The Candid Eye

December 24, 2009

Can Indian leadership handle China??

This is an excerpt from the article by Tarun Vijay.

The famous hotel Dusit Thani Hua Hin overlooking the gulf of Thailand, where the leaders of India and China met, proudly proclaims, “We use gifts of the heavens to create heaven on earth.” It is one of Thailand’s most scintillating hubs, known for its calm and serene surroundings. I don’t know if the leaders noticed it, but they surely were there to create a better atmosphere between the two nuclear-powered nations which fought a bitter war forty-seven years ago and have been under the shadow of a cold war once again.

Manmohan Singh & Wen Jiabao

Manmohan Singh & Wen Jiabao

The meeting between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Wen Jiabao must help calm the harshness in both the capitals. Prudence and pragmatism prevailed and the outcome was placidly correct. Just correct. Neither yielded the position he has stuck to and neither raised the decibel levels. You couldn’t have expected a tit-for-tat show there and while being conscious of the present situation, if both sides can reconcile themselves to building bridges while sorting out difference, neither loses.

Of late, the Chinese have been pricking Indian sensitivities at an extraordinarily fast pace. So much so that even the electioneering scenes in India were overpowered by the news regarding Chinese incursions, Indian rebuffs, major cover stories in media and the Arunachal CM meeting the Prime Minister.

Interestingly, in such a charged background our cool and gentle Manmohan Singh met Wen Jiabao and felt “excited” as the news reports say. I am sure this must be a reporter’s overenthusiasm, as he might have wanted to convey the thrill of the meeting. The reports said, “Manmohan Singh told Wen: ‘I am excited to see you.’ He said the Chinese people have had a number of achievements “and we share their sense of accomplishment”. He said this in the context of the 60th anniversary of the founding of modern China.”

The Chinese premier was more candid. He said, “We want to have a healthy and steady relationship with India. I hope we can use this opportunity to exchange our views on all related issues.”

As any student of Chinese affairs can tell, understanding diplomacy in Mandarin is a tricky job. Each word and the length of the sentence and similes used to convey the message have to be studied carefully. The official “leaks” do not tell us whether the Indian side conveyed any displeasure or annoyance to the Chinese premier on their cold-war like interventions and the Chinese side, it appears, was calmly “just diplomatically right”. It means they think what they have been doing so far is right and demands no explanation or relook.This must worry us.

The raking up of the border issue so forcefully, in spite of an agreement that the issue will be resolved amicably and through dialogue, has surprised many. While the pro-China lobby in Delhi blamed the American influence for creating an atmosphere that would make the Indian people ask for a reprisal, the factual position about Chinese arrogance spoke a different story. The situation on the Chinese side has to be understood before any final “assault”. The Chinese have grown rich, assertive and xenophobic in their global dreams. And this must make them more interventionist in near future.

It began with the Chinese incursions – observers say there had been more than 218 incursions by the Chinese security personnel since January this year. And the number of such incursions was higher in the Ladakh sector, where they have been successful to also make India dismantle a bridge on the Indus. The experts from Ladakh have been complaining that the Chinese have been intruding the Indian territory, they are not taking our land by inches but by yards. These experts also tells us the points and the nullahs where the Chinese came and then established their dominance. Yet nobody from the South Block took it seriously. Even the Army chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor, and our foreign minister, S M Krishna, gave contradictory statements about incursions. Still the Chinese belligerence didn’t stop. China objected to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Arunachal visit, it began construction work in the Kashmir region which is under illegal occupation of Pakistan, in spite of having conceded by the Indian government that Tibet is a part of China (which the nationalist school of thought will never accept), China keeps showing Kashmir as an independent country and Sikkim has yet to be shown as an Indian state. It also began giving visas to Kashmiris separately and hasn’t quite understood about the terrorist problem India is facing though it would like us to understand its jihadi headache in Xinjiang.

China opposed India’s agreement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), it tried to block Asian Development Bank’s $60 million loan for a power generation project in Arunachal, and more recently it tried its hardest to coerce Southeast Asian nations against inviting India as a member of the East Asia summit. It has not only accepted a “gift” of land from Pakistan, which in fact is claimed by India, but has been strengthening Pakistan militarily by providing nuclear knowhow, among other things. On the maritime front, China is steadfastly modernizing its bases in the Indian Ocean with its port development projects going in full swing in Pakistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

India expressed its concern over China’s new underground nuclear submarine base off the southern tropical island of Hainan. The then Naval chief, Sureesh Mehta, had publicly stated that the base poses a threat to Indian security. On the Arunachal border China has been shifting border pillars and making a dam on the Brahmaputra that would be a potential threat to the Indian people. On the Sikkim border a new highway and permanent army structures have come up. In times of any hostility, the Chinese would be able to cut the Siliguri corridor swiftly. On the other side, a joint command of Lanzhou Military Region opposite Ladakh, Himachal and Uttarakhand has come up. Tibet has become the most powerful Chinese base against India and reports say that China is in a position to send 20,000 troops anywhere on the Indian border from its Tibetan bases within two hours.

