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Crumbling fortune cookie

india Updated: Aug 14, 2009 22:23 IST
Pratik Kanjilal
Pratik Kanjilal
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

A Chinese troublemaker who conceals his identity behind the nom de guerre of ‘Strategy’ has raised a storm with the modest proposal that China should break up India by supporting its million mutinies. Since his essay appeared on the website of a Chinese think-tank just in time for the current round of India-China talks, and since Beijing is quite particular about who is allowed to publish and who gets beaten over the kidneys in a soundproof location, maybe we can regard this as an official communiqué.

This is serious. This is seriously irritating. For a half-century, Beijing has been trying to influence the future by fiddling with the past. Now, does it want to fiddle with the present, too? We have to figure this out. Follow me closely because your time is short and my space is limited and space and time structure all realities, as Einstein demonstrated in an elegant theory which is now, sadly, overshadowed by E=mc2, the basic template for a nuclear bomb. The Chinese have more bombs than us. This is related trivia.

However, the main issue between India and China is its claim on Arunachal Pradesh, which it briefly occupied in 1962. Beijing calls this tract South Tibet to justify its historical claim. China had occupied Tibet after suppressing the rising of 1959, and Arunachal became South Tibet by natural extension, since it was the next acquisition. That’s Chinese history for you.

Chinese foreign policy is irredentist, reaching back into the distant past to justify current expansionist aims. In 2002, Beijing mandated the Chinese Academy of Social Science to launch the fabulously named Northeast Borderland History and Chain of Events Research Project, which posited the former existence of a Greater China covering half of Asia. All the people of this area are held to be intrinsically Chinese, even if they are now Koreans or Tajiks.

The aim was to strengthen Chinese claims on ethnic Koreans in Manchuria, who could secede if the two Koreas ever unite. But the theory got Beijing into hot water. Both Koreas protested because the early Common Era Korean kingdom of Goguryeo was identified as Chinese. But their outrage did not prevent Beijing from launching similar Southwest and Northwest Projects in Tibet and Xinjiang to strengthen claims to the lands of the restless Buddhists and Uighurs.

And now they want to break up India. I question their wisdom in pursuing this expensive project. Aren’t we Indians doing enough already? A fortnight ago Binayak Sen, freshly released from illegal confinement, dropped in for a chat. He was visibly anguished about the use of military force against the villagers of Chhattisgarh. So what else is new? From Kashmir to Dhanushkodi, from Punjab to Manipur, the State has used the assault rifle as a handy replacement for political solutions. It’s gotten so bad that Maoism, which promises nothing but more heartbreak, has become a credible alternative to government.

China has problems of its own. It is multi-ethnic like India and the seams show. Its internal differences have a bad habit of becoming huge international issues like Tibet. The Chinese don’t need anyone’s help to fall apart. ‘Strategy’ would be better off watching his own back instead of stirring up trouble in the region.

Pratik Kanjilal is publisher of The Little Magazine