China: Hum Dekh Rahe Hain We Are Watching!
Commenting on the latest Chinese intrusion in Ladakh, Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid echoed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s famous cliché “Hum Dekh Rahen Hain, Hamen Dekhna Hoga, Hum Dekhenge”. Translated simply, it implies “we have been watching, we will have to watch, we will watch”. That in essence has been our foreign policy supported by an absent national security strategy kept in limbo and reinforced by an impotent defence industrial base ensured by AK Anthony as the longest serving Defence Minister. Whether the utterances of Salman Khursid were advertent or inadvertent is a matter of speculation though the former is most likely considering you can merrily twiddle your thumbs idly and keep the population guessing about the ‘Emperor’s Clothes”; do nothing, avoid accountability and in case of China, remain petrified behind a mask of bravery.
The next moves of the Chinaman should not be difficult to gauge considering previous patterns. The amused Chinese will watch briefly as our hierarchy will go for the so called ‘diplomatic offensive’ despite depraved evidence of similar diplomatic offensives against our much smaller neighbours. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has already said that there is no transgression, even as they can be expected to bring a dozer to the area of the pitched tent. Next, the Chinese will start constructing a road linking the area with the illegally occupied Aksai Chin while Sonia-Manmohan and Co will debate whether another Chow Mein shop in Ladakh would upset the stomachs of Indian voters or this can be laced by a digestive that Chinese have different perceptions of the LAC and the issue will be resolved ‘amicably’ when the border dispute is ‘eventually resolved’.
As in previous occasions, the Army Chief will be asked to give a statement to this effect, after which all connected reporting will be effectively blacked out. Flag meetings will continue and noodles and rosogollas savoured and shared. So what, if the Chinese set up shop selling biang-biang noodles in the tent until barrack(s) come up and defence works are constructed. That would just about sum up AK Antony’s recent statement, “India will take every step to protect its interests.” After all, the issue is to be resolved at the time of the eventual final settlement of the border dispute. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Salman Khurshid will be commended for amicably ‘resolving’ the dispute and this stupendous diplomatic dexterity (or shall we say ‘victory’) will be used as a plus point by the Congress to sell to the hapless voters who in any case would not know the ground situation and cannot visit the area. An enterprising reporter may well get a shock of his life were he to investigate if anything like this had happened in the past but then such an account can always be dismissed as ‘notional’ loss or brushed off as planted Opposition gibberish in view of forthcoming elections. That would just about sum up AK Antony’s recent statement, “India will take every step to protect its interests.”
Chinese occupation of Aksai Chin was a strategic move looking into future requirements of resources, as was her taking control of Shaksgam Valley in exchange of nuclear assistance to Pakistan and now strategic footprints into Gilgit-Baltistan region. For the same reason, China literally invested Myanmar and Nepal, claims Doklam Plateau in Bhutan and is practicing economic hegemony in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Africa, besides employing water as a weapon against India, blatantly ignoring water sharing norms.
In fact, against India it is no holds barred hostility : deep intrusionbehind the façade of border management under a peace and tranquility agreement; economic war through a grossly imbalanced bilateral trade; supporting and arming insurgencies within India; cyber attacks; lacing Chinese ‘string of peals’ with Islamic radicalism in conjunction Pakistan and Pakistan’s proxies (terrorist organizations) and the like. It may be recalled that China which was hitherto laying claims only to Tawang, suddenly staked its claim to entire Arunachal Pradesh despite Nehru sacrificing India’s UNSC seat in China’s favour and India supporting the ‘one China policy’ and having given China Tibet virtually on a plate.
Let us have no illusions that this is a routine transgression, which it is not. This is a deliberate intrusion that shows the real face of Xi Jinping and the shape of things to come. Flag meetings are meaningless. You don’t expect the Chinese Foreign Ministry to retract its statement that the PLA has not walked across the LAC. Differing perceptions of LAC is all fine but was the known difference in this particular region more than 10 kilometres apart? Isn’t this game plan part of the perpetually expanding claim lines of the Chinese over the years? Of course there should be little doubt that Xi Jinping is capitalizing on the infighting amongst political parties within India especially with approaching elections and impotency displayed despite some 600 border transgressions by China in the last three years accross the 4057 kilometres long LAC, some of them deeper than the past, as admitted by AK Anthony.
This is certainly not the first time Chinese irredentism and communist imperialism being different from the expansionism or imperialism of western powers and Chinese ideological expansion concealed behind racial, national or historical claims, as cautioned by Sardar Patel to Pandit Nehru in 1950, has manifested itself. This is a clear cut case of ‘grabbing’ Indian Territory. So whatever happened to Non Alignment 2.0 recommendation of ‘grab for grab’? Will our hierarchy remain petrified or show spine, as was shown during the 1967 Sino-Indian confrontation at Nathu La or later in 1986 at Sumdorong Chu where the Chinaman retreated in face of resolute action. Presenting a weak face will be foolish and would invite more intrusions. We don’t have to be scared of the PLA even as the unholy China-Pakistan nexus, including nuclear and asymmetric, has multiplied exponentially over the years, and with China getting more and more aggressive, the collusive China-Pakistan threat is acquiring dangerous dimensions with both countries following the policy of ambiguity, denial and deceit. If China does not listen to logic, what stops us from making a similar post as per ‘our perceptions’ of LAC or for that matter occupy Karakoram Pass till China withdraws this intrusion? Chinese ‘Pivot Asia’ includes Pakistan and North Korea, both of whom she made nuclear capable and backs continuously, resulting in the arrogance of these rogue states.
Within the framework of the US-India strategic partnership, India must go pro-active in building our strategic capabilities in addition to expanding our relationships with countries like Japan, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia especially since possibility of Russia-China confrontation on a future date is very much possible. We must speedily remove the asymmetry vis-à-vis our adversaries in fields of aerospace, cyber, electromagnetic domains and rapid aerial deployments. Simultaneously, we must develop publicized overt capabilities and deniable covert capabilities to counter China’s irregular war waged against us.
(Indian Defence Review)
By Lt Gen (Retd) Prakash Katoch