By contrast, Indian politicians have no idea what should be their Chinese policy and are busy in petty domestic rumblings or totally uninformed cacophonies. Once Arunachal used to have 12c functional air strips, now it has only two and more accurately just one, to cite an example of our preparedness. It’s only after the media taking up the Chinese threat that India responded by positioning its Sukhoi war planes replacing MIGs on the northeastern front and deciding to revive its four IAF bases on the Arunachal border (Vijaya Nagar, Mechuka, Tuting and Passighat), yet the confidence level hasn’t risen high on our side.

But it would be wrong to conclude that China would engage India in any military assault soon. It would also be imprudent and pathetically unintelligent to put China in the Pakistan category. It has to be a different story – we are not “1962” and China is not Maoist either. Keeping a watch on the factual positions, building our own defence and economy, we must continue to engae China in bilateral relations.

Read the full article here.

Advertisements

September 8, 2009

Chinese incursions in India – 2

Our earlier article is here:- Chinese incursions in India.

After LAC incursions, China now violates International Border in Ladakh

LEH (J&K): After helicopter incursions into Indian airspace, the Chinese Army has brazenly violated the International Border in Ladakh region and painted boulders and rocks in the area red. ( Watch Video )


The Chinese troops entered nearly 1.5 kilometres into the Indian territory near Mount Gya, recognised as International border by India and China, and painted the boulders and rocks with red spray paint, official sources said.

The incursions were reported from the area, generally referred in the Chumar sector in east of Leh, and painted “China” in Cantonese with Red spray paint all over the boulders and rocks, they said.

The 22,420 ft Mount Gya, also known as “fair princess of snow” by Army is located at the tri-junction of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, and Tibet. Its boundary was marked during the British era and regarded as International border by the two countries.

The border patrol discovered the red paint markings on various rocks and boulders along the Zulung La (pass) on July 31 and the Chinese had entered into the area and written “China” and “China” all over the place, the sources said.

When asked to comment on the issue, an Army spokesperson declined to answer any queries regarding this saying it was an operational matter.

August 14, 2009

Chinese incursions in India

Source: TOI

Chinese incursions into Indian territory rose sharply in 2008
Indrani Bagchi

Chinese incursions into Indian territory peaked in 2008, with 270 “violations” being recorded in the western, middle and eastern
sectors. In 2009, they appear to have let up a little on the aggression front, with a little over 60 violations occurring thus far. Chinese violations made headlines last year, signalling a belligerence that made India jittery.

View Map on Google

With the first batch of advanced Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets getting ready to be deployed in Tezpur and Chabua, Assam, India is slowly responding to the uncertainties of Chinese intentions, by enhancing its state of preparedness in the area. According to the former air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, India will deploy a full squadron of these fighter jets in the eastern sector.

Recent figures point to a sharp spike in border violations and aggressive patrolling by Chinese all along the undemarcated border with India since 2007. Aggressive patrolling by Chinese forces, particularly in the western sector, have resulted in 2,285 instances in 2008, as compared to 778 instances in 2007. Indian authorities have recorded 413 instances in 2009 so far.

The brunt of aggressive patrolling by the Chinese has been felt in Demchok, Koyul and Chushul areas in Ladakh. The western sector, i.e. Ladakh, has borne the maximum number of violations, though it’s been the Chinese activity in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim areas that have attracted greater attention. India has, in response, set up forward landing bases in Daulat Beg Oldi and Chushul in Ladakh.

Earlier this year, questioned on the repeated incursions, foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon had told journalists at a function in New Delhi that he did not think these were intended to change the status quo between India and China. “I do not see the kind of changes in the pattern that would suggest that either side is determined to change the status quo or something fundamental has changed for the worse.”

But it is China’s apparently declared interest in southern Tibet and Tawang in the eastern sector that is of greater concern to India, particularly since they continue to press their claim over all of Arunachl Pradesh. In 2008, just the area in Kongra La Pass (what’s popularly known as Finger Point) in north Sikkim recorded six violations.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the Asaphila area and Dichu/Madan Bridge were worst hit, recording violations even this year. But officials describe the area as by and large “stable”. Questioned about repeated incursions by China, officials say it’s a “regular” occurrence and generally downplay it. But security officials say Chinese troops became adventurous even during the recent election season in India, indulging in “aggressive patrolling” in sections of Arunachal Pradesh.

