CHINA ON A ROAD TO WISDOM

PROFESSOR ALI SUKHANVER

 

The recent conflict between China and India in the Ladakh region of LAC has simply widened the already growing differences and increasing distances between the two countries. The situation remained very much tense and bitter for more than twenty days and the issue was resolved after intense negotiations during a flag meeting between Indian and Chinese commanders. The recent conflict started when fifty soldiers from China’s People’s Liberation Army crossed about 10 miles inside the disputed territory and set up a tented post. According to the DNA India, the Chinese soldiers subsequently put up four more tents and also deployed Molosser dogs. These fifty soldiers belonged to the Chinese Quick Response Force and they were directed to intrude the sector when the Chinese authorities got the news that the Indian troops were constructing fortifications in Chumar Sector which was vacated by the Chinese troops sometimes back after negotiations. India could not afford to prolong the confrontation, therefore, requested for flag meeting to resolve the issue. During this flag meeting China remained strict to its principled stance that no permanent structure would come up along LAC. As a result of this strictness to the stance, India was not only forced by China to remove freshly constructed fortifications but was also compelled to discontinue the round the clock patrolling it used to undertake in Chumar, Sector of Ladakh.

Commenting upon the recent Indo-China conflict in the Ladakh region, the world renowned analyst, Venky Vembu says in THE FIRST POST of 6th May, 2013, “In the official narrative from the Indian side, both the armies had agreed to withdraw to their previous positions. But then, as even the Defence Ministry of India had acknowledged, Chinese troops had entered 19 km inside Indian Territory, so the only thing that negotiated was their unconditional pullout.” The writer is very much true in his analysis regarding the situation but the term ‘unconditional’ used by him needs some clarifications. According to authentic reports published in various Indian and Western newspapers, the Chinese troops withdrew only after the conditions of removal of all fresh fortifications, halting patrolling by Indian troops in the area. It was also decided that in future India will not construct any fresh fortifications. Indian leadership and Army high command accepted all these conditions imposed by China but acceptance of these conditions had a deep demoralizing impact on the Indian troops. Professor Shrikanth Kondapalli of Jawaharlal Nehru University has commented upon the miserably pathetic defeat of India in the recent conflict with China in very impressive words. The Professor says, “The Chinese soldiers came at their own sweet timing and left almost as abruptly.”  The Professor dismissed the claims that the soldiers’ exit was the result of ‘clever Indian diplomacy’. “They were driving a lesson to India that India is talking too much without much actual strength. For China, the forever-fizzling talks to resolve the border dispute are just another tool to keep a potential rival off-balance,” says the Professor.

“China is aggressively conducting regular patrols to solidify its sovereignty claims in the South and East China seas and to furtively enlarge its footprint in the Himalayan borderlands,” writes Brahma Chellaney in the Economic Times of 28th April, 2013. The writer further says, “It is nothing but traditional Indian Lethargy that instead of regular Indian army troops patrolling the line of control, border police have been deployed. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel, with their defensive training and mindset, are no match to the aggressive designs of the People’s Liberation Army and thus continue to be outwitted by them. Even in response to the incursion, the government has sent ITBP and Ladakh Scouts, not regular army troops, to pitch tents at a safe distance from the intruders’ camp.”  The important point to be noted here is that these comments of Brahma Chellaney are about a country which is the homeland to such a deprived nation where most of the people live much below the poverty line and where the political leadership is unfortunately more focused to purchase military equipment and lethal weapons to make the militarily strong. Most of the Indian foreign policy experts are of the opinion that Beijing is trying to force New Delhi to concentrate on problems within its immediate neighborhood, rather than working to become a regional power.

India and China are having a very unfriendly type of relationship since very beginning. The nature of this relationship became more hostile somewhere in 1950s when the People’s Republic of China started construction of a 1,200 km long road which connected Xinjiang and western Tibet. 179 kilometers of this road ran to the south of the Johnson Line through the Aksai Chin region which was claimed by India. Unluckily the Indians could not learn of the construction of this road until the road was shown in Chinese maps published in 1958. The construction of this road gave birth to a series of never-ending mistrust and suspicions between India and China. Now the recent conflict in the Ladakh region has proved another nail in the coffin of Indo-China relations. The strict reaction of the Chinese hi-ups in this situation has proved that India is a country which understands only the language of force and those who think that matters with India could be settled through gentle negotiations are simply living in the fools’ paradise.

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