Bharat is not scared of Chinese threat
Modern India is bolder, more confident and powerful and in no condition ready to stoop before the pressure tactics.
Recently, China bluntly threatened Bharat for its action in tri-junction, located near Bhutan-China border. China accused Bharat for its offensive posturing in the Chinese territory, called it Doklam. The face-off between two countries started on the issue of road construction on the borders of a 269-sq km plateau in Bhutan.
China said the construction of border road was legitimate. It was being built on Chinese territory that does not belong to Bharat or Bhutan. According to the foreign ministry of China, Bharat crossed the boundary on the Sikkim side into Chinese territory.
This is a blatant lie. Indian troops have been always there at Bhutan border due to many reasons. Obviously one of the reasons is to navigate Chinese incursions in the eastern sectors. China has made the withdrawal of Indian troops a precondition for dialogue. This is completely unacceptable to India.
In fact, Bhutan has made it clear to China that by construction of road China has violated 1998 agreement. Both signed an agreement in 1998 to maintain peace and status quo along the China-Bhutan border.
There is a strategic implications and value of the region. Doka La is at the trijunction of Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet and is strategically important for India as the crucial Siliguri corridor, known as ‘Chicken’s Neck’, is merely 50 km from there. This neck is lifeline between the rest of India and northeastern states.
If the Chinese were to gain possession of the Doklam plateau, in the event of hostilities it would have the ability to essentially “cut off” india’s land access to 40 million citizens in its northeast territories.
A strategic expert said, “The Doklam Plateau lies immediately east of Indian
defences in Sikkim. Chinese occupation of Doklam would turn the flank of Indian defences completely. This piece of dominating ground not only has a commanding view of the Chumbi Valley but also overlooks the Siliguri corridor further to the east”.
It is not surprising that China has accused India. There are many reasons. First is Prime Minister Modi’s visit to America. The trail of Indo-US meeting after the end of Cold War triggered unexpected depression in China which sparks off tensions between the two countries.
It could be seen after the nuclear tests in 1998 followed by the then US President Bill Clinton’s visit to India. The reason is Tibet. The complete mapping and designing of China has emerged from Tibet issue.
It was America which dropped Tibetan (Khampas) rebels in 50s and 60s in the Chinese mainland. The rebel’s momentum did not last long. The huge distance from US to Tibet killed the spirit. China is aware of India’s proximity and its reach out.
Its military and para military forces are deployed in the bordering areas. Therefore, India-US joint venture could trigger a major strategic loss to China. Having anticipated this risk, China is very sceptical and apprehensive of India-America friendship.
Second, PM Modi has changed the
trajectory of Indian foreign policy. India under Nehru and subsequently under various regimes lost its hold in the Himalayan belt. One after another, Himalayan countries came under the pressure of China.
China has been trying to tilt the hold of India in Nepal and Bhutan. PM Modi is aware of the China’s ambitious grand strategy of a Greater China. That is why he started his diplomatic itinerary after becoming PM from Bhutan and Nepal.
That sent a message to China. India of 2017 is not confused or ideologically tilted with preconceived notions. The Chinese President has well understood the foreign policy of PM Modi. Unlike the previous government, the defence and foreign ministries are not speaking in different texts and tone.
Third, China has been trying a package deal with Bhutan for resolving the boundary disputes. Beijing has resolved its boundary issues with all the neighbouring countries including Russia except India and Bhutan. China made a pressing issue in 1996 and 2012 to lure Bhutan for a swapping deal.
Between China and Bhutan there are three territorial areas of dispute. The Jakarlung and Pasamlung valleys are located in the Bhutan-Chinese north-central border. It has an area of almost 491 km. There is another area of Chinese interest which situated on eastern part, in close proximity with Tibet. It is almost half of the areas of north-central part.
It is well known to the world that China has been building chains of highways and railways connecting BeijingLasha. It wants to move inside Bhutan. China and Bhutan did not have diplomatic terms. China wanted to secure its security from eastern sector which trijunction between the three countries.
China’s thesis is that Bhutanese, Sikkimese and Ladhakis form a united family in Tibet. They were subject to Tibet and to the great motherland of China. In fact, in 1966 Tibetan nomads entered the pastures of the Doklam plateau and tried to occupy the territory. The US intervention pressured China to backtrack from the region.
There was another attempt made by China in 1988 when the PLA crossed into Bhutan and took control of the Chumbi Valley, below the Doklam plateau. Bhutan’s border issues with China are directly related with IndiaChina border. Therefore, the border
issue is inter-connected and it has spilling effects on the third country.
Almost 470 kilo metre long border between Tibet and Bhutan could be properly understood in context of Sino-India border issue. The history of Bhutan proves that it has been clogged with Bharat like umbilical cord. Still Bhutan economy and defence is run through the help of Bharat. Chinese forces had dismantled several nearby unmanned posts in Bhutan.
The tri-junctions between Bhutan, India and China in the Siliguri corridor connect northeast India to the rest of India, and Nepal to Bhutan and shares borders with Tibet and Sikkim. Bhutan’s western border is close to Nathu La, the frontier port between China and India; the eastern border is connected to the disputed area of China and India; the narrow passage which connects the south-west and north-east areas, is not far from Bangladesh.
China’s economic trade with Bhutan is very marginal. China and Bhutan are bordered with high-altitude Himalayan Mountains which have no transportation facility. Thus, large scale trade activities cannot be supported and Bhutan can hardly become a strategic path. The Zhagmu Port is border area of China and Nepal will remain the main station to connect the South Asian area through Tibet.
There is considerable recent evidence of China’s growing presence in South Asia. China signed a series of bilateral treaties with Nepal. China is trying the same favour from Bhutan. China weaved to establish fullfledged diplomatic relations with Bhutan in 2012.
India took the notice of the wave in Bhutan and struck hard to undo it. China has been watching the strategy of the current Indian Prime Minister.
It has to be understood that Tibet is the lynchpin of all this debate. India’s woes spill over with the acceptance of Tibet as an integral part of China. Repeatedly subsequent Indian governments have accepted this fact under ‘One China’ policy; Tibet is a part of China. Therefore Chinese claims in eastern and western sectors sprung from the same thesis.
China’s used documented history of Tibetan Lamas which were very powerful in 12th to 16th centuries in which they ruled certain parts of mainland China and adjoining areas of Himalayan territories. Since Tibet is part of China, therefore, documented history proved that parts of north-eastern states of India, Bhutan and Ladakh are also parts of China.
Now the next tough stand of India should be to denounce the often repeated theory of Tibet being part of China. If China could violate its accepted terms and conditions signed with India, why should India respect the Chinese stand.
That will not be very easy to jump from one track to another, keeping in even with rising China and India’s largest trade partner.
But change has begun by Indian PM. The strategic culture and ‘Make in India’ move fall in the same line. IndiaUS friendship will keep China at bay and, at the same time, controlled.
Modi is not Nehru it has been reflected through his actions and interactions.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh with soldiers on the frontier.