In the last eight years when Wen Jiabao was the Chinese premier, nothing worthwhile was achieved. On the other hand, China has been asserting its rights on Indian territories as well other regions in Asia. India must be on guard before it is too late
In the last few weeks, China has been on the front pages of newspapers all over the world, mostly for wrong reasons.
The outgoing premier, Wen Jiabao, who had met Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh fourteen times in the last eight years, has reassured the latter that the new Chinese leadership will give ‘importance’ to ties with India! Jiabao will be demitting office by March next year.
It is a different story altogether that in the last eight years when Jiabao was the premier, nothing worthwhile was achieved. Though there were no border skirmishes (as such of the 1962 scale), Indian airspace was violated several times; repeated claims were made on Arunachal Pradesh and Indians from this part of the country were “treated as persons not requiring visa to visit China” and so on. Initially, they were refused visas to visit China because they were carrying Indian passports.
In fact, when Dalai Lama visited the area, there were ‘protests’ and considered this as an ‘unfriendly’ act! Now the latest documentary onslaught involves the Chinese citizens visiting India have maps of Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin being shown as parts of China. It may be recalled that Aksai Chin has been illegally occupied by China.
In an immediate retaliatory move, when the Indian Embassy in Beijing issued visa to Chinese nationals visiting India, these very areas are shown as Indian territory. So far, China has not responded to this counter move! The passports of the visiting Chinese nationals will show the conflicting maps, regardless.
To complicate the situation internationally further, even the disputed areas in South China Sea, claimed by Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan, are shown in these maps as ‘Chinese’ territory.
In fact, on some of these islands, China has even started construction work! American leadership has not sent the 7th fleet to the region!
And the latest brazen move in this regard is the announcement by the Hainan Provincial authorities that they will exercise the right to inspect vessels on the South China Sea, even if they are outside the 22km international sea border!
Except for verbal protests and suitable utterances by some western spokesmen that these “unilateral actions” are ‘unacceptable’, and expect the Chinese leadership to settle the matter ‘peacefully’, as we go to the press, nothing really has happened so far....
None of the claimants like Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines or Taiwan can match China in any way. Besides, the trade involved with China is too big a prize to lose and yet protest they must, which is what they can do at best!
Closer at home, Pakistan is a puppet and a close ally of China. And the Chinese encirclement of India is actually tightening. The all-weather port work at Baluchistan is in full swing; the Myanmar military government is heavily dependent upon Chinese support; Bangladesh has economic ties as does Sri Lanka in many ways.
Read more India and China, here.
Set against these Chinese moves, the Indian government has not been able to gather much real support from these nations.
One cannot venture even to speculate what might happen if there is a break-away situation in Baluchistan or the Taliban from Afghanistan makes sudden moves in that area. How would the Chinese react?
In any case, India must now be on guard also against the strong possibility of China trying to occupy or making intrusions in the uninhabited islands in the Andaman group.
Chinese assurances are not worth the paper they are written on—if they write!
Read more from the same writer.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)