By Dr. D. K. Giri
(Prof, International Politics, JMI)
Note the news that authorities in north-eastern China destroyed about 30,000 world maps showing Arunachal Pradesh as a part of India, and Taiwan as a separate country. A cartography company in the Chinese province of Anuhi had printed these maps to be exported to other countries which may have ordered the print. China has done this in order to protect the territorial integrity of China.
Beijing claims Arunachal Pradesh to be part of South Tibetan Autonomous Region, and Taiwan a break-away province of China to be eventually united with China. The Chinese authorities have investigated 100 times and destroyed over 10,000 maps “incorrectly depicting the Chinese geography”, claimed the officials from the Chinese Government.
How does Government of India react to this? Is it lodging a complaint that China is making fantastic and illegitimate claims and taking ridiculous actions to deliberately create a controversy? Or is it going to ignore the incident as internal matter of China? Interestingly, so far, there has been no official reaction to this shameful act of China.
Does New Delhi forget that Beijing objects to people visiting Arunachal Pradesh, including the Indian prime Minister? It gives stapled visas to people from Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. How can then New Delhi not react to such an incident involving an outrageous claim. New Delhi’s current engagement and obsession with Pakistan blinds it to Chinese challenge. Is not India focusing on a wrong target like Pakistan, whereas our main threat is China? No wonder the BJP President Amit Shah is asking for votes for a Prime Minister who can respond to Pakistan’s challenge; but not a word on China. Clearly, the present Government does not perceive China as a threat, or it is incapable of tackling China diplomatically and otherwise.
Presumably, India’s dealing with China seems to be driven by gross misperceptions on Chinese state and its external relations. In this column last week, I wrote about how Nehru’s Sinophilia cost us heavily. The echoes of that historic blunder are heard even today. One had thought the BJP Government that cries hoarse about anything the Nehru-Gandhi family has done, is unable to correct the fault lines on China. And worse, even ‘hard-nosed’ Narendra Modi is pulled into complacence by Chinese.
Having fumbled initially, the United States and European countries have recognized China as the main threat to the free world. They are assisting those countries caught in territorial conflict with China – Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Mongolia, and others. In fact, China is perhaps the only country in the world that is making territorial claims on other countries. But India has still not woken up to the reality on China. If New Delhi is wary of China’s India strategy one may ask what India’s strategy to deal with China is. Sadly, there is not one in sight. For the present Government, it is Pakistan, which is the only threat to India’s peace and security.
India has incurred life-long wrath of Chinese by giving asylum to Dalai Lama. A virtual Tibetan Government runs from India. Is China not aware of this? Or New Delhi, while treating Tibetans in India as humanitarian gesture, expects normal friendly relations with China. Why does not New Delhi move beyond humanitarianism, claims Tibet back from Chinese and restore its independence?
Let us recall that the British had maintained Tibet as buffer state between India and China. Jawaharlal Nehru gave away Tibet to Chinese without any reciprocal obligations. Mind you, along with Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh is being claimed by China. Second, Taiwan was given the Security Council membership, which was then offered to India. Nehru not only rejected the offer, but pleaded that it should be given to China. It is time to correct those mistakes, join other countries in declaring Taiwan’s sovereignty and restoration of Tibetan independence. Should New Delhi not begin to issue stapled visa to people from Chinese occupied Tibet?
Third, the Chinese imperial project of OBOR, is passing through PoK, close to the Indian borders. Should India not tell the Chinese that PoK is disputed territory, a part of Jammu & Kashmir, that had joined India through the Treaty of Accession, signed by the then King and the Kashmir Assembly. Pakistan has been occupying it by force and illegally, and China should back off. New Delhi should note that European Union is considering vetoing Italy’s intent to participate in OBOR project. Also, that the United States has raised objection to Americans not being allowed to visit autonomous region of Tibet. How does India not see the Chinese game plan?
It is true that India cannot match Chinese economic and military might. It is also true that Russia leans on China to counter USA. Given the Russian economic situation, it will gravitate further towards China. Similarly, India needs to lean on the United States to checkmate the Chinese. India has no other option. New Delhi’s attempt to mollify Russians by buying S-400s from them, even in the face of US sanctions, is shooting in the dark, not a smart move.
The present Government’s Pakistan obsession and non-innovative approach to Kashmir are compounding the confusion. The Government’s failure or refusal to see the principal player in aggravating India’s woes is China, tacitly backed by Russia. New Delhi also fails to see the other protective tent provided by the United States vis-a-vis China is decidedly an economic power, not yet a political power, or not as mighty a military power as USA. So it has used its economic might to weigh in on its international relations. As a trading power, China is ever so hungry for markets. India is growing to be the biggest market in the world. Is New Delhi even mildly threatening to ban Chinese exports? That should hurt China. Again, US is imposing tariffs on Chinese exports. Can India not do the same? It has done so with Pakistan.
Let us remember that Chinese follow Sun Tzu’s ‘the art of war’. According to Chapter 4, in the Book, it teaches how to create and recognize strategic opportunities and deny opportunities to the opponent. Secondly, create a war-like situation without actually engaging and give the opponent a fait accompli. By raking up non-issues like Arunachal Pradesh, Beijing seeks to legitimize its claim. Maybe, Beijing is also following the formulae of Goebbels truth, a lie often repeated becomes true.
Ironically, many of India’s China experts are Chinese supporters too. How many scholars Government is supporting to study China, its strategy, attitude and behavior? The Government tends to rely on the expertise of its bureaucrats, which is limited and stale. They are not capable of ‘out of box’ thinking. It is the diplomats who led Modi to have that unscheduled agenda-less meeting with Xi-Jinping, which I call stroll-and-swing diplomacy as both leaders romantically strolled around a lake, swung merrily in a park. What did we achieve, except showing that we are genuflecting before the Chinese?
It is time we stop being delusional on Chinese; make an accurate assessment of our comparative strengths and weaknesses, and treat it as our principal target, draw the battle lines, make necessary alliances and rebut every false claim it makes. In our minds, we must decide that it is all-out diplomatic slugfest with China. We will have to up our game to build our economy, reduce our spending on military, by making strategic alliances that will cover our security. Beware China, India comes calling.—INFA