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HomeOpinionIndia’s answer to China’s Claim Line also lies in 1959

India’s answer to China’s Claim Line also lies in 1959

Like in fairy tales, the dragon’s life is not in its fire power. It could be in one of the soft underbellies, or all of them.

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The seventh round of military-level talks to be held on 12 October between India and China to resolve the five-month-long standoff in Ladakh may turn out to be decisive, but only in finalising the date for the eighth round of deliberations. Going by China’s stand and seriousness, rather the lack of it, in resolving the issue, New Delhi should not hope much.

According to reports, the Chinese side expects India to vacate the southern bank of Pangong Tso and also its positions along the Rezang La ridgeline. India has been insisting that the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, should withdraw from Finger Four on the northern bank of the Pangong Tso. In fact, India has reiterated its stand that the PLA should withdraw up to Finger Eight, which was the Chinese position before the April 2020 troop advance began into areas that India considers a violation as per its perception of the Line of Actual Control, or LAC. Meanwhile, there is little doubt that the situation remains extremely complex on the northern border.


Also read: China looked at India under British rule as a teacher — of what not to be


Winter or not, China will act

China has introduced newer elements of complication into the talks by raising the issue of the 1959 Claim Line. India has rejected the suggestion and asked Beijing to “refrain from advancing an untenable unilateral interpretation” of the de-facto border. Contrary to information on the pullback by the two armies in some areas of conflict, the current position is that there are more than half-a-dozen points of intense contestation between the two sides with both the armies in a near eyeball-to-eyeball position. According to some commentators, the onset of snowfall may deter the Chinese from further military action or advancement, and stay put in the current position. The Indian Army, too, will stay in its positions.

But, going by past experiences, China’s tradition of springing a surprise on its adversaries and given the domestic constraints of PLA’s Commander-in-chief, Xi Jinping, New Delhi should be prepared to face limited military action by the Chinese. The PLA will try to consolidate its position for a better bargain with India and for the furtherance of Beijing’s strategic objective.


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India’s options

Any strategic advantage of China is at the cost of and to the detriment of India’s security and power equations in the region. It is, therefore, important that while we fortify our military capabilities in the conflict zone, we also hit China where it will hurt Beijing’s interests the most. A letter from the press section of the Embassy of China in India, widely circulating on social media, ‘advises’ the Indian media not to refer to Taiwan as a “country (nation)” or “Republic of China”.

New Delhi should convey to Beijing in clear and unequivocal terms that the question of one-China policy is not a settled one and that India reserves the right to review its ‘long-standing official position’ anytime and in any manner, unilaterally. The human rights excesses in Xinjiang and Tibet, the inhuman treatment of the Uyghurs and the Tibetans, especially the monks, should be raised in as many international forums as possible. Like in fairy tales, the dragon’s life is not in its firepower; it could be in one of the soft underbellies or all of them.

Xinjiang, Tibet and Taiwan continue to remain a source of concern for Beijing despite its increased socio-political and economic influence in these areas. Beijing’s command structure in these regions is unassailable with strong multi-layered military and security arrangements. China’s foray into these contentious pockets and the subsequent annexation of Xinjiang and Tibet gave it a great advantage in establishing borders with Central Asian countries such as Nepal and India. China had no border with India till it quelled the rebellion by brute military force and annexed Tibet in 1959.


Also read: Why has India’s China policy been such a failure? Question New Delhi’s assumptions first


China-Russia axis

The disintegration of the USSR offered a great opportunity for China to expand its economic outreach to the newly formed Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Central Asian states that were once under the political and economic umbrella of the Soviet Union. The US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Kosovo operations in 1999 had adversely impacted US-China relations and increased Beijing’s threat perception of Washington. Moscow, too, had ample security and strategic reasons to regain foothold in countries that were once its backyard. The increased strategic and economic relevance of the new geography brought China and Russia on one platform, extending their common sphere of influence and economic and techno-military muscle.

But recent events have indicated a shift in strategic posturing of the two partners to the advantage of New Delhi. The recent Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Moscow and the second round of Quad meeting in Tokyo should be seen in this light.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been vocal in his condemnation of China’s hegemonic agenda for quite some time now. At the start of the Quad meeting in Tokyo, where the foreign ministers of Australia, India, Japan and the US converged to take the idea of grouping further, Pompeo reiterated the need for a free and open Indo-Pacific. But more importantly, he emphasised on the criticality of the allies to collaborate against the Chinese Communist Party’s “exploitation, coercion and corruption”.

After the SCO meeting in Moscow, both, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar returned via Tehran and held important meetings with their respective Iranian counterparts. The fact that the US threatens to use The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on any country that has strategic and/or military relationship with Iran and Russia, among other countries mentioned in the Act, did not deter India from engaging with these two nations. New Delhi has to make its choices wisely at this stage of confrontation with China, but it cannot allow its shoulders to be used as a firing board for any power.

