India, China destined to be rivals: Former NSA M K Narayanan

MK Narayanan

Underlining that India and China are to an extent destined by geography to be "rivals", West Bengal Governor and former National Security Advisor M K Narayanan today said Beijing's increasing assertiveness on its part while dealing with disputes is "most disconcerting".

He also said Chinese activities in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and its "not-so-subtle wooing" of some of India's neighbours to New Delhi's detriment is a matter of concern.

Narayanan added that potential for a conflict also exists as competition between India and China for new energy sources intensify.

"To some extent, China and India are destined by geography to be rivals: neighbours with large populations, old civilisations, rich and venerable cultures, and disputes with regard to their borders," Narayanan, who is also a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau said in his keynote address at the annual Australia India Institute conference on India here.

"The two countries are, nevertheless, far apart civilisationally and in their makeup," he said adding that "elected accountability in India is an important point of difference".

Addressing the large gathering, Narayanan said strategic rivalries were on the rise in Asian region.

Most analysts see the main rivalry in Asia as being between India and China though both countries disclaim the existence of such rivalry, he said.

Moreover, Chinese scholars appear unable to comprehend the true nature of India's ethnic, religious, ideological and economic makeup.

The strident claims made by Chinese academics and strategic thinkers for Chinese exceptionalism hardly helps, Narayanan, who was also involved in negotiations for resolving boundary disputes with China said.

He drew a stark contrast between the two Asian nations by stating that while the Chinese economy was assessed today as the second largest in the world with its GDP at USD 10 trillion and is still growing, India's economic performance has not been of the same order.

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