ite by bite and in kilometers, China is encroaching India’s Himalayan borderlands. It’s been decades, Asia’s these two giants have fought a bullet less war for territory along their high-altitude border. Recently, though, China has become more forceful, underlining the need for a new Indian containment strategy. The strategy underlying China’s actions is more remarkable than their scope. On land, like at sea, China uses civilian resources—herders, farmers and grazers—as the tip of the spear. Once civilians settle on contested land, army troops gain control of the disputed area, paving the way for the establishment of more permanent campsites or observation posts. Similarly, in the South China Sea, China’s naval forces follow fishermen to carve out space for the reclamation of rocks or reefs. In both theatres, China has deployed no missiles, drones or bullets to advance its objectives. China maintained its modus operandi in a non-violent belligerence and garnered less opposition than its blue-water ambition, which has been challenged by the US under international law. Interestingly after the COVID19 suffering and spread, all the other powerful nations strained their guns towards China. Most of the time, Indian government and its leaders even overlook China’s actions. During a recent panel discussion in Russia, for example, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that although China and India are at odds over borders, it was remarkable that “in the last 40 years, not a single bullet has been fired because of [it].” Yes, what the PM said is right, there was no blood shed or killings, it was life getting in and thrown out. All was done very quietly. On average, China launches one slyness invasion into India every 24 hours. BJP’s Kiren Rijiju, India’s minister of state for home affairs previously spoke about it. He time and again maintained that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is actively intruding into vacant border space with the objective of occupying it. And according to a former top official with India’s Intelligence Bureau, India has lost nearly 2,000 sq. km to PLA encroachments over the last decade.
To gauge Modi’s foreign policy in regard to China. Let us be clear that every Indian Prime Minister in the past had not succeeded in their China policy. We are aware about India’s embarrassing loss to China in the 1962 boarder war. We Indians still don’t trust China even though we are very happy to use Chinese products. Our government and people have not talked about China openly till recent times. We still have a fear or distrust of China in mind which stopped us to debate about them. During the Vajpayee government, then defense minister George Fernandes openly made a statement that “the China is our no. 1 enemy and his statement was criticized hugely by Indian media. One good thing happened after this media trial, at least we became more open about China. The issue and subject which was non topic but after Fernandes’s speech it gathered momentum. Somehow, after many years BJP once again came to power and Sino-Indo relations worsened during the Modi era but India has learned to take on China head on. Previous PMs like Manmohan Singh or Vajpayee may have sent delegation in China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) submit with some reservations or protests over CPEC. But India was only one major country which boycotted OBOR submit. Many Indians experts say that India should have participated and should have taken advantage of this gigantic infrastructure project. But Modi maintained sovereignty of India a top priority. India will not accept any project which interrupts our dominion. India considers Pak Occupied Kashmir as an integral part and can’t accept a project which passes through Jammu & Kashmir.
On the other hand, India after many years allowed the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh despite massive diplomatic protests by China. This was a very clear signal to China that if China opposes India’s entry to NSG and blocks India’s move to ban Massod Azhar in the Security Council then India will take reciprocating actions. India has recently conducted naval exercises with Singapore in the South China Sea and India has improved strategic relations with Australia & Japan in the last three years. China clearly understood that the Indo-Japan-Australia alliance in Indo-Pacific regions will create huge hitches for their country. China meanwhile tried to surround India with its filament of pearl policy. It is virtually controlling Gwadar port in Pakistan and aimed to get military access to Sri Lankan & Myanmar sea ports. China is giving massive aid to Bangladesh & Nepal and it is tough for India to match such endowments. All neighboring couriers of India have signed agreements for OBPR projects.
We may see a cold war like situation between India & China if situations don’t improve soon. But there are some silver linings also. India is collaborating with China in Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and BRICS bank. An Indian (K V Kamath) is chairman of the New Development Bank of BRICS countries. India has become part of the Shanghai Cooperation forum and we are already part of BRICS. China had pledged investment of 30 plus billion USD when Chinese President visited India two years ago. Chinese companies are heavily investing in India. Sino-Indo annual trade has crossed 75 billion USD even though India has a massive trade deficit with China. India had become a new market for Chinese companies & investors. Many popular Indian startups like Paytm have been funded by Chinese investors. Today China is openly welcoming Indian software professions when western countries, Singapore, Australia etc. are shutting doors for Indian techies. Until recently Chinese products were considered cheap and many still consider them cheap but the success of Lenovo & Xiomi have changed perception of Chinese products in India. Today China can’t afford to lose Indian market. The relationship between China & India has been of love & hate in recent years. Which is soaring now but I am sure both the heads of nations may give check met to each other. China should treat India as an emerging power and India should accept the fact that China is clear no.2 power in the world. It’s ok to have differences but both countries should keep the dialogue channel open. There is a vast difference between India and China. India’s GDP is around 20% of China’s GDP, China’s annual exports is equal to India’s GDP. Remember the way we laugh at Pakistan, when they say they can compete with us even after being just 10% of our economy, this same stance is used by the Chinese. Modi will have to exercise his China policy very carefully in the next few years. He has so far played a smart game by confronting China but has also engaged China simultaneously. I can say that Modi’s China record has not been average but the next few years will be very crucial. These two powers can make or break the future of the world. Currently Narendra Modi is not able to tackle China, but may be in future he comes up with something concrete. Let us remember that India and China fought a war in 1962 over their contested border in the Himalayas. The war ended with a truce and the formation of a de facto boundary, known as the Line of Actual Control. The LAC is a rough demarcation line separating Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory. The exact location of sections of the line, particularly in the western Ladakh region, have remained in dispute. Efforts between the two countries to clarify the LAC have stalled in the past two decades.
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