It is in response to these that India has now taken significant steps to beef up security here. Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, General JJ Singh, said on Saturday that two more army divisions will be deployed along the Sino-Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh within a few years.

“It is true that within a few years, two army divisions comprising 25,000 to 30,000 personnel each will be deployed along the Arunachal border as part of planned augmentation of our capabilities to defend the country,” the former army chief was quoted as saying.

“Increase of force strength is to meet future national security challenges,” he added. “Enhancement of quality of weapons, fighting platforms, intelligence gathering along with increased deployment of personnel and Sukhoi combat jets in nearby Tezpur base in Assam besides construction of border roads and other infrastructure are part of the plan to develop capabilities in a phased manner within the next few years to effectively meet challenges in the eastern theatre,” the governor said.

August 13, 2009

China should break up India: Chinese strategist

from Rediff:

Almost coinciding with the 13th round of Sino-Indian border talks (New Delhi, August 7-8, 2009), an article (in the Chinese language) has appeared in China captioned ‘If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up’ (Zhong Guo Zhan Lue Gang, http://www.iiss.org, Chinese, August 8, 2009).
Interestingly, it has been reproduced in several other strategic and military Web sites of the country and by all means, targets the domestic audience. The authoritative host site is located in Beijing  and is the new edition of one, which so far represented the China International Institute for Strategic Studies (www.chinaiiss.org).
Claiming that Beijing’s ‘China-Centric’ Asian strategy, provides for splitting India, the writer of the article, Zhan Lue (strategy), has found that New Delhi’s corresponding ‘India-Centric’ policy in Asia, is in reality a ‘Hindustan centric’ one. Stating that on the other hand ‘local centres’ exist in several of the country’s provinces (excepting for the UP and certain northern regions), Zhan Lue has felt that in the face of such local characteristics, the ‘so-called’ Indian nation cannot be considered as one having existed in history.
According to the article, if India today relies on any thing for unity, it is the Hindu religion. The partition of the country was based on religion. Stating that today nation states are the main current in the world, it has said that India could only be termed now as a ‘Hindu religious state’. Adding that Hinduism is a decadent religion as it allows caste exploitation and is unhelpful to the country’s modernisation, it described the Indian government as one in a dilemma with regard to eradication of the caste system as it realises that the process to do away with castes may shake the foundation of the consciousness of the Indian nation.
The writer has argued that in view of the above, China in its own interest and the progress of Asia, should join forces with different nationalities like the Assamese, Tamils, and Kashmiris and support the latter in establishing independent nation-States of their own, out of India. In particular, the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) in Assam, a territory neighboring China, can be helped by China so that Assam realises its national independence.

The article has also felt that for Bangladesh, the biggest threat is from India, which wants to develop a great Indian Federation extending from Afghanistan to Myanmar. India is also targeting China with support to Vietnam’s efforts to occupy Nansha (Spratly) group of islands in South China Sea.
Hence the need for China’s consolidation of its alliance with Bangladesh, a country with which the US and Japan are also improving their relations to counter China.
It has pointed out that China can give political support to Bangladesh enabling the latter to encourage ethnic Bengalis in India to get rid of Indian control and unite with Bangladesh as one Bengali nation; if the same is not possible, creation of at least another free Bengali nation state as a friendly neighbour of Bangladesh, would be desirable, for the purpose of weakening India’s expansion and threat aimed at forming a ‘unified South Asia’.
The punch line in the article has been that to split India, China can bring into its fold countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, support ULFA in attaining its goal for Assam’s independence, back aspirations of Indian nationalities like the Tamils and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give a push to the independence of West Bengal and lastly recover the 90,000 sq km territory in southern Tibet.
Wishing for India’s break-up into 20 to 30 nation-States like in Europe, the article has concluded by saying that if the consciousness of nationalities in India could be aroused, social reforms in South Asia can be achieved, the caste system can be eradicated and the region can march along the road of prosperity.
The Chinese article in question will certainly outrage readers in India. Its suggestion that China can follow a strategy to dismember India, a country always with a tradition of unity in diversity, is atrocious, to say the least. The write-up could not have been published without the permission of the Chinese authorities, but it is sure that Beijing will wash its hands out of this if the matter is taken up with it by New Delhi.

It has generally been seen that China is speaking in two voices — its diplomatic interlocutors have always shown understanding during their dealings with their Indian counterparts, but its selected media is pouring venom on India in their reporting. Which one to believe is a question confronting the public opinion and even policy makers in India.
In any case, an approach of panic towards such outbursts will be a mistake, but also ignoring them will prove to be costly for India.
D S Rajan, is Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies.

D S Rajan

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.