No to RCEP, No to Asia-Pacific Initiative of US! India needs independent initiative opposing both imperialist led blocks!

20 November 2020
K2_ITEM_AUTHOR 

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Participation (RCEP) that came into existence on November 15, 2020, is one of world's largest trading blocs accounting for about 30 percent of global GDP and one-third of world population.  Despite strong opposition from Indian farmers and all concerned,  Modi was actively participating in the 6 years of long drawn out intense bi-partisan talks with 10 member- ASEAN and other 5 big players, namely, China, Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand in the grouping.

 Today the explanation from New Delhi for not joining RCEP that the govt "moved away from trading agreement on account of  Atmanirbhar Bharat policy" and in  view of "comprehensive national power", is a sommersault.  Now Modi govt.says that "the effect of past trade agreements has been to de-industrialise some sectors? The consequences of future ones would lock into global commitments, many of them not to our advantage. If it is a fact, then why Modi was hobnobbing with Chinese leadership for so long to come out of the talks? Those who argue for Modi should understand that “stressing openness and efficiency do not present the full picture."  Because, when the RSS policy of partnership with the US led imperialist powers is very clear, this sudden boasting of self-reliance  lacks credibility and substance, at a time when Modi has been increasingly opening up the Indian economy to the diktats of US imperialism firmly adhering itself as the strategic junior partner of US imperialism in latter's Indo-Pacific geopolitical moves especially directed against China.  

For, before India's departure from the grouping on the eve of its finalisation by the turn of 2020, at every stage of the discussions, Modi could apparently resolve the economic conflicts with other members of RCEP, except China which was refusing to accept  India's demands on a host of issues pertaining to agriculture, industry and services. And the other members of RCEP have in fact acknowledged India's value as a market and are even ready to accommodate its concerns. 

 

As a matter of fact, with his far-right economic orientation, Modi's track record is that of a staunchest supporter of globalisation and liberalisation and full opening up of markets to foreign players.  Hence, the real reason on India's part for not joining RCEP is geo-political. For, being the biggest player in Asia, through RCEP, China has won the geo-political battleground of Asia-Pacific for global domination. The withdrawal of Trump, the outgoing US president from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal three years ago,  and  his conspicuous absence from the ASEAN Summit since 2017 which the Washington Post recently characterised as a "massive unforced error", have already enabled Chinese imperialism to have its strategic say in the Asia-Pacific. 

 

In fact, though economic factors and protest within India played their roles, rather than national interest, it is the political factor arising from lack of green signal from the US that prompted Modi, the junior partner of US imperialism, to exhibit a cold feet on RCEP.  With China's clout increasing several-fold and Modi being unable to play the inevitable second fiddle to China at  RCEP, had left no other option except to quit.

 

On the other hand, Modi regime will be planning to fully integrate the collapsing Indian economy with the crisis-ridden Western imperialist capital and markets and to the geo-political interests of NATO. As India did not join the RCEP, the peasants, and vast unorganised and informal sectors in India have a sigh of relief, which would have led to a massive flooding of vast Indian internal market with cheap Chinese goods. But, what is going to happen is that  Modi will use this tactical retreat for intensified integration of Indian economy with Western imperialist powers including US. Indications are already there that Biden, the new US President, is devising the process of reversing Trump's so called "protectionist" policies towards an aggressive globalisation by reviving many of the regional trade agreements like Trans-Pacific Partnership abandoned by Trump.To be precise, in spite of much trumpeted Atmanirbhar, in view of  Modi's past record based on RSS positions, India's exit from RCEP is only a temporary relief for the Indian people. But, darker days are ahead as Modi in all likelihood will more closely ally India very soon with the Western markets.

In the present world situation, if the interests of Indian people have to be protected, India should come out of the whole neo-liberal, corporate policies which both the imperialist blocks advocate with their own interpretations, and develop its own independent line trying to win over at least the SAARC countries to its side. But it was too much to expect from the Congress governments of the past, and impossible to expect from the RSS led Modi government, who cannot think beyond keeping India as a loyal junior partner in strategic relationship with US imperialism. For achieving such an independent self-reliant, alternative the revolutionary classes should be mobilized for a system change.

CPI(ML) Red Star.

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Kabeer Katlat

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.