Blogging from India #3 The larger context of Pelosis visit to India

PWW Editor Teresa Albano is blogging from India, where she is attending the conventions of the Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist). The parties hold seats in the national Parliament and lead the governments in three of India’s states.

HYDERABAD, India — When newspapers here reported a visit to India by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), eyebrows were raised. Pelosi, the first woman to hold the position of House speaker, is known in the U.S. as a common-sense progressive on many important issues. For example, she has opposed the Iraq war from the start.

But one area toward which Pelosi takes a hawk position is China. Pelosi represents a district in San Francisco where a significant section of business favors Taiwan and takes an anti-Communist, hostile position towards China.

Many who follow U.S. and Indian politics wondered if Pelosi's visit was intended to be used against China. The answer appeared in the Deccan Chronicle, the area’s largest English-language daily newspaper, with its headline, “Pelosi in India to tick off China.”

After Pelosi met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she met with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. In a speech given in New Delhi afterwards, she urged the world to denounce China for its alleged repression in Lhasa, Tibet.

China was quick to reply that Tibet is an “internal affair.' China's ambassador to India Zhang Yan told reporters, 'We don't allow any country to meddle in China's internal affairs.”

India and China have had a long and mixed history, including an ongoing border dispute which at times has erupted in armed conflict. During the Cold War and after the Soviet-Chinese split, India was viewed as pro-Soviet. And China developed military and economic relations with Pakistan.

India and China, the world’s two most populous countries, each have growing economies and needs including energy. In competitive capitalist terms, there is a rivalry between the two, something the U.S. would like to use to pit one against the other. The Communists in India and China, however. emphasize peaceful cooperation and sharing mutual interests to bring their countries’ populations out of deep poverty.

U.S. corporate and military interests seek to build relations with India and to weave her into their grand geopolitical web to isolate China and stop its rise as an economic and political powerhouse.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently toured Asian countries, including India, to counter China’s rise in the region.

Writing in the Deccan Chronicle, Harsh V. Pant, a professor at London’s King College, says Gates’ visit “sends a clear sign to China that the U.S. is back and has no intention of ceding strategic space to China.”

In recent years, U.S. imperialist influence has lost ground in the region to the Chinese alternative. Many fault the Bush administration’s neo-conservative obsession with the “war on terror,” which has led to the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, for not keeping up with U.S. corporate and military interests in other parts of the world.

Alternatively, China tells neighboring countries that its “rise” in the region would be different than other powers in history. They call it the “Peaceful Rise.”

Gates’ visit to India garnered much attention because of an emerging “U.S.-India partnership,” which the Communists and the left in India see as a dangerous development for India’s historic “independent” foreign policy.

The U.S.-India nuclear pact is deadlocked in the Indian Parliament by Communists and left parties who say “mend it or end it.”

India has also emerged as one of the biggest buyers of arms in the global market, writes Pant. As the U.S. is the largest seller of arms, it would want to tap into the $40 billion India is expected to spend in the coming years. India has already signed a controversial deal with the U.S. to buy C-130 transport planes and a “used” warship.

Pelosi’s visit to India and denunciation of socialist-oriented China perhaps represents a different section of U.S. ruling interests but it takes place in this larger context of the U.S. anti-socialist, anti-China geopolitical strategies.

Read Albano's earlier posts: