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.

Alive - - Contents - by Dr (Prof) Satish Ku­mar

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.

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