CHENNAI, India, 10 February 2019
When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited India’s frontier state Arunachal Pradesh to inaugurate some projects on 9 February 2019, China objected to his visit, stating that it “firmly” opposed the trip. The spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry said that China does not recognize Arunachal Pradesh as part of India and India has to respect China’s interest and concerns. This is an atrocious claim of China, as the state of Arunachal Pradesh has been an integral and inalienable part of India ever since India’s independence. Arunachal Pradesh has a democratically elected government and anybody from any part of India can go to Arunachal Pradesh freely, just as any resident of Arunachal Pradesh can go to any part of India to work, live, or travel freely.
Such an objection by China clearly indicates China’s greedy expansionist policy, and it seems to think that any neighbouring country belongs to it!
China has been trying to dominate and control neighbouring countries by launching economic or military aggression. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind now that China thinks that it can say and do anything and get away with it. Obviously, the time has come to control and discipline China and make it realize that its expansionist policy will not go unchallenged.
In the 1950s, China forcibly entered Tibet claiming that Tibet belongs to it. In the process, its military massacred innocent Tibetans, arrested and tortured the protesting Tibetans, and drove several of them out of China as refugees to seek safety elsewhere. The respected Dalai Lama had to flee to protect Tibet’s long-term interests. Unfortunately and shamefully, the world conscience largely remained silent without condemning China’s aggression in Tibet, and China gleefully considered such silence as the approval for its misdeeds in Tibet. Tibet continues to suffer, with Tibetans in Tibet and around the world not knowing when and how Tibet would get its freedom back and get its position back as an independent country.
In the last several years, China has effectively brought Pakistan under its control by exploiting the unstable governments in Pakistan and extending huge loan and grant and taking over several vital mines, ports, and other installations. Pakistan has gifted part of its occupied territory in Kashmir to China, accepting China’s claim that the territory belongs to it. Now, Pakistan is so much under the control of China that many suspect that Pakistan has already become an extended province of China. The only effective opposition to China in Pakistan may come from the Muslim clergy and extremist Islamic groups, who know that China would seek to suppress them sooner or later. However, since the Chinese government is known to go to any extent to suppress dissention, one wonders whether even the Muslim clergy can rid Pakistan from China’s control.
China has deceptively and cleverly got total control of the Hambantota port in debt-ridden Sri Lanka, and there is no way that Sri Lanka can get rid of China’s control in the foreseeable future.
In 1962, China launched a bloody military war against India in the Ladakh region which it decisively won and it continues to occupy the “conquered territory” in the Ladakh region, and has no intention to give up control of this region. The recent Doklam conflict with India initiated by China is yet another instance of China’s expansionist policy.
It is very clear that China’s claim to India’s province Arunachal Pradesh is part of its long term strategy of occupying the neighbouring countries, with least regard for fairness or decorum in dealing with neighbours.
Unlike the case of Tibet, when China sent its military to occupy Tibetan territory, it cannot do so in similar manner in the case of Arunachal Pradesh in India. Obviously, China is waiting for an appropriate opportunity to do so and will continue to adopt an aggressive posture with regard to the Indian border state.
When China forcibly occupied Tibet, the Indian government at that time did not protest and let China go its way. India certainly let down Tibet in its hour of crisis. India continues to take the stand that Tibet is part of China. Though India has accommodated the Tibetan refugees in India, it continues to apply restrictions on Tibetans in India subtly to prevent them from launching a Tibet liberation movement effectively.
By adopting a weak foreign policy towards China to keep China in good humour in the case of Tibet, India is paying a big price, as its own territory Arunachal Pradesh is being claimed by China now.
Certainly, it is now the time that India has to question China about its continued occupation of Tibet and persecution of Tibetans. To defend itself against China’s expansionist policy, India has to necessarily adopt an aggressive pproach in dealing with China, so that China would realize that India cannot be taken for granted.
India’s continued efforts to keep China in good humour have become counter productive and is against the interests of India.
Given the world circumstances today and the ongoing trade war between US and China, and the US and several Western countries too realizing that China need to be controlled, raising the cause of Tibet in every world forum should be the appropriate strategy for India, to drive sense into the Chinese government.
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.