China has always proved to be a major villain in impinging on other’s territories or staking illegitimate claims on areas including on Senkaku islands in Japan, Islands in South China Sea and of course in various parts of India in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. China has been belligerently eyeing on these areas to assert its hegemonic designs and threaten militarily despite engaging in talks on settlement of boundary disputes specially along the Line of Actual Control (LAC ).
China’s sinister mind-set stands exposed time and again as we see from history when it militarily attacked India in 1962 and made incursions in Arunachal Pradesh (then NEFA) reaching upto Tejpur in Assam. Historians still don’t find any tangible reason for its unilateral and unprovoked aggression against India except for conveniently attributing it to the unrest in Tibet and refuge to Dalai Lama in 1959.
The trend continued as we see intermittent Chinese attacks on India’s territorial sovereignty by military misadventures in Sikkim Nathula in 1967) and fomenting the Doklam stand-off in Bhutan in 2017 lasting for 73 days. Also , the earlier border stalemates in Doklam, Depsang and Chumar. India had reposed faith in Chinese President Xi Jinping, who met the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in Wuhan (April 2018) and last in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu (October 2019).
The feelers were that boundary creases would be ironed out as there was no noticeable traces of belligerence or hostility in the air. It could not be fathomed that under the garb of talks, the Chinese leadership was planning a nasty blue print to resort to aggression on the Indian borders targeting Ladakh.
When the China caused COVID-19 is being fought globally and the priorities are different, Chinese military in an opportunistic ‘hitting below the belt game’ (June 15/16)killed in Galwan valley, Eastern Ladakh, one Commanding Officer (CO) of the 16 Bihar regiment of the Indian Army and 19 other troopers were brutally using clubs with nails attached in ‘hand to hand’ combats.
These were murders most foul and can not be justified by any stretch of imagination. Surprisingly again, senior military officers (of the rank of Lt Generals) on both sides were engaged in talks to de escalate the tension. Hence, it is more than evident that China had ulterior motives and worked on its nefarious agenda to commit such heinous war crimes.
A section of the experts reckon that China was irked by India as some political leaders from India had recently attended an event in Taiwan - a country not recognised by China, creation of Ladakh as an Union Territory (August 5, 2019) from the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s growing proximity towards the US, Japan and Australia, and also the Chinese plans to show to the world that it’s alive and kicking, it’s still the economic powerhouse despite all the odds.
China also wanted to signal the global community that its not the US which called the shots. However, most important irritant for China was India’s construction of critical border infrastructure within its own territory.Chinese uncalled for military activity on the Indian borders middle of this June has angered the US which has described it as a rogue state condemning the border act of highhandedness.
It’s time for the global community specially those countries which are affected by Chinese territorial disputes including Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan , the Philippines etc to rally together for a favourable public opinion against China to put it on the back foot.Experts, meanwhile, say that such border attacks on India killing its military personnel are carried out at the express orders of President Xi Jinping. So the villain is exposed.
His misdeeds in excessive action being perpetrated against the Uighurs or reckless action in Hong Kong are proof enough of an unilateral dictatorial policy with ambitious expansionist designs to bully its neighbours. Countries afflicted with Chinese hegemonic plans must be thinking that any military option is not a viable one so diplomatic recourse could cool China down albeit temporarily.
Which world power could be a volunteer to use it’s good offices to broker peace to prevail upon China to exercise restraint on its borders with India? One which immediately comes to mind is Russia yet one is not sure if Russia will really step in impairing it’s own strong ties with China. Still, that option is worth taking a look at.
Back in India Prime Minister Modi in a statement after an All Party Meeting (June 19) has ruled out any incursion by the Chinese into Indian territory which the Chinese media is exploiting to its advantage by misinterpreting the facts.
(Later, however, the Prime Minister’s Office clarified that PM’s statement, on June 20, reflected the situation only after the clash which has led to criticism by the opposition which the government has also dismissed as motivated propaganda.) Some critics also feel that this statement, though controversial on the surface, was a rhetoric towards facilitating the de escalation process.
Many critics of the Indian PM including retired military officers are on a frenzied spree to target PM Modi questioning the wisdom of his statement that if there was no Chinese incursion inside the Indian territory, how could 20 military personnel die? An avalanche of writings have started appearing in the Indian and western print media on this development. Many are calling upon Modi to reappear on TV with a fresh statement to dispel doubts.
Modi supporters including many military veterans in the meantime, are of the opinion that his detractors are misreading the latest statement to combat the PM in a bid to settle political scores. Modi opponents are even alleging that those castigating the PM need to remain steadfastly united at this critical juncture so as to stand by sovereignty of the nation than act as traitors.
In a quick move to counter and foil further military misadventures by the Chinese Army, the Indian Army has been granted freedom and discretion even to use fire arms. In other words, government doesn’t want to interfere in the Indian Army’s initiatives on the ground as deemed appropriate.
This comes amid reports that China might attempt more acts of blatant aggression and would impede Indian moves to build roads and infrastructure within its own territory. Situation therefore, remains tense and tricky. While more military and diplomatic level talks are in the pipeline, a deft handling to diffuse the situation retaining India’s territorial sovereignty must be the priority.
Simultaneously, China is wooing other Indian neighbours like Bangladesh promising enticing economic packages and healthcare facilities to meet the ongoing pandemic challenges. Similarly, Nepal is being taken on board in a dirty game of making territorial claims of areas well within India including in the state of Uttarakhand.
In a bizarre move, Nepal radio has been making weather forecasts of certain districts which are an integral part of India from time immemorial. Nepal couldn’t do this without any specific instigation from China.
It’s hoped that these neighbours of India don’t prove gullible and fall into the enticement trap laid by China which will be detrimental to their interests in the long run.Pakistan too seems emboldened by the Chinese action against India and might step up its military activity on the borders, with special focus on abetting fresh cross border terror happenings In Kashmir.
The writer is a security analyst and a freelance columnist writing on strategic and security related issues. The views expressed are personal .
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