Act on Indirect Chinese Threats

Z1pn9iz9China remains as the indirect enemy for India’s growth. By aiding Pakistan and other neighbhours against India the red nation plays its danger card safely without revealing to the external world. Now India should safely steer clear the evil designs of Chinese and ensure its supremacy in the world stage soon. Expecting Chinese to help India in the global arena will be foolish.

G. Parathasarthy writes in The Times of India (29 June 2009)

Dwelling on the prospects for Sino-Indian relations just after his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Yekaterinburg, on the sidelines of
the BRIC summit of emerging world economies, Chinese president Hu Jintao said: “Both sides should make steady progress in pushing for dialogue and cooperation.” The two Asian neighbours have cooperated closely in international forums on crucial economic issues like global economic recovery and the restructuring of international financial institutions. India and China have made common cause on vital issues of climate change, indicating that while they share a common interest with the developed world in arresting global warming, they would not succumb to pressures that would limit their common quest for economic development.

Sino-Indian cooperation on such issues has, however, been overshadowed by some disturbing policies adopted by China in recent days. Quite evidently bolstered by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s comments that US-China relations are the most important bilateral relationship in the 21st century and by a realisation that the US needs its cooperation to revive its crisis-ridden economy, China has become more assertive in recent days in flexing its muscles across the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. It has overridden the concerns of its neighbours on its territorial claims in the South China Seas by extending its maritime boundaries with Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines unilaterally.

This has been combined with a continuing barrage against India, not only denigrating India’s economic development and its approach to neighbours like Pakistan, but also issuing not too thinly veiled warnings about its territorial claims to Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers to as “Southern Tibet”.

The policy of denigrating India picked up steam after the 26/11 terrorist carnage in Mumbai. Government-controlled media organisations in mainland China and Hong Kong launched an anti-India barrage claiming that “the Indian government’s eagerness to declare the attacks were carried out by foreign forces was an attempt to cover up internal contradictions”. The official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, the People’s Daily, proclaimed on December 2 that the attack was “a major blow to India’s big power ambitions”. More recently on June 19, it claimed that the “mindset” of people in India towards China is one of “awe, vexation, envy and jealousy”.

What has raised concerns in New Delhi is that, as China now displays its military might openly and calls on the commander of the US Pacific Fleet to recognise the Indian Ocean as a Chinese sphere of influence to be managed by Chinese nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers (a suggestion the Americans rejected), we are also witnessing growing aggressiveness in Chinese claims to the entire territory of Arunachal Pradesh. This is a far cry from China’s position in 2005, when it implicitly agreed that in resolving the border issue, the status of populated areas on both sides of the line of control would remain unchanged. Just after the Mumbai attack, a publication in a Chinese government-linked think tank noted, even before Pakistan claimed that India was manifesting aggressive intentions, that “China can support Pakistan in the event of a war”. Post-Mumbai, China has blocked attempts in the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Maulana Masood Azhar, head of the Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Matters came to a head when China formally blocked the passage of a $2.9 billion assistance programme for India, from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), merely because it contained provisions for aid to developmental projects in “Southern Tibet”. New Delhi reacted strongly and China stood isolated when every other ADB member including Pakistan rejected its objections and endorsed the assistance package for India. The Americans appear to have signalled that they do not favour Chinese aggressiveness in putting forward claims to Arunachal Pradesh. And Pakistan realised that backing the Chinese line could result in the end of international developmental assistance for projects in PoK. What now appears clear is that while the US and its European partners would seek Chinese participation and support in dealing with international issues, they will not endorse manifestations of Chinese aggressiveness.

India has complemented its diplomatic success on Arunachal Pradesh in the ADB by deciding to bolster its defence preparedness in the state, with the decision to enhance military deployment with two additional mountain divisions and supporting artillery. New Delhi has also boosted its air power with the induction of frontline SU 30 aircraft into the north-east.

But both our service officers and defence scientists would be well-advised to remember that mature nations do not speak strongly or publicly about military deployments on disputed borders. Statements and leaks to the press about troop and air power deployments in Arunachal, or about development of China-specific Agni 3 and Agni 5 missiles, are uncalled for and appear to forget the old adage that actions speak louder than words. There are areas where we can and should cooperate with China on the global stage. At the same time, proactive diplomacy can deal with the strategic challenges that China poses in our Indian Ocean neighbourhood.

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