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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Beijing's Audacity and India's Policies

September 2, 2010

By Bhaskar Roy
Eurasia Review
September 1, 2010

China’s refusal to give a visa to Lt. Gen.
B.S.Jaswal should not surprise anybody including
those among the Indian establishment and
political leadership dealing with China. China
has been allowed to deceive and ride roughshod
over India these decades following its attack in 1962.

What surprised watchers of India-China relations
in the Indian establishments was the correct
response to China’s action by not only cancelling
the Indian army delegation’s tour of China, but
also suspending all military-to-military contacts
with China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) till further notice.

This is the first most definitive action on the
part of New Delhi since the withdrawal of
ambassadors following the 1962 war. Such action
by sovereign states who are attacked by
non-military means but diplomatic snub with
strategic aims, are not new. US-Chinese relations
are replete with such incidents. The issue is the
timing of these discords and how they are
resolved. In relations with the USA, China has
always sought a face saving way out and,
Washington being the stronger of the two, has usually condescended.

US China relations and India’s China relations
are not comparable, especially in terms of scale.
But in India-China relations lie the critical
issues of peace, development and stability not
only in the South Asian region, but also in
greater Asia including the Indian Ocean Sea lanes
which are vital for the countries east of the Malacca strait.

The main question is how will India deal with the
military diplomacy face off hence forth. There
are signs that China is trying to make it a
non-issue in its usual deceptive manner. The
Chinese, habituated with India’s lukewarm
reaction or non-action in the past, may have
miscalculated New Delhi’s response to the refusal of visa to Lt.Gen. Jaswal.

At the same time, it appears the Indian
establishment did not want to blow up the
incident. There has been little comment from the
establishment, and Defence Minister A. K.
Antony’s brief observation to television channels
suggests they are going to sweep the issue as
usual under the carpet. It is India’s
free  media  which
is  increasingly  playing  the  real  role  of
the  fourth estate, that has brought the issue to
public notice. If the Indian government tries to
brush aside this incident, then not only the
government but also the people, would have to pay dearly for this omission.

It is time to face some questions squarely. The
Indian establishment including the army,
demoralized by the 1962 reverses and the more
recent Chinese economic and military development
surge, appears to have adopted a defeatist
complex, contrary to the assessment of
independent Indian experts and analysts. Of
course, some independent China experts who
receive regular invitations from China and enjoy
their hospitality, try to devise reasons on
behalf of Beijing’s policies.  Otherwise, those
invitations will dry up. Equally important, there
are political parties and leaders who indulge in
America bashing, who are active votaries of China in the Indian context.

Chinese military strategists who provide inputs
for the PLA's strategic and tactical plans do not
think that the 1962 situation entails today.
Apart from their advantage in strategic nuclear
warfare, they do not see that the PLA as a whole
holds any significant advantage over the Indian
forces. In fact, in some ways, they recognize
certain drawbacks. The PLA is not battle tested.
The last limited war they fought was in 1979 when
Chinese forces entered Vietnam to teach them a
lesson, but instead suffered a bloody nose.

The Indian establishment’s strategic planners
must, first of all, revisit 1962 and compare the
state of Indian and Chinese soldiers. The Indian
soldiers did not even have the minimum winter
clothing, and arms. Whereas, the Chinese soldiers
were well prepared in every manner, suggesting
the attack was well planned in advance. The
Chinese army withdrew, especially from the
Eastern Sector, because they found themselves
overstretched and unable to hold on to territory.

The Chinese sabre-rattling in the Eastern Sector
in 1987 land threatening to teach India (a)
lesson must also be reexamined. When the Indian
army started moving to the sector from the
mainland, the Chinese sued for friendship and
political solution to the boundary issue. The
fact is, that the Chinese saw if they opened a
military front in the Eastern Sector, 1962 would be reversed.

In 1993, two PLA Colonels wrote a book "The Next
India-China War II, in which they stated that the
next war will be three-dimensional-land, air and
sea. Thereafter, China started building
infrastructure along the border with India at a
hectic pace. Today they have built military
airports along the border, brought the railway to
the Tibetan capital Lhasa, and are getting
prepared for a round the year air force presence with similar logistic support.

