Blocking efforts at de-escalation of tension

China has unilaterally called off the Modi-Xi Jinping meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit at Hamburg (Germany). The excuse is that ‘the atmosphere is not right’ for talks. The intention obviously is to prolong and harden China’s face-off with India at Doko La in Sikkim, near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction. Perhaps this was to be expected after Beijing’s pressure tactics failed to make the Government of India budge from its principled stand that the land where the Chinese army was constructing or trying to construct a road is undoubtedly India’s and no unilateral demand backed up by troop mobilization can succeed in India acceding its territory to the Chinese. The Indian Prime Minister’s visits to the US and Israel and the huge defence contracts signed with both countries may have been the proverbial red rag to China.
While trying to de-escalate tension in the borders and defuse the tension, India must speak from a position of strength, not of weakness. In any possible armed conflict with India, China’s aim will be to occupy territory and extend its borders further into India. India’s aim, however, will not be to inflict a military defeat on China but to successfully hold on to its own territory. The armed forces of India should act in perfect concert to foil any Chinese attempt to occupy India’s or Bhutan’s territory. The Chinese may still have many things up their sleeves. Now, after so many years, Beijing says Sikkim is not a part of India and India has no right to speak on behalf of Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan kingdom to whose protection India is committed.
For the present India has to fight the battle on the diplomatic front and expose China’s expansionist and hegemonic ambitions. At the same time India should leave China in do doubt that if the push comes to shove, India will hold its ground.  The implication of building a road at Doko la is sinister. From this point a strong thrust will bring the Chinese right up to the so-called ‘Chicken’s Neck’ or the narrow corridor that connects the entire north-east with mainland India. China has already claimed the whole of Arunachal. Now it seems to be eyeing the entire north-eastern part of India and deliberately blocking efforts at de-escalation of tension. The face-off at Doko La is a calculated move on the part of China. India must be prepared for a long haul and look at the Chinese without blinking.

Sunday, 9 July, 2017