Saturday, April 3, 2010

INDIA: CAUGHT BETWEEN CHINA & THE DEEP SEA

B. RAMAN


On April 1,2010, India and China embarked on a six-month programme to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. S.M.Krishna, the Indian Foreign Minister, is visiting China for four days from April 5 to join the celebrations.


2. Forgotten---at least for the time being--- are the suspicions, distrust and harsh words of last year over the visits of Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh to India’s Arunachal Pradesh State on the Chinese border in the North-East to campaign for local candidates in the elections and of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh at the invitation of the local people. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its territory and calls it Southern Tibet. It wants India to hand over to China under the border negotiations under way without progress at least Tawang if not the whole of Arunachal Pradesh.


3.The Chinese have a long memory. They have not forgotten that one of the old Dalai Lamas was born in Tawang and that the present His Holiness fled from Tibet into India in 1959 across the border in the Tawang area. They have made it clear that there will be no border agreement unless India transfers at least Tawang to China. That would mean the exodus of the Indian population from the territory handed over to China. No Indian Government, however popular, may be able to sell such a transfer favourable to the Chinese to the Indian Parliament and people.


4.2009 was full of alarming reports about the Chinese further strengthening their military infrastructure in Tibet and Chinese military patrols repeatedly intruding into Indian territory. Faced with opposition criticism of its perceived inaction against the growing trans-border assertiveness of China, the Government of India pressed ahead with an already ongoing programme for strengthening its military infrastructure in the Indian territory. India is many years behind China in developing its infrastructure in the border areas.


5.2009 also saw non-governmental Chinese analysts discussing in seemingly unofficial web sites and blogs the options available to China for teaching India a lesson should it become necessary. A repeat of the humiliating defeat of 1962 was one such option discussed. Taking advantage of the various separatist movements in India in an attempt to balkanize the country was another. An article on possible Indian balkanization by an unknown and insignificant Chinese analyst added to the already strong Indian suspicions of China.


6.China was active and assertive not only in the border areas. It has been equally so right around India’s periphery. Taking advantage of the suspicions and distrust of India in the other States of the South Asian region, China, which is not a South Asian power, has acquired a growing South Asian presence.


7.It continues to help Pakistan in further strengthening its nuclear and missile capabilities which are directed against India. After having completed the construction of the Gwadar commercial port on the Baloch coast, it has promised to develop it further into a modern naval base which would be available for use to the Chinese Navy too.


8.It won the gratitude of Sri Lanka by supplying it arms and ammunition to crush the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and is embarked on the expansion of the Hambantota commercial port, which might one day be developed into a naval base. A grateful Sri Lanka has given a block for gas exploration to a Chinese company without inviting bids. India was given a block for exploration without bids and China was treated on par with India.


9.There are as many Chinese tourists visiting the Maldives as Indian and a Chinese bank has been allowed to operate in the Maldives to meet the foreign exchange needs of the Chinese tourists.


10.In Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, despite her strong friendship for India, has continued with the look East policy of her predecessor Begum Khalida Zia and strengthened the links with China. During her visit to China in March, an agreement was signed with a Chinese company for oil/gas exploration in Bangladesh. She also sought Chinese help for the upgradation of Chittagong into a modern deep sea port. Her Government has sought to calm Indian concerns by reassuring India that India will also be allowed to use the Chittagong port modernized with Chinese help.


11.At least, Sri Lanka and Myanmar have sought to treat India on par with China by granting it equal rights of oil/gas exploration, but Bangladesh has not given any such contracts to India due to strong local opposition to India playing any role in the development of its energy resources.


12.Sheikh Hasina also discussed with the Chinese plans for linking Yunnan with Bangladesh through Myanmar by a modern road. If the Chinese company finds oil or gas in Bangladesh it is only a question of time before the Chinese production facilities in Bangladesh are connected with those in the Arakan area of Myanmar so that oil and gas from Bangladesh can flow direct to Yunnan through the pipeline connecting Arakan with Yunnan now being constructed.


13.In Nepal, China is looking for a road link to connect Nepalese roads with those in Tibet and for an extension of the railway line from Lhasa to Nepal.


14.Thus, the Chinese have been developing their infrastructure of potential military significance around India’s periphery. The Chinese think and plan long-term. Indian response is ad hoc. Just as New Delhi woke up late to the likely threats by land from the North, one realizes belatedly that the threats are from the South, East and West as well.


15.Whatever limited influence India has in South Asia is in danger of being eroded by the Chinese inroads. India is yet to work out a comprehensive response to it. All the sweet words of the 60th anniversary cannot hide this harsh reality. ( 3-4-10)


( The writer is Additional Secretary(retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-Mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

2 comments:

Sarang said...

China always approaches India with arms out-stretched. India is gullible enough to believe it is for a hug when in reality all China wants is to get at your throat!

ambi said...

Raman sir, I feel we should give credit to Chinese people, where it is due. Average Chinese has no liberty; no human rights, no freedom of expression nothing that a normal civilian expects from his state. Communist Party takes all the decisions regarding their life (including how many children a person can have. I hope Party does not decide how many times a man goes to toilet everyday.) Chinese government has done everything to curb common masses thinking ability, their smile, and their laughter. Poor Chinese are turned into eternal slaves.

On this background it is extremely gratifying to see that despite so much repression & hardship that Chinese people face from their government they have kept alive their thinking ability, however obsolete, & have kept their humor sense alive.
Or else where would have we heard comments like ‘teach Indians a lesson of 1962 which they have forgotten’. Or (this is the height of their comic sense): Balkanization of India. Ha Ha Ha. Just can’t stop laughing. Really liked this one. Funny Chinese! Real clowns!

But I feel the biggest joke from the mainland is this: ‘China wants to live harmoniously with all its neighbors’. Hoo Hoo Hoo! Ha Ha Ha!. Hee Hee Hee! Oh God this world is really weird.