New Delhi Must Step Up To the Plate and Deal with China with Political Courage and Determination

New Delhi Must Step Up To the Plate and Deal with China with Political Courage and Determination

From the very World-war II era, when both China and India emerged towards getting out of colonial rues around 1940s, Chines leadership viewed India as their long term competitor and constantly endeavoured to keep India under containment, by hook or by crook, to accomplish their goal.
Pursuing its India containment policy China continued to exploit the benighted nation Pakistan from 1950, as a brake on India. Across various governments in India since 1950, China eventually maintained a detente on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India for nearly half a century. However, it silently began leveraging its growing economy to execute the “string of pearls” strategy to encircle India from south East Asia to Africa. This has recently shown sharp acceleration, with the Belt and Road Initiative projects such as Hambantota and Gwadar ports in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor running right through Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Chanakya, India’s great ancient philosopher, said that your immediate neighbour is your natural enemy as he covets your territory and resources and is positioned to take them if he is more powerful than you. This is no doubt a bitter truth but since 2005, all Indian governments at New Delhi ignored this fact and tried to maintain a cordial relationship with China. However, Beijing constantly and openly undermined India’s efforts.
China opposes:

  • India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council
  • It opposes NSG membership to India;
  • It protects Pakistan at every international fora;
  • It continues to nibble at Indian Territory and refuses to clarify the Line of Actual Control.

Against a general belief that we should hold out friendship with China, which was considered as a great Asian Power and counterpart to India, but there were exception too, to this trend toward considering China as a potential friend. Late George Fernandes, defence minister in the Vajpayee government was emphatic that China is our enemy number one. Obviously, he was roundly attacked for this and in spite of pressure by his own colleagues, he kept discussing this informally with military officers.

Then defence minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, too, saw China as a clear threat and raised some questions about the Tibet Policy.
Unfortunately, our political establishment ignored the perceptions of late George Fernandes and Mulayam Singh Yadav and continued their hobnobbing with Chinese leaders. Why they ignored the issues raised by Fernandes. Why did our government and think tank ignore the issues he raised? Why did India’s establishment continue to focus on a much on a much weaker country such as Pakistan and view it our main enemy and New Delhi has tried to have a working relationship with China despite Beijing’s consistent efforts to undermine India.

Now it will be suicidal for New Delhi to trust Beijing anymore. By its recent actions, China has left India with no option but to push back hard, no matter what the cost and must follow “contain China” policy. Reiteration of India’s military, diplomatic and political redlines must be conveyed to China in no uncertain terms. Channels of communication between top leadership on both sides must however be kept open at times.

The present terse relationship has not surfaced all of a sudden. The warning signs have been apparent for some time and Modi Government has never been oblivious to China’s rise.

In fact, Modi’s China policy has been uncompromising across the board. From the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) to maritime security to emerging high technologies such as 5G, Delhi has been bold in its rhetoric and actions. Even in the geopolitical arena, India has been unabashed and dogged in engaging the United States (US), despite an unenthused president in the White House.

Across Asia too, Delhi has been proactively tapping China’s neighbours as a future countervailing hedge. With traditional ally Russia too, Modi’s renewed outreach in recent years is reminiscent of the old geostrategy — promoting a balance of power in Eurasia.

Besides keeping the Indian security forces deployed at the border to safeguard the Indian Territory from outside forces, India can adopt these three measures

  • Surveillance,
  • Communication, and
  • Population,

to save its land from getting occupied.

Surveillance:

In the current scenario when China is trying to get inside the Ladakh territory claiming it to be its own land, India should be fully prepared to deal with this type of misadventure. Effective and dedicated surveillance just like Israeli army by the good use of technology. Our army too, can set up:

  • Night-vision cameras to monitor movement,
  • Use third-generation thermal imaging technology and
  • Use detection radars and motion sensors and seismic Censors to get aware of any kind of activities along the LAC.

Communication:

  • Our Government vis-à-vis Indian Army must set up 5G technology to improve the communication in high altitudes areas where India still struggles with network issues. This will help the country in quick communication.
  • Establishing and maintaining airports will make it easy for the aircraft to bring in more force quickly and will also be an added benefit for the Indian armed force to fight any such battle.

Population:

  • Both central and state governments should draw a realistic scheme in setting up human establishments to increase population at the barren land because, places having good number of population will work as deterrent for any intrusion by outsiders.
  • Government should also establish and promote tourism. If foreign tourists visit such places regularly, it will be proved at the international level that the land belongs to India as it will hold the right to issue the travel visas to its tourist.

India’s Options beyond Aligning with US

India should react to China’s act of aggression in eastern Ladakh through all means at its disposal — economic, military, and diplomatic. India should also ensure that everything it does is driven by self-interest above all else, particularly in the economic domain.

At diplomatic front India should strengthen the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (or the ‘Quad’) with the US, Japan and Australia, and building a regional security architecture around this core.

In June 2016, the US also recognised India as “a major defence partner” – making India the only country in this category, as the US either has NATO partners or bilateral treaty allies.

Among China’s other rivals, Japan is already part of India’s Malabar Naval Exercises and Australia is likely to be invited to join this year.
For another, India can stop recognising the ‘One China’ policy, especially when Beijing itself does not consider Jammu and Kashmir as a part of India, and lays claim to parts of Ladakh.

This is crucial as the entirety of China’s claims on Indian Territory are based on its occupation of Tibet. By dubbing China as the ‘occupation force’ in Tibet, India could reopen the issue and build international pressure for China to negotiate Tibet’s future with the Dalai Lama.

India can open more doors for the Dalai Lama and invite Taiwan’s foreign minister for a visit apart from speaking up for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and Uighurs forcibly sent into so-called re-education camps.

India must join hands with other friendly nations in taking up Chinas human rights violations in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.

The Modi government must exclude Huawei from its 5G telecom trials. Huawei’s links with the Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army) are under intense scrutiny in the US. This would send a very strong signal internationally, putting India alongside Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan and the US, that have decided to phase out Huawei’s products within their mobile networks.

Prime Minister Modi’s Government must show political courage and determination in pursuing these options in the national interest. If India has to earn its rightful place at the international high table, it will have to show more accomplishment than it has demonstrated in dealing with China during the past few months. New Delhi must step up to the plate and deal with China with determination and not allow China the pleasure to see an India that gets humiliated.