prudent step

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 Aug 2017 12:37:38

NEITHER the stand-off nor actual fighting was in anybody’s interest over the disputed tri-junction site of Doka La. Hence it was prudent for China and India to de-escalate the eyeball to eyeball situation. The diplomatic agreement between the two neighbours comes ahead of the crucial BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit being hosted by China. It would have been quite an embarrassment for both China as well as India if the stand-off over the border would have continued. It would have certainly cast a shadow on the BRICS summit and like the SAARC, where Indo-Pak bilateral disputes have bedeviled the development of the regional grouping as a powerful regional force, BRICS would have suffered the same fate, with India and China squabbling over their bilateral disputes. 

Besides, there are many more international fora where the two countries have joint stake and have to cooperate with each other to safeguard each other’s interests, like the Paris environmental agreement. This does not mean that the disputes between the two neighbours, which pertain to territorial matters, can be wished away.

There was a time when the two countries did not see eye to eye with each other, the relations being soured by the Chinese aggression of 1962 and frequent incursions by the Chinese army in Indian territory, laying claim on those territories. It was first Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and then Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee who took the initiative to break the ice as the two sides agreed to put the border claims on the back-burner and carry forward relations in other areas of cooperation.

Since then much has changed and China has emerged as one of the major business and investment partner of India, so much so that India faces an adverse balance of trade with China. So both the countries have much to gain from each other as India is on the verge of a big leap in economic development and China would be interested in being part of that process. Already there are ongoing Chinese infrastructure projects in several sectors like the Railways, power etc. worth billions of rupees.

In the light of this position, it is inexplicable that China should adopt a blow hot, blow cold policy in relation to India. Its adversarial role in international and bilateral matters, like India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), its opposition to declaring Hafeez Sayeed as global terrorist, its illegal entry into PoK and its raking up claim on Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim etc. are rather baffling and irritating.

The Doka La stand-off since June this year was a sign of muscle flexing and clearly aimed at brow-beating India through show of military might. But the manner in which India responded in kind to the threatening posturing, it must have come as a surprise for China, who might have expected India to cow down and back-off. Nothing of the sort happened.

The Indian armed forces too showed that they were ready to meet any challenge from China. The international community too got worried over the developing situation and expressed the desire to use diplomatic channels. Fortunately both the countries kept their diplomatic channels open which appears to have paved the way for the two countries coming to an agreement on de-escalating the tension. The tension seems to have blown over for now.

But China is so unpredictable and untrustworthy that India would have to remain in a state of preparedness to face any challenge from the China. That means India will have to raise the bar of economic and military strength, the two factors that the Chinese have been flaunting. That is the only way the Chinese’ insatiable territorial ambitions and hunger could be dealt with.