Why China has permanent adversarial attitude towards India
Chinese interlocutors told Indian counterparts that boundary issues should not be taken to paramount leader Xi Jinping and raised every time by the Indian PM.
The standard refrain of Chinese leadership to Indian leadership raising the border issue is that boundary differences should be put in a “proper place” and that the two countries should work together towards normalization of the bilateral relations in other areas. This is also diplomatic jargon for saying that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi should not raise the boundary clarification every time he meets Chairman Xi Jinping but talk positively with the paramount leader. Simply put, the India-China boundary issue should not be raised with Emperor Xi as he has bigger global issues on his mind.
That President Xi has little time sorting out boundaries or other serious irritants in the bilateral relations such as the upstream building of dams on Brahmaputra by China in the great bend region of Tibet was realized by even then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he met the paramount leader for the first time as President on the sidelines of the BRICS Durban summit in March 2013. It is understood that in his first meeting as President with the Indian PM, XI was rather cold and distant and had no time for Indian concerns. Sure enough, the PLA had a stand-off with Indian Army in the Depsang Bulge area, south of Daulet Beg Oldi, in East Ladakh the very next month and blocked the rights of Indian troopers to patrol 1976 designated points within the Bulge area or from patrolling points 10 to 13. The patrolling rights to the Depsang area were restored in 2014-2015 but the PLA again blocked the patrolling route in May 2020 as the Chinese Army went belligerent transgression in Galwan, Khugrang nullah, Gogra-Hot Springs and Pangong Tso area of East Ladakh. Even today, the Indian Army’s patrolling rights issue in Depsang is still to be resolved as the PLA says that it is a legacy issue of 2013. The same holds true for the Charding Nilung Nullah (CNN) junction area of Demchok.
When paramount leader Xi was given the red carpet treatment by PM Modi in his home state Gujarat in September 2014, the PLA transgressed in Demchok and Chumar area, resulting in a huge stand-off with the Indian Army. While Indian Army commanders who served in that area say that PLA had blocked Indian Army’s patrolling rights once in 2005-2007, the position of the Chinese Army hardened in September 2014 on CNN junction. Till today, the rights of the Indian Army to patrol CNN junction have not been restored and are contested by PLA commanders. In this context, one must remember that all the 65 patrolling points, earmarked by the Indian Cabinet Secretary in 1976, are well within the Indian perception of the LAC in East Ladakh and in no way impinge on Chinese claims on the same LAC.
Despite the PLA amassing some 50,000 troops in East Ladakh with rockets, artillery guns and tanks in the western sector in East Ladakh and inducting some six extra combined armed brigades in the eastern sector, the Chinese take on border resolution is totally facile and disingenuous. PM Modi realizes the seriousness of the issue and thus insists on clarification of the LAC every time he meets the paramount leader, who perhaps thinks that it is not worth his while to attend to this pressing issue and wants to keep the boundary pot boiling.
While China says that India should not make bilateral ties hostage to boundary issues, facts are quite to the contrary as it is Beijing that has adopted an adversarial role against India on virtually all fronts barring some issues facing emerging developing economies. Consider this:
> China blocked India from entering the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in 2016 as it wanted its client state and known nuclear proliferator Pakistan to get the same status as India. One must remember that it was China that supplied nuclear missile technology and platforms to Pakistan in the 1990s via the North Korea route.
> China has repeatedly blocked India and its allies from getting most dreaded global terrorists based in Pakistan listed under 1267 UNSC committee. Names like Masood Azhar, Rauf Asghar of Jaish-e-Mohammed and Sajjid Mir of Lashkar-e-Toiba are part of the jihadi royalty and they have blood of thousands of innocents on their heads. But this is not all. The Chinese also sponsored moves of the Pakistani deep state to get innocent Indian engineers working in pre-Taliban Afghanistan listed as global terrorists. Thanks to India’s close allies US and France that these moves were blocked at the UNSC.
> China tried hard to push a resolution in the UNSC against the Indian move to remove article 370 and 35 A from Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. They opposed the new map showing the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and called the region disputed. It is another matter that the Chinese insist with all and sundry to abide by the “one China” policy which includes an independent Taiwan Republic.
> In 2017, the PLA under instructions from President Xi, transgressed on Doklam Plateau on the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction, in a move that would have totally compromised the Indian security of the Siliguri corridor or Chicken neck area. Had it not been for the swift decision-making of PM Modi and rapid deployment under then Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, the PLA would have reached Jampheri Ridge and dominated the entire Siliguri corridor. Despite the stand-off being resolved, this PLA move is still in progress with the Chinese advancing through Amu Chu in Bhutanese territory with Thimpu still oblivious to the threat and celebrating its Happiness Index.
The fact is that China has tried to push India to the wall in every opportunity it gets be it the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which runs through Occupied Kashmir and Northern Areas, surveillance radars to monitor Indian missile testing on Myanmar’s Coco Islands in Bay of Bengal, ballistic missile tracking ships and submarines at Sri Lankan ports and compromising the polity through serious money power or what is called suitcase diplomacy in Nepal and Bangladesh. In short, China has decided that it will block any move that helps India take its rightful place on the global high table with the boundary issue as a permanent lever to destabilize India. The Chinese supporters within India act as Beijing’s force multipliers as the returns are quite significant for raising the point of view of the Communist Party of China. One must remember former NDA defence minister George Fernandes was nearly hanged by Indian media for raising the Chinese presence in Coco Islands and potential threat to India nearly two decades ago. Then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was pilloried by the Left parties and Leftist media for naming China in a letter to UNSC as the real reason for the Pokhran II Shakti Series of nuclear tests in 1998.
What the Chinese leadership says and what it does on the ground are always diametrically opposite and PM Modi is well aware of the dichotomy. Under the circumstances, the only option left with India is to multiply its military capacities and capabilities and be ready with a counter.