy has emphasized China over India. But next
week, Trade Minister David Emerson's high-profile India mission
can bring a needed change -- provided Canada's government is prepared
to pursue the right initiatives.
rebalance relations in favour of India?
is the world's biggest dictatorship. It does not share our Canadian
values, nor is it our friend. China is landlord to the globe's largest
gulag, with executions by the thousands. Canadians should be concerned
about China's burgeoning imperialism, aggressive military, alarming
18-per-cent military budget growth, nuclear aircraft carriers, satellite-killers
-- and sending Silkworm missiles, nuclear technology and weapons
grab-bags to Iran. Add to that the harassing of democratic Taiwan,
spying on Canadian industry and technology, and agents bullying
Canadian Chinese immigrants for co-operation, and we must ask ourselves
why we have been so ready to do business with Beijing.
this to a sister Commonwealth democracy offering a healthy economic,
political and social alternative. India is better for Canadians
in the long run.
economics. By December, even the China-friendly Asia Times conceded
that "India has gate crashed into the list of ... the fastest-growing
economies in the world.
elephant has finally begun to trot."
wonder. India's annual GDP growth is now only one percentage point
short of China's 10 per cent. And by some accounts the subcontinent
is pushing a broader spectrum -- both manufacturing and services
-- than China's emphasis on manufacturing. Fortune magazine tellingly
titled an assessment, "Why India will overtake China."
China, India must parry inflationary thrusts, and Delhi's infrastructural
and labour-related decision-making are inefficient. This is thanks
to India's share of the usual democratic tensions connected with
competing labour, capital, rural, urban, regional, and even caste
as Indian journalist Siddharth Srivastava correctly argues, these
tensions give his country a priceless long-term advantage over China:
"Growth is more equitable, which is a much more sustainable
trajectory." Indeed, democracy gives citizens levers to deal
with challenges such as growth-related pollution, levers unavailable
to China's overwhelmed peasants.
"equity impulse" comes through in India's struggle to
resolve rural-urban disparity. Indians pay no tax on farm income.
But in good "socialist" tradition, rural Chinese taxes
in 10 years rose 800 per cent -- but farm incomes, only 90 per cent.
there is India's growing market of 300 million middle-class purchasers.
And another advantage over China: English is an official language
of both India and Canada. Happy Canadian marketers find ready audiences
in India's 300 million English speakers.
will brighten further, with reports of 1,500 new Indian colleges
to be under construction by 2012.
light of all this, the Harper government must recognize where Canada's
true national economic interest resides, and engage more fully with
India. Besides, economics isn't the only reason.
through its multi-ethnic, multi-religious secular-democratic system
of governance, has come to maturity as the world's biggest democracy.
A fellow-inheritor of British judicial traditions of rule of law
and due process, it leaves Beijing's neo-Stalinist secret police
skulking far behind. To treat with India is to reinforce human rights
and constitutional government for a good proportion of the planetary
population. To treat with Beijing is to reinforce a police or gulag
slave state -- and one that undermines our balance of payments and
employment, to boot.
of al-Qaeda long before the United States was ever struck, India's
government responds with restraint and dignity to radical Islamist
murder sprees, including Pakistan-based ones. Its attempts to work
with its Muslim minority are reminiscent of Canada's own preoccupation
India puts its money where its liberal-democratic mouth is, reinforcing
the global defence against Islamist terror by pumping more than
$750 million into Afghan aid since 2001. Through this, India has
made itself a best friend of Afghanistan's moderate Karzai government,
and a staunch comrade and strategic partner in Canada's combat and
rebuilding mission in the region. India is a worthy bulwark and
ally in Canada's defence against Islamofascist infiltration and
contrast India's defence-oriented military with Chinese President
Hu Jintao's ominous expansionist talk about its "historical
mission." As Tibet languishes under New China's jackboot, India
notes uneasily its totalitarian neighbour's appetite for Indian
with India, including diplomatic and military co-operation, will
benefit the wider international democratic community. Besides, it
just might send a message to Iran, Sudan, Pakistan and other Chinese-armed
how should Trade Minister Emerson take all this into account next
week? Make clear that Ottawa will build India more fully into Canada's
policies and plans. Make India -- and not just, as at present, China
-- part of the billion-dollar Asia-Pacific Gateway Strategy. Work
to develop educational, social, business promotion and trade links
with Delhi. Expand Canada-India foreign direct investment. Recognize
the moral authority of the largest democracy, by supporting India's
bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council -- where China
is already ensconced. And, without delay, accelerate progress on
these fronts by ensuring that the next passage to India has the
prime minister, finance minister and other ministers on board.
is the future that Canada should be part of. India is one boat Mr.
Harper's ministers shouldn't miss.
Harris is a lawyer, senior fellow for national security at the Canadian
Coalition for Democracies (www.canadiancoalition.com), and former
Canadian Security Intelligence Service chief of strategic planning.
He is counsel to the CCD, which is intervening in the Air India