Taming The Dragon
The Chinese adventure on the border entailing loss of life of considerable number of our soldiers has no doubt undone decades of painstakingly negotiated confidence-building mechanisms. The fact that they had no qualms in precipitating the crisis so soon after Mamallapuram summit between India and China indicates that they may be playing for a higher stake, which, one hopes, our intelligence will take care of. They seem to be taking advantage of the pandemic situation, which in our country keeps spiralling when it stands subdued in China now. In the circumstances, I doubt if China will climb down at least in the near future to act up to restoration of status quo ante. Talks with Beijing at this point will not mean more than empty words. Hence, India may have to very seriously consider a limited swift military offensive against the Chinese to push them back to pre-April 2020 positions along the LAC in Ladakh. This will be a good opportunity for India to erase the so-called 1962 stigma. The chances of success can be quite high given the terrain advantage enjoyed by India, an experienced and battle hardened Indian army. A successful operation is certain to raise India’s stature in the world stage as the only other power capable of standing up to the Chinese. However, the planned operation has got to be well-planned, swift and decisive. In this perspective, it is noteworthy that the greatest weapon India has, which China does not, is democracy and the transparency that it entails. India should use it to her advantage to tame China the bully. With the entire political class behind it, the GoI should reveal to Indians and the world as to what happened to expose China’s lies/propaganda and the brutality of its military. India should not worry about vitiating the atmosphere for dialogue since China and its military have shown that they don’t care. Repaying it in its own coin will get India attention, not scorn.
The border maps do not have just one boundary, in fact there are five boundaries. The McMahon Line was prepared by and named after the first British Surveyor General of India, The Tibetan Boundary Map is according to documents left by the British army, The 1962 Indo-Chinese Dispute Line has been the bone of contention for years. In short, there are two lines, the Indian Claim Line and the Chinese Claim Line. The cockiness of the Chinese is just best seen by the episodes of the stapled visas. Even today they refuse that any intrusion has happened. They come to the areas they claim as theirs. Having built a formidable network of infrastructure on the border, it had modernised its military in the past, even as India had failed to streamline its defence procurement systems, and wallowed in defence scams. Even if the then Indian political class had contemplated taking tough measures of getting Chinese troops out of Indian territory, the fear that Indian Army would fail was enough to keep them glued to their seats. But now there is a different government under the stewardship of Narendra Modi. And its decisions are causing consternation to the Chinese dispensation. Against this backdrop, it is a no-brainer that the reason behind Chinese aggression is that it wants to hamper and stall the construction of the winding 255 km Darbuk-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldie Road, which will allow the Indian Army to easily access its last military post, South of the Karakoram Pass. But the Indian Army knows its job and how to do it. All it needs is an order, an order that will ensure that nobody will get away with even the slightest intrusion. China is faced with territorial challenges in the east with Japan and in the south with other neighbours from Vietnam to the Philippines. Watching China’s aggressive territorial moves in the past, India should have learnt one lesson. This is not the first time China has intruded into Indian territory and it will not be the last. But there is an alarming pattern: China does not easily vacate the small strips of territory that it has occupied. But this cannot and should not be tolerated, because it continues to keep India off balance, something China is perfectly comfortable with. Besides, no matter what India’s China experts expound, this has serious implications for the border question and India’s territorial integrity. Therefore, India needs to further galvanise economically and military point of view. It is pointless to talk to China in the given scenario.
By Deepak Kumar Rath