The Indian army lagged well behind in building
infrastructure along India’s borders with Tibet.
There was no lack of finances. But the army’s
view was that if India built the roads, the
Chinese would use them to roll into India!
Appalling to say the least. Why cannot they think
that they can also roll into China? It was a
psychological auto-suggestion of fear.

Finally, when it was decided to place two
Divisions in Arunachal Pradesh along with SU-29
fighters, and preparation for a strike corps, the
Chinese criticism engineered a doubt in parts of
the establishment. Thankfully, there has been no
retraction of this policy of deployment.

Does the Indian establishment become a
hypochondriac when faced with China? Nothing else
explains why India stands up to the USA and others, but not to Beijing.

Nothing can be more nonsensical than the coinage
"CHINDIA." The expression suggests an enmeshing
of China’s and India’s interests seamlessly.
Contemporary history of accounts, suggests this
is farthest from the truth. Indian political
leaders must understand personal promotion
against national interests. A former petroleum
minister pushed India-China joint action to
secure energy resources. He was jolted when the
Chinese upstaged him through the backdoor for a stake in Kazakhstan.

The current mantra is the $60 billion trade with
China, co-operation in climate change,
co-operation in international fora like WTO and
the G-8, and the old 1992 understanding to
counter the West on human rights charges. A close
look at each will classify that it is China that
is the beneficiary, not India. In the area of
trade China benefits from iron are imports, and
pushing substandard goods into India. In climate
there  is  no  comparison  with  China  being the
second highest polluter in the world, with India
way behind. On human rights issues China’s
excesses with the law being dictated by the party
does not compare with India’s legal system that
the charged is innocent unless proved guilty.
China’s persecution of minority rights is
legendary.  Is this the CHINDIA or Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai we are looking for?

On the other hand, the demands of friendship
should not go too far. For example, espionage is
a game played by all countries, small or big. If
China breaks into Indian government sites, this
is to be expected. It is for India to put up a
secure barrier, and engage in similar action
against China. For example, the US and lsrael,
the closest of allies, spy on each other. Similar
is the situation between China and Pakistan, time tested allies.

Having said the foregoing, the soul of India’s
relations with China lies in China’s decades old
strategy to keep India caged in South Asia by
various means, and to keep India insecure. This
emanates from Mao Zedong’s strategy which saw
India as the main obstruction to communist
China’s uni polar domination of Asia.

China’s arming of Pakistan including with nuclear
arms, support to Islamabad in the international
fora, encirclement of India in South Asia using
Pakistan as the pivot and preying on the
misplaced insecurity of other neighbours of
India, is well known and needs no elaboration.

What is important is China’s false stepping India
in India’s strategic civil development. It
opposed the India-US civil nuclear deal, India’s
clearance by the Nuclear Suppliers Groups (NSG),
and is now pushing for new China-Pakistan nuclear
co-operation, contravening the NSG guidelines.
China is a member of the NSG, and could destroy
this non-proliferation body by just one stroke.
But the Beijing leaders feel they can push this
through and other members will finally fall in line.

One of the reasons why China may be able to push
through its nuclear deal with Pakistan is the
fact that Pakistan is the biggest terrorism
nuisance in the world and China enjoys huge influence on Pakistan.

Questions have been raised in the Indian media
about why Lt.Gen. Jaswal, when he was the Corps
Commander in charge of Arunachal Pradesh, was
given a visa by the Chinese, and why Army Chief
V.K.Singh as Eastern Command Chief was also accorded similar courtesy.

The answer rests in the international and
domestic situation China was facing at that time,
and weak Indian response to China giving stapled
visas to Indians from J&K. China first tests the
ground. The other parameters assess foreign
pressures, the need to seek friends or supporters, and internal issues.

Another critical aspect is the PLA’s power and
influence in shaping foreign policy. The PLA
always had a major say in territorial disputes
including the issue of Taiwan, and relations with
the US, Japan, Pakistan and India. Over the past
one year the PLA has been demonstrating its power
both internally and externally, notwithstanding
the fact that the communist party is supreme.
Today, the party-PLA relations are not the same
as it used be in the pre-1988 period.

