Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
India and China have an acrimonious relationship over the last 60 years. The major conflict was the Sino-India war of 1962, when the Chinese forces entered 100 kms inside Arunachal. Thereafter also, many clashes/violent skirmishes have occurred frequently, like the violent clashes at Pangongso Lake and the Galwan valley in 2020.
Triggered by the Chinese aggression, there was a massive movement to boycott Chinese products. Presently, Chinese products dominate many major sectors. In smartphones, Chinese products like Xiaomi, Vivo, Realme and Oppo dominate 72 percent of the Indian market. Chinese coverage is about 25 percent in the telecom sector, 45 percent in the smart TV market, 60 percent in the pharma sector, and 90 percent in the solar power sector. Major companies in India, like Paytm, Flipkart, BYJUs, Oyo and Zomato have major Chinese investments. Recently, India banned many Chinese applications like TikTok, Zoom and PUBG.
China has constantly disputed the legitimacy of the McMahon Line which demarcates the Sino-India border. China claims most parts of Arunachal as ‘southern Tibet’. To add salt to injury, in many parts of Arunachal, smartphones and laptops show the location as Chinese locations like Nyingchi and Medog, which are in the Tibetan region of China. The local weather is shown as the weather of Nyingchi in China. Many maps in the world show Kashmir, Ladakh and Arunachal outside India. A few international and national mails also address places in Arunachal as in China.
Even on Google Maps, there is a red line that runs along the foothills of Arunachal, indicating disputed territory. Most of these errors appear to be originated by Google. The irony is that the head of Google is an Indian, Sundar Pichai.
Then there is this issue about issuance of stapled visas to persons from Arunachal. Many officials, sportspersons and businessmen of Arunachal are issued stapled visas. Thereafter, the Indian government does not allow these persons to travel to China. Yours truly was also a victim of such an incident. Being part of an official 30-member defence delegation to visit China, China’s response was no visa requirement for me as I was from China! Subsequently, our government truncated the delegation and dropped 15 members, including me. The sad part was that the remaining 15 members went ahead with the visit.
Showing Pasighat as being located in Nyingchi in China is akin to a virtual takeover of places in Arunachal by China. The state and the central government should take up this sensitive matter with Google and China. Similarly, India should also start issuing stapled visas to persons of Tibet and Xinjiang in China.
Like the call by Ladakhi personality Sonam Wangchuk, who called for a gradual boycott of all Chinese products, Arunachal should implement a total ban on all Chinese products and applications. Any time we buy Chinese products, we are directly helping the Chinese. Since a physical war should be the last resort, as responsible Indians, the least we can do is implement a complete ban on Chinese products at a policy level. This may be the only way of hitting back at China. We should follow some Chanakya Niti to tackle the Chinese. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)