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Rediff.com  » News » What Hu won't do in Delhi

What Hu won't do in Delhi

By Anil Athale
November 16, 2006 19:18 IST
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What President Hu Jintao will not do in Delhi is to win Indian trust to put Sino-Indian relations on an even keel.

On the eve of his visit, the Chinese Ambassador has reiterated his country's claim to the entire Arunachal Pradesh, and not just the district of Tawang.

India has bent over backwards by threatening a Tibetan dissenter with deportation should he dare to protest against the President's visit. The Comrades of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, who do not hide their loyalty to the Chinese hold a whipping hand in present disposition in Delhi.

All this makes the Chinese bold to seek economic concessions in name of 'pragmatism' and give nothing in return.

In the 1950s it was an over eager India under Nehru that recognised Chinese suzerainty over Tibet without getting a border settlement in return. We seem to wish to repeat history, this time joining the Chinese bandwagon of 'multipolarity' (read opposition to the US), without an acknowledgement or even a suggestion that China will pursue responsible policies vis a vis our perpetually hostile neighbours.

Sino-Indian relations have seen so many false dawns that this author is sceptical about any positive outcome from the visit.

It should not be forgotten that the Chinese President's visit, first in over a decade, is not just to India but to all the nations in the subcontinent. It is true that economic relations between the two giants are flourishing, but this is not because of, but in spite of Chinese adversarial policies vis a vis India.

Many years ago an Indian diplomat (now a very senior official occupying a key position in relation to China) had confided that the Chinese do not seem interested in settling the border dispute.

My answer to that was that maintaining the status quo suits China. It already has the territory it wanted ( Aksai Chin), and despite our brave Parliamentary resolution of 'retaking every inch of Indian territory', we have made no efforts in that direction nor built our strength to do it. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the Chinese want to keep the issue alive so that it has a ready excuse to intervene in the affairs of the sub-continent.

In my own parleys with the Chinese, nearly two years ago, I had proposed a simple suggestion to partially resolve the border problem. While there is indeed dispute over Aksai Chin area bordering Ladakh and there are Chinese claims over Arunachal Pradesh, along a vast area of the border with Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh (Central Sector), there is no dispute. I had suggested that while the difficult issues could be resolved later, why not demarcate the border in Central Sector? But that was two years ago, and nothing seems to have happened.

The Chinese claim over Arunachal Pradesh and specially Tawang is based on selective reading of history. It is true that Tawang district was indeed a part of Tibet for a long time, but by the same token the strategic Chumbi valley was part of Indian Sikkim.

Now that the Chinese have put forward a claim on Tawang, we could equally put forward a claim on the Chumbi valley (which is a dagger pointed at the narrow Siliguri corridor that joins Assam and North East with the rest of the country). Any such move, however, will have all of Delhi Pinkos and Sinophiles frothing at their mouths.

It seems that the Chinese have decided to take a leaf out of American book to fashion their policy towards India. This involves engaging India economically while containing it militarily: directly by keeping the border dispute alive and indirectly through its proxy, Pakistan.

It is noteworthy that over 70 per cent of Pakistan's military equipment, including its M-11 family of missiles, is of Chinese origin. China is also attempting to establish naval bases in Coco island of Myanmar, south Sri Lanka and Gwadar on the Baluchistan coast. Sooner of later it will have a lot of  strategic weight in the Middle East.

Despite all these adversarial moves, China expects India to toe its 'multipolarity line',  thanks to the Red lobby in Delhi. What China would do in return is a question seldom asked by these colour blind worthies. What can one expect from brain dead ex Stalinists who performed a virtual Tandav nritya when India tested nuclear weapons, but are yet to even squeak about North Korean nuclear tests?

India had a pro-Soviet faction and a pro-China faction in the Communist Party, but no pro-India faction.

The Arunachal claim at this time may well be a tactical ploy by the Chinese to first create a crisis, then defuse it and call it a 'concession.'

Col (retd) Anil Athale is the author of the official history of the Sino Indian War of 1962.

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