China’s Menacing March Everywhere


Yatindra Bhatnagar 

Gone are the days when friendship based on principles of co-existence and live-and-let-live ideals were followed, respected and admired. They made the world comparatively safer, peaceful and cooperative.

That doesn’t mean there were no wars, no conflicts, and no armed confrontations. They were many. However, now it has become a popular policy and one of the biggest modern-day powerhouses, China, has been systematically pursuing and spreading it at will. China has done in areas from North-east India, Pakistan, and South China Sea to the Far East, to South Asia, to Africa and Latin America also.

China is expanding its influence and getting a foothold even in the Arctic region that is thousands of miles away from its borders. There are ways to do it and China has mastered the art of doing it with money, muscle, and maneuvering, make-belief machination, and menacingly manipulating minor nations, and so on. Their mischievous misinterpretation of age-old maps for insolent incursion is legendary. India, Vietnam, Jammu & Kashmir and other areas are witnesses and victims of the Chinese methods of masterminding plans for claiming and influencing vast areas.  

Given its military and economic power – gained at the expense of others’ self-serving narrow interests or sheer stupidity of not realizing the folly of their actions to aid, do business with and pass or sell technology to China. After all, the Chinese have masterfully managed their resources, efficiently exploited their cheap labor, and convinced countries of buying Chinese goods and letting China buy theirs in return. It’s said that China ‘owns’ half the world. And China’s power is expanding.

Coming to India-China relations they have always been confusing since many decades. Since China grabbed thousands of square miles of Indian land in the North-east and the West, and still claiming more, the relations have been at best of an uncertain, undefined unfriendly neighborhood but also coupled with expanding economic relations. That is more confusing and doesn’t match with the recent incursion, threatening media reports and Chinese ‘think tank’ statements and official near-silence on the subject. This uncertainly keeps on hovering despite Indian and Chinese leaders meeting frequently in various international venues for broader discussions on a variety of international issues of cooperation.

The recent reports of regular incursion of Chinese troops inside Indian borders in the North-east continue to be disturbing. While the Chinese media has been in an aggressive mood about a conflict, a limited war and teaching India a lesson, reminding New Delhi of 1962 (when China attacked and did huge land-grabbing), the Indian side had been adopting a subdued and diplomatic policy.

The latest reports say that despite all that mysterious movements on the border, China’s defense ministry does not favor a ‘short war’ as threatened by its media and other ‘think tank.’ The ministry has distanced itself from those opinions.

Does that mean they want a ‘full scale war?’

We hope not. That would be disastrous for both and also for the entire region.

The focal point of the new dispute is the area called Doklam on the Sikkim border that has been going on for more than 50 days. China wants Indian troops to withdraw from that area as they claim it for China. China has started building a road in the area also claimed by Bhutan. Indian troops intervened as they are there to support the Bhutanese. In addition, India doesn’t want China to have additional military advantage because of the new road. 

The possibility of an armed conflict doesn’t seem imminent as one senior Chinese official also conceded that there is a "very mature and stable border exchange mechanism between China and India".

In other areas China is going steadily with the plan to make ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ which India has not endorsed because New Delhi strongly feels it is in violation of Indian claims over the area that is a part of Jammu & Kashmir in illegal occupation of Pakistan (a portion of which Pakistan has already ceded to China). India has solid and strong stand on the issue.

In the midst of all this Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi meeting the Chinese envoy in New Delhi, Aug. 3, has also raised controversy in Indian political circles. Earlier, Congress denied but later admitted that Rahul had met the Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui. It was ill-timed and quite unnecessary looking at the tense situation and uncertain outcome. 

India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj blasted Rahul for meeting Luo at the time of the Doklam border standoff.  She said it demonstrated a failure to consider the situation from the Indian government’s perspective. "I was very saddened that the opposition, instead of considering the point of view of the Indian government, went and met the Chinese Ambassador to get their point of view," she added.

Rahul defended his meeting saying it was his job to stay informed on critical issues. He had also met the Bhutanese envoy and former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, among other officials. However, given the sensitive nature of the border situation Rahul should have avoided the meeting, and who knows exactly what it was for and what actually transpired.

Can this be one of Rahul Gandhi’s many immature and untimely steps?

Time will tell.