In­dia’s move car­ries dan­ger­ous over­tones

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS -

In mid-June, In­dian troops crossed into China at the Sikkim sec­tion of the bor­der, in­sti­gat­ing a stand­off with Chi­nese troops. This is ar­guably the big­gest cri­sis facing the two coun­tries since the 1962 bor­der war, be­cause there is still no sign of the In­dian troops end­ing their tres­pass into Chi­nese ter­ri­tory.

The Sikkim sec­tion of the China-In­dia bound­ary was de­lim­ited in 1890 in the Con­ven­tion Be­tween Great Bri­tain and China Re­lat­ing to Sikkim and Ti­bet, and the bound­ary de­mar­ca­tion is rec­og­nized by both China and In­dia.

How­ever, In­dia claims that a road be­ing con­structed by Chi­nese troops in Chi­nese ter­ri­tory has “se­ri­ous” se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions for In­dia. It fears it will lead to the sev­er­ing of the so-called chicken’s neck — the 20-kilo­me­ter-wide cor­ri­dor that links the In­dian main­land to its north­east­ern states. As a re­sult, New Delhi de­cided to make a“pre­emp­tive” move.

Know­ing the Chi­nese bor­der troops will re­frain from “fir­ing the first bul­let”, In­dian sol­diers have time and again em­ployed such shady tricks in dis­puted ar­eas. But this time, New Delhi has sent troops into China’s Donglang area, which is not dis­puted, and which is nowhere near the tri­lat­eral junc­tion that sep­a­rates China, In­dia and Bhutan. In­dia be­lieves that Bei­jing would com­pro­mise due to the up­com­ing ninth BRICS Sum­mit in Xi­a­men, Fu­jian prov­ince. And be­cause of this mis­per­cep­tion, New Delhi has been em­bold­ened to “dig in”.

In­dia’s bor­der provo­ca­tion con­sti­tutes a di­plo­matic and mil­i­tary chal­lenge to China and, to some ex­tent, car­ries strate­gic im­pli­ca­tions for it. With its troops tres- pass­ing in Chi­nese ter­ri­tory, New Delhi has taken a dan­ger­ous step by in­cit­ing con­fronta­tion. So far, China has ex­er­cised re­straint, but its pa­tience will not last for­ever.

China has re­peat­edly stated that it will de­fend its core in­ter­ests, which in­clude its ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity. China does not have any strate­gic am­bi­tion to ma­nip­u­late South Asian or In­dochi­nese Penin­sula af­fairs, but that does not mean it will al­low its own ter­ri­tory to be en­croached upon.

China seeks to han­dle bor­der is­sues in line with in­ter­na­tional laws and doc­u­mented ev­i­dence, but it does not fear a clash on its bor­ders with a neigh­bor, if that is what is nec­es­sary to de­fend its ter­ri­tory. It has abun­dant re­sources to keep the risks con­trol­lable should a show­down oc­cur. China can now force il­le­gal in­trud­ers back across the bor­der more eas­ily than it did dur­ing the 1962 bor­der war.

While con­tin­u­ing to be en­gaged in di­plo­matic ef­forts to per­suade In­dia to with­draw its troops from Chi­nese ter­ri­tory, China should be pre­pared for mil­i­tary ac­tion should that prove to be its only re­course. As China has re­peat­edly em­pha­sized, al­though the di­plo­matic chan­nels are unim­peded, the with­drawal of the In­dian bor­der troops who have il­le­gally crossed into China’s ter­ri­tory is the pre­req­ui­site for any mean­ing­ful di­a­logue be­tween the two sides.

Al­though the cri­sis is fun­da­men­tally an out­come of In­dia’s per­cep­tion of its geopo­lit­i­cal role and wor­ries about the rise of China, play­ing up the idea of an all­out geopo­lit­i­cal clash be­tween the two coun­tries is un­called for. Af­ter all, China and In­dia are close neigh­bors and a healthy bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship meets the need of both for a fa­vor­able en­vi­ron­ment for de­vel­op­ment.

The two coun­tries should seek to rec­on­cile their bor­der is­sues and jointly strive to main­tain re­gional sta­bil­ity.

Play­ing up the idea of an all-out geopo­lit­i­cal clash be­tween the two coun­tries is un­called for.

The au­thor is a se­nior re­searcher at the Pan­goal In­sti­tu­tion, a Bei­jing-based think tank.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.