The author is the former editor of ‘Organiser’. Views are personal.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) DID detre India from importing Iranian oil. The US gave India one extension of time fro importing the oil from Iran. THAT WAS ALL. Regarding importing weapons from Russia, the US only showed its displeasure, but didn’;t threatened to impose the sanctions against India.

  2. Let us face it : Hindu nationalists have no answer to China.

    The preoccupation of Hindu nationalists is to fight with Muslims in India and assert their supremacy, and have a society run according to the dharma, which means Manusmriti.

  3. “New Delhi cannot allow its shoulders to be used as a firing board for any power.”
    This is so frustrating. Why do we waste all opportunity when it knocks on our door? USA is about to be in a cold war with China for the next few decades. Why can’t we realize that the interests of USA, Japan, India and Vietnam are all aligned against China? Form an alliance against China! Now! Otherwise, China will take down all 4 one by one.

    • USA and Japan,do not have borders with China. Vietnam is too small to count. All of them have deep business ties with China.

      India has borders with China. China can keep encroaching, support Kashmiris, and get Pak. into a two front war.

      Hindu nationalists do not have enough brains to handle China, as recent events have proved. They are preoccupied with beating up minorities in Delhi and Gujarat, but that is of little use facing China.

  4. The article seems to be incomplete as it is not clear what the final conclusion is. Strategic autonomy for India is one issue but to deal with China, we need USA along with Russia and we will have to do tight rope walking and compromise and/or placate both the sides till we are dependent on their arms and technology. But the fact is India will have to be ready to fight its own war with China and Modi has shown the resolve to do this. Let us see how we tackle the summer of 2021.

    • ‘But the fact is India will have to be ready to fight its own war with China and Modi has shown the resolve to do this. ‘

      How did you deduce this ? Modi said no incursions happened. He looked like a beaten dog though.

      If you provoke China, India will get a beating. Hindu nationalism will be of no use.

  5. As a Indian-American I find this advise bad. Either you are for something or against. India should give up non alingnment and join the western bloc. It should commit to a security treaty with Britian and USA and come to the aid of both. Our soldiers were part of British army…that is the tradition…that is what kept us safe.
    Either you are japan and USA and will back you up or go it alone. Going alone means divide and rule by china.

    Ask Indian software engineers if clamoring to go to China or USA for studies. Then give them a choice of Europe or USA. Where do you think the indian heart and mind lies.

    • First of all, Indian American, learn how to spell ‘advice’.

      You are a confused, servile Hindu. Your type believes nationalism is to beat up minorities in India to show Hindu power. At the same time, your type advocates being servile and fighting for America,

      Americans will ask you to come and fight for them in Iraq. But if war broke out against China, no American will come and die for you. Indians died for the British. At no time did the British die for Indians.

      Hindus need to learn how to manage the country better, build India’s economy, improve relations with all neighbours, and stop posing as a superpower.

      The US, Russia and China do have the ability to be superpowers as the people are well fed, educated and technological. India is ill fed, partially educated, and hardly technological. Besides India is saddled with a caste system, and Hindus use anti-Muslim communalism to cover that up. All India has is a big population and hence it believes it is entitled to be a superpower.

      • Why the hell you are bringing
        in India’s minor domestic issues
        when one discuss international
        relations of India? Shri Modiji
        is capable dealing with and he
        very well shown this.
        You must be a Paki and hence
        taking a concocted view.
        Our EA ministry is full of well
        experienced startergically thinking
        people. Please stop advising how
        and what India should do.
        startergic

  6. Finally one author in The Print who makes strategic sense compared to China sold outs being given the platform to pontificate and insult Indians. Being leftist of left of center thinking newspaper is ok, but being a direct chinese mouthpiece and a sell out while enjoying perks in India is not.

  7. China has invaded India……………….Modi cannot dare to take Indian land back………………………period !!!

    • Modi said very emphatically that China did not invade India.

      But his bhakths like Chari are agitated and are fantasizing about war with China.

      In one of his tête-à-têtes with Xi, Modi coined an acronym STREANH laced with optimism about Indo-Chinese relationship that he saw blossoming :

      S – for Spirituality
      T –for Tradition, Trade and Technology
      R –for Relationship
      E –for Entertainment
      A –for Art
      N- for Nature
      H – for Health Sector

      When the west denied a visa to Modi because he organised the Gujarat 2002 massacre, China picked him up. Modi was so relieved, he was ready to touch their feet. The Chinese knew how to milk his psyche.

  8. ‘The human rights excesses in Xinjiang and Tibet, the inhuman treatment of the Uyghurs and the Tibetans’.

    Mr. Chari, the RSS fascist, should explain on what grounds India can raise the trampling of human rights in Tibet and Xinjiang, when India is doing the same in Kashmir, and also the RSS is building concentration camps for Muslims.

    The US, Japan and Australia can raise it, but not India. The Chinese can easily fund Kashmiris and other mistreated groups in India. So fix India’s house first before lecturing others.

    People like you have spent your lifetime to weaken India with your Hindu communalism, so you cannot be India’s saviour against China.

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