just concern

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Dec 2018 12:25:27

THE Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs was justified in expressing its concern over the infrastructure that the Chinese have built near Doka La tri-junction. From India’s security point of view it is too close for comfort. India has been voicing its concern to the Chinese authorities through diplomatic channels from time to time. The Parliamentary panel has expressed its surprise that the infrastructure has not been destroyed as was expected according to the agreement reached between the two Governments to end the over 70 days’ stand-off between the armies of the two nations. This raises doubts in India’s mind about Chinese intentions, suspecting that the Chinese dragon may raise its head again. So unpredictable is their behaviour. 

It may be argued that the Chinese have the right to raise infrastructure within their own territory and India cannot have any objection to that. That is what the Chinese have been arguing about their hectic infrastructure building along the borders with India everywhere. This means that India has to respond with equal measure to secure its own borders and territories by improving communication facilities. Chinese have been rather nonchalant in trespassing in Indian territories, whether in Sikkim. Arunachal Pradesh or the tri-junction at Doka La.

India has to respond with equal force and not be caught unawares as the Chinese have the propensity to usurp neighbouring countries’ lands and then lay claim on them. Hence the best response to such brazenness of the neighbour is to raise matching border infrastructure and remove all the stumblingblocks that impede quick movement of the country’s Army. Lack of all-weather roads, bridges, airfields etc. have been the big impediments in the quick movement of the Army in the difficult terrain of North-Eastern region but the Chinese had no difficulty in moving into Indian territory. However, thankfully, the present Government has realised the gravity of the situation well and has taken steps to augment road networks and other infrastructural facilities in the last four years. That is precisely why the Indian Army was able to move quickly in position when the Chinese tried to build road network in the Doka La region.

That confrontation of course has imparted a great lesson to the Indian Government. The Chinese may talk of having good neighbourly relations and express the desire to expand ties in various fields, but when territorial issues come they are the most unreliable and unpredictable neighbours. And hence the country cannot afford to remain off guard at any given time. While talks may continue at highest levels of the two Governments to sort out differences on border issues, defence, trade and business matters, but when it comes to territorial issues the Chinese word has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

That the Doka La stand-off took 13 rounds of diplomatic parlays to resolve, shows how difficult it is to deal with the Chinese on territorial matters. Though the Doka La was not a sovereignty issue for India, as the disputed territory belonged to Bhutan, as noted by the Parliamentary panel, but it, nevertheless, posed a serious challenge to India’s security. It was, therefore, necessary for India to respond with equal force to repel the Chinese challenge. A real challenge it was as militaries of the two nations tantalisingly came close to confrontation. The Parliamentary panel has very rightly praised the Government’s handling of the situation without shedding a drop of blood or loss of face.

That confrontation has given right message to the Indian authorities. While diplomatic exchanges may continue for prolonged periods to find solutions to issues between the two neighbours, India has no choice but be prepared to face any eventuality coming from a highly ambitious and strong neighbour.