Weakening Sino-Indian relations
For being too hypothetical, is it relevant to Indian diversity?
DIPLOMACY BY DR AKHTAR HUSSAIN MIR
Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai. A psychological buffer failed to replace the physical - Tibet. Can it afford to stick to ‘the strategy of Quid Pro Quo’ now…………………………….?
It was a very perturbed Sardar Patel who wrote to J L Nehru on November 7, 1950, pointing out that by our silence at the UN, we had accepted Chinese suzerainty over Tibet. In a forceful letter, Patel, not a man to mince words, warned that “The Chinese Government has tried to delude us by profession of peaceful intentions” but in fact “it is not a friend speaking in that language, but a potential enemy”. He then detailed ten steps that needed to be considered to strengthen our internal border security and defenses especially in the North-East. The tragedy is that this letter was apparently never discussed. Till 1950, India had borders with Tibet not with China and by accepting China’s suzerainty we became direct neighbors. Also this concession in effect gave China a border with Bhutan, Nepal, India and Pak-occupied Kashmir. It was in April 1954, India and China (People’s Republic of China) signed an eight-year agreement on Tibet that set forth the basis of their relationship in the form of Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, or Panch Shila. On this political move, Nehru observes, “in the absence of either the wherewithal or a policy for defense of the Himalayan region, India’s best guarantee of security was to establish a psychological buffer zone in place of lost physical buffer to Tibet.”Though India’s diplomacy with China in 1950’s was Hindi Chini bhai- bhai, but Nehru did not trust the Chine at all. B y annexing Tibet, China now had the potential to be a player in South Asia. China and India are two of the world’s oldest civilization and have coexisted in peace for millennia. Cultural and economic relations between China and India date back to ancient times. The Silk Road not only served as a major trade route between India and China, but is also credited for facilitating the spread the Buddhism from India to East. The revolt in Tibet in March 1959 leading to the Dalai Lama’s flight to India added to China’s paranoia. The Chinese thought it necessary to warn India through its ambassador Pan Tzu-Li in a letter to Prime Minister Nehru in May 1959, saying that China would make common cause with Pakistan. This would force India to face diplomatic and military pressure on two fronts. Therein lay the beginning of an all weather affair that is deeper than the ocean and higher than the mountains.
Relations between contemporary China and India have been characterized by border disputes, resulting in three major military conflicts-the Sino-Indian war of 1962, the Cholas incident in 1967, and the 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish. But 1962 and 1965, were landmark years when India was involved in conflicts with both her neighbors. This provided an opportunity for Pakistan to get closer to China and the two have remained locked in warm unusually unquestioned embrace. For China, becoming Pakistan’s largest arm supplier to match Indian acquisitions-conventional, delivery system and nuclear weaponry was a convenient hedge against India, and Pakistan thus strengthened by American indulgence and Chinese connivance felt emboldened to hone its assistance to freedom fighters (militant) as a low cost, highly effective foreign policy option.
However, since late 1980s, both countries have successfully attempted to reignite diplomatic and economic ties. In 2008, China emerged as the largest trading partner of India and the two countries have also attempted to extend their strategic and military relations. Despite growing economic and strategic ties, several issues continue to strain Sino-Indian relations. Though bilateral trade has continuously grown, India faces massive trade imbalance heavily in favor of China. The two countries have failed to resolve their long-standing border dispute and Indian media outlets repeatedly report Chinese military incursions into Indian Territory. In order to become a regional power, China aspires to destabilize India, and for this purpose it maintains good relations with all anti-India elements, whether it is insurgency in North-Eastern India, or Pakistan. To make Pakistan capable to equalize India in power, China gave its nuclear and missile technology. Pakistan is one of the largest users of Chinese military equipment. This has doubled India’s harbor of suspicions about China’s strong strategic relations with its arch-rival Pakistan while China has expressed concern about India’s military and economic activities in disputed South China Sea. Consequently both nations have steadily built-up infrastructure along border areas.
Pak-India hostility has been well exploited by China as a bridge for accessing West Asia not just as a counter to the US. It seeks geostrategic space and the rich mineral deposits of oil and gas, copper, gold, zinc, lead, iron-ore and aluminum in these countries including Afghanistan and Central Asia. There are reports of Saudi-Pakistan-China tie up on nuclear issues as well. Chinese ambitions extend beyond using Pakistan as a low cost secondary deterrent to counter India. Ayesha, a Pakistani analyst observes, China is an ‘empire by stealth’ which is “growing steadily without necessarily taking on the socio-political or economic liabilities of its client states.”China will invest only in the extractive industries of Pakistan not in the country’s development.
China is surrounding India from all the sides, By building a railway station for Pakistan at zero line, would mean that PLA is at stone’s throw It is building a naval base in Gwarda on the Makran coast that has great significance and importance for China only if has unimpeded access through Gilgat and Baltistan, from where it can keep an eye on all Indian, European and American vessels passing through Persian Gulf, the recent development where Pakistan is leasing Gilgat and Baltistan to China for fifty years has been a cause of great concern to India authorities. Building of a base in Maldives, developing a civil port in Sri Lanka, building a naval base in Myanmar etc, is adding more fuel to the fire. Whatever is happening with India, India seems to be very much affected by continuous bullying by China, but can India do something to control it? If India won't act, China will take India soft and will either include it in its own influence and try to maintain its monopoly in the region or it will crush India. The need of the hour is that India has to do something, it should have a strong economy first, strong international relations second, and good military third. Then only India can keep its stand otherwise messing with China will be like inviting punishment for India. Had India heeded Sardar Patil’s advice in 1950 it would not perhaps been in this state of feeling surrounded by China from all sides?
(Dr Akhtar Hussain Mir is professor Political Science. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Mar 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Mar 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Mar 2012 00:00:00 IST
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