One war, numerous militarized incidents, competition for economic and political influence over the region, supply of military aid to each other’s neighbors, key players in overall grand strategy, and old civilizations with worldwide diasporas and competing cuisine.
Forget all that.
India’s external affairs minister S M Krishna met with his Chinese counterpart yesterday, and then reassured everyone by issuing the following statement:
India and China may be competitive in economic and trade areas, but they are not rivals. There is enough space for both India and China to grow.
“Space,” huh? I guess each other’s space programs don’t see it that way. From launching satellites to making plans for manned flights to the moon, the program of each has taken cue from that of its rival. It’s the next space race of the world.
Anyway, rivalry is actually not a bad thing. Rivalry, as opposed to competition, connotes the importance of strategy. Two countries, or companies, can be competitors just by existing in the same competitive space. But two rivals make policies by considering each other’s moves.
Strategic policymaking between rivals, as I have argued in my book and elsewhere, makes government efficient and privileges pro-growth economic policies. In the 1970s, improvements in India’s strategic culture, bureaucracy, and industrial policy owed much to the war and subsequent rivalry with China. The pace and extent of India’s open-economy policies since 1991 have been influenced considerably by China’s policy path since 1978.
And in the end, all that has been a very good thing for the Indian economy. So, long live the rivalry.