IssueVol. 28.2 Apr-Jun 2013| Date : 24 Jun , 2013
Robert Kaplan in his book “The Revenge of Geography” suggests that, “India’s rivalry with China is not like the one with Pakistan: it is more abstract, less emotional, and (far more significantly) less volatile. It is a rivalry with no history behind it.” Therefore, at the highest levels we need to assess more accurately what China’s National Interests are and how and why it regards India as an impediment in its development process. Just as China expects other nations to respect its core interests and sensitivities, so should India make clear its concerns whether it pertains to refuge accorded to the Tibetan Government in exile, or India’s relations with US and/or Japan. India should convey its position emphatically on issues regarding its sensitivity to China’s military and naval presence in the countries around India, China’s relations with Pakistan pivoting on collusive military support aimed to constrain India, or India’s concern with regard to the easy availability of “Made in China” weapons and munitions to insurgents in the North-East and at the same time, India should assertively pursue its own National Interests.
A major weakness with India lies in the lack of knowledge in communication skills in Chinese language.
The recent Chinese incursion across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh is not a one off incident; neither is it going to be the last of its kind. Therefore, the incident warrants a deeper understanding on this matter of the differing perceptions of the LAC. Notwithstanding the fact that respective perceptions have not been shared or exchanged by both sides, measures to assert India’s claims need to be built-in without an overt display of belligerence. The perceived maladies in the present dispensation and possible recourse are discussed in the succeeding paragraphs.
At the outset it is relevant to note that China has accorded due cognizance to the Chinese armed forces as a prominent element of national power. The Chinese White Paper on Defence released on April 16, 2013, in which China has symbiotically defined the role of the armed forces as, “It is the strategic task of China’s modernisation drive as well as a strong guarantee for China’s peaceful development to build a strong national defence and powerful armed forces which are commensurate with China’s international standing and meet the needs of its security and development interests.”
Further, in pursuit of the doctrine of fighting and winning local wars under conditions of informationalisation, the modernisation of its armed forces is being suitably tailored. At the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Headquarters, a new Department of Strategic Planning has been established as also the Department of Communications has been reorganised as Department of Informationalisation. Significantly, the Paper further states, “We will not attack unless we are attacked; but we will surely counter-attack if attacked.” These two seemingly innocuous points indicate the desire to be prepared to dominate any situation arising along its borders. Ironically, the 1962 Chinese offensive into India was deemed by them as a “self-defence counter-attack”. That the most recent White Paper on Defence reiterates the latter point should not be dismissed without due consideration.
The Boundary and Territorial Integrity
There are three steps in establishing a country’s boundary – Delimitation, Demarcation, and Delineation. In the 1960 Boundary Talks, both India and China had defined their claimed International Boundary and in the process delimited their respective boundaries. Though the term LAC figured for the first time in the letter to Nehru from Zhou Enlai in November 1959, there was no formal exchange or discussion on the alignment of the LAC during these talks. A dramatic new reality was presented after 1962 with the emergence of an unclear and unresolved LAC. Be that as it may, it behooves the Government of the day to put in place all measures to ensure the sanctity of all its claimed territorial assets with full vigour. To make excuses for any loss of territory by saying that, “not a blade of grass grows there” is indicative of a lack of conviction of its own stance and the perceptible lack of iron will and resolve to back its own consciously considered decisions and statements.