Will China occupy Bhutan as it did Tibet?

NS Venkataraman

NS Venkataraman

By NS Venkataraman

CHENNAI, India, 30 August 2017

The stand-off between India and China with regard to Doklam is said to have been sorted out. India claims that it has stood against China with dignity and determination, despite many provocative statements from China, and resisted China’s attempt to enter Doklam. India further says that China will stop construction of the road in the Doklam area.

However, China is trying to give the impression that India has panicked due to its aggressive stance, and that India has been taught a lesson. China continues to say that its claim on Doklam is intact and that it has not changed its stand.

While tension in the Doklam area continued for several weeks, it is very clear that neither China nor India wanted a military conflict. Obviously, China wants to create an atmosphere of tension and scene of confrontation with India, as part of its long term strategy of overwhelming countries in Asia, expanding its territory, and emerging as the unquestioned and undisputed dominant country in Asia.

China’s aggressive stance in Doklam is part of its continuing practice of waging confrontation in one area or the other in Asia. The Doklam conflict was preceded by China’s claims with regard to the South China Sea and dispute with Japan on Senkaku island. Even while adopting such an aggressive stance, China has been untiringly putting forth efforts to economically dominate smaller countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Maldives in the Asian region, which is other face of China’s aggressive approach to dominate Asia.

Every Asian country now thinks that China is a big bully that they have to guard against. However, they have not taken any initiative so far to assert their position and safeguard their interests against domination by China. Such attitude of the Asian countries is only giving confidence to China that it can browbeat all Asian countries at its will.

China has been occupying Tibet over six decades now. The world has simply closed its eyes to China’s aggression in Tibet and suppression of the freedom-loving Tibetans. The next target for China is the Arunachal Pradesh region in India, on which it has made claim. So far, China has not shown any inclination to enter Arunachal Pradesh by force, but one need not be surprised if China would attempt to do so in future.

Many observers suspect that China creating tension in Doklam and creating dispute with Bhutan is a deliberate attempt to find an excuse to enter Bhutan and occupy the country, as it has done in the case of Tibet. While India has an agreement with Bhutan to defend Bhutan, China may risk a war to annex Bhutan. It appears that China has strong faith that the world opinion is impotent, and USA and west European countries, facing a multitude of problems on various fronts, would not take any tangible measures to prevent China entering Bhutan, though they may take some cosmetic steps like passing a resolution to condemn China in the UN Security Council.

While several Asian countries face threats from China economically or militarily, China’s threat to India is much more evident and seem to be immediate. The Doklam incident is only an indication of the shape of things to come.

The Indian government is facing an extremely difficult situation, as the country is making impressive growth in industrial and economic development and does not want to get bogged down in a military conflict with China.

In such circumstance, one cannot but remember the submissive attitude of the then British Prime Minister Chamberlain to Hitler’s Germany before the second world war and his approach to solve the dispute with Hitler by placating him.

One hopes that the Indian Prime Minister would be clearly aware that any attempts to placate and please China to ensure peace in the borders would be a futile exercise if India would not be capable of giving a fitting reply to China in the case of military conflict.

China already has two Asian countries, namely Pakistan and North Korea, under its full control. China will use North Korea to create problems for Japan and will use Pakistan to create problems for India.

Possibly, foreseeing such grim possibilities, it would be appropriate for India to sign a firm military pact with USA. If India has to pay some price for entering such military pact, it would be a much lesser price than what it has to pay for remaining passive against confrontation by China.

India should not make the mistake of allowing China to enter Bhutan, as India did in the case of Tibet earlier, not confronting China when it entered Tibet several decades back.

About the author

NS Venkataraman is a chemical engineer as well as a social activist in Chennai, India. He is the founder trustee of Nandini Voice for the Deprived, a Chennai-based not-for-profit organisation serving the cause of the deprived and down-trodden, and working for probity in public life.

More articles by NS Venkataraman on Tibet Sun.

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