The Lt. Gen. Jaswal case is intrinsic to the
party’s and PLA’s shifting position on Pakistan
and India. The reason given by China that Lt.Gen.
Jaswal was the Commander in J&K, which China
considers disputed territory, is facetious. If
China wants to keep its hands off this disputed
territory, then they have no locus standi to
enter into an agreement with Pakistan in 1963 in
which Pakistan ceded 5000 sq.kms of Kashmiri
territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) to
China. The Karakoram highway should not have been
constructed through this territory as per China’s
“disputed area” policy. Nor should they be
constructing new infrastructure in this area. It
is now reported China has positioned 11,000
soldiers in the Gilgit-Baltistan area of POK.

The Indian authorities must consider the
following upcoming developments very seriously.
The Jaswal incident is clearly to renew support
to Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir issue, to
return to the UN resolutions. It has very little
to do with Pakistan being in a weak position,
suffering from devastating floods.

The crux of this Chinese move is much larger. It
is a Pak-China strategy to convert the Kashmir
issue into a India-Pak-China issue, making China
a stakeholder in the Kashmir issue. China’s de
facto position has been that POK is Pakistan’s
possession as revealed in the 1963 treaty, and it
can be renegotiated when a final de jure position
comes into force. The strategy is to ensure that
such a situation does not come about. But they
treat Indian Kashmir as a disputed territory
which China does not want to touch. There can be
no clearer indication that China may be in the
process of recognizing POK as Pakistan’s defacto sovereign territory.

It is time the Indian government took a hard look
at the three agreements signed with China in an
effort to resolve the border issue, and how they
have worked. The first was the Peace and
Tranquility (P&T) treaty of 1993 signed
in  Beijing, the second was the Confidence
Building Measures (CBM) agreement of 1996 signed
in New Delhi; and the third for the modalities to
resolve the boundary issues signed again in New Delhi in 2005.

The P&T treaty removed the eyeball to eyeball
situation between Indian and Chinese soldiers at
some points in the Eastern Sector of the border.
The CBM treaty was to ensure safe distance
between the troops of the two sides and prevent
any untoward incident. The modalities agreement
stands still as the Chinese now insist that the
article saying no transfer of settled population
be removed.  This treaty, therefore, remains as a "living dead."

During the period that China signed these
agreements when it was under pressure from the
West especially the USA, following the 1989
quelling of students’ protests in Beijing. China
also sought a stable and peaceful atmosphere for
them to concentrate on economic development.

Looking back, China has achieved its objective
and the agreements remain on paper only. As China
grew stronger, both the P&T and CBM agreements
have been violated by Beijing repeatedly and with
impunity, while the Indian government brushed it under the carpet.

There is the issue of the length of the
Sino-Indian border. The Indian position remains
that it is around 4000 kms long starting from the
north-western tip of Kashmir in POK, to the
eastern tip of Arunachal Pradesh and the Sikkim border in the middle.

The Chinese quietly hold that the border is
between 1900-2000 kms negating Indian’s
sovereignty over the whole of the J&K state,
Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Sooner rather than
later the Chinese would be raising this position
loudly in bilateral meetings, and their official propaganda.

Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee made a major mistake
by agreeing in writing that Tibet Autonomous
Region was an integral part of China. The
expected Chinese reciprocal position on Sikkim as
a sovereign state of India, never came.

New Delhi must keep aside agreements and Chinese
verbal promises, and return to the drawing board.
China has attacked Indian core interests of
territorial sovereignty, and no one can blame
India if it revived the Tibet issue. Kashmir had
acceded to India voluntarily through an
instrument. An independent Tibet was invaded by
Chinese forces in 1951. There is also the Taiwan
question and issue of the Spratly islands in the
South China Sea. India has followed the "One
China" policy strictly, and has kept away totally
from other Chinese territorial issues and claims.
But by sending soldiers to the Gilgit-Baltistan
region in POK, China has violated a cardinal
principle of trying to split India.

The curtain is up on China’s "denial and
deception" strategy. New Delhi will have to
consider China’s threat from all strategic directions.

* The author is an eminent China analyst with
many years of experience. He can be reached at
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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