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COVID19 & War? Do India and China only have two choices?
The relationship between India and China seems to have become very dangerous recently. Is this really what we want? COVID-19 threatens both India and China, but, perhaps, this is not the most critical threat. In their long histories, both India and China have rich experience in fighting plagues. I believe both countries will eventually be able to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, which is not the most important thing at this juncture. The most critical question is, is it necessary to go to a border war while both countries encounter the COVID-19 crisis?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, China and India’s economies have suffered great tests that have exposed many problems, but starting a war does not seem to be the best choice to rebuild both countries’ economies. As a Chinese person, frankly speaking, although China has contained the pandemic, we face many problems. For example, many software engineers in China face the fate of being fired by companies by the age of 30, because these companies only want to squeeze high profits from young people. However, at the same time, China’s aging problem is getting more and more serious; there are fewer young people, and labour costs are getting higher and higher. This is a contradictory phenomenon. On the one hand, companies do not want to hire middle-aged people over 30 years old, and on the other hand, there are fewer and fewer young people available.
"Since the COVID-19 pandemic, China and India’s economies have suffered great tests that have exposed many problems, but starting a war does not seem to be the best choice to rebuild both countries’ economies"
In addition to labour issues, China is also facing astronomical real estate prices and excessive overcapacity. Just as a Forbes report on October 29, 2019 stated, “China’s housing prices [are] rising to unaffordable heights, but larger down payments are being required, and mortgage interest rates are going up, making buying a home seem more and more like a far-off dream for the average Chinese millennial.” In China, the high housing prices drive young people to work just like slaves, struggling to pay off their monthly housing mortgage or housing rent.
Besides, China currently has a problem with overcapacity in the manufacturing industry. Excessive overcapacity will directly lead to a huge waste of resources and energy, vicious competition between peers, a sharp drop in product prices, and increased trade friction, ultimately directly affecting the healthy development of the entire national economy. China has paid a high price for removing capacity. Take the steel industry as an example. The South China Morning Post writes,”China has slashed total steel production capacity by more than 150 million tonnes since 2016, or 114 percent of the global steel capacity cut … and China has redeployed 280,000 steelworkers, which is more than the combined deployed number of steelworkers in the US, the EU, and Japan.”
That is a tremendous amount of production capacity. And in the process of cutting the production capacity of China’s steel industry, a large number of steelworkers could have to face a job crisis. China wants to have a stable international and domestic environment to complete the de-capacity and manufacturing upgrade. That is one of the reasons why China had recently launched a “dual circulation” strategy.
Judging from the laws of history, when a country faces challenges in its economic development, the people’s demands for war will also increase. If the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy cannot be resolved in time, the probability of conflicts on the border between China and India will increase. The potential war is a problem that neither China nor India can avoid. But will the war benefit China and India? I think this is a question that both the Chinese and Indian people need to think about calmly.
"If the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy cannot be resolved in time, the probability of conflicts on the border between China and India will increase. The potential war is a problem that neither China nor India can avoid"
The Indian friends I know made me realise that India is developing rapidly, but maintaining social peace and stability can allow the country to grow faster. I am an artificial intelligence engineer, and Indian people write many of the books I read about on computers and artificial intelligence. I have befriended many Indians on GITHUB.com. They can write exquisite computer programs, have full confidence in India’s development, and have created tremendous wealth. I bought many courses from Indian computer experts on udemy.com. From their online courses, I have learnt how to develop blockchain projects and how to code artificial intelligence vision recognition. They are very enthusiastic and are patient when it comes to teaching me how to become an excellent artificial intelligence engineer and use artificial intelligence to make myself wealthier. I can feel that these Indian friends I know are promoting the rapid development of India’s economy.
If there is a border war between China and India in the future, I can hardly imagine how we should face each other when my Indian friends and I meet on the battlefield. A peaceful and stable environment is the best choice for both Indians and Chinese. I think China and India are not at the point where they want to kill each other. What we need is more communication.
The biggest problem between China and India is the lack of economic and trade cooperation between SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), making the Chinese and Indian people lack an understanding of each other. In the past three years, I have been honoured to meet some Indian students who have come to study in China and they have expressed that the Chinese and Indian people are not too different from each other. The main misunderstanding comes from the lack of communication channels between the two countries. For example, the business cooperation between China and India is mostly limited to some large companies. However, thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises in India constitute the main driving force for developing the Indian economy. These small and medium-sized enterprises lack opportunities to conduct trade with Chinese companies. This issue is far more important than starting a war on the border, because economic and trade cooperation is a win-win for China and India, and it can also make both Chinese and Indian entrepresuers and citizens more prosperous.
The COVID-19 virus cannot be a reason to hinder close communication between China and India but should be an opportunity for friendly cooperation. We can reject the peaceful and friendly dialogue between the Chinese and Indians for thousands of reasons but perhaps it could be more meaningful to help each other to get through the COVID-19 crisis than to start a war. As a scholar, I want to hear the opinions of Indian scholars on the relationship between China and India in the future. No matter what standpoint we hold, our efforts for China and India’s joint peaceful development are meaningful. At least we should work hard for common peace before the consequences of a breach in the peace are felt in reality.
Yushu Liu (RDCY)
15 December 2020