How China went back on its commitment

…and India doesn’t even realise that it has been had

Did anyone notice how China’s support for the India-US nuclear deal has been matched by its backward movement on settling the border dispute? While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh came away with a “Chinese nod for him to underwrite India’s independent foreign policy”—as the Indian Express put it with dreadful (and unintended) irony—the Chinese breach of promise over settling the border dispute went unnoticed. The clever men in Beijing have every reason to be happy with Dr Singh’s visit: they gave away nothing while appearing to give a great deal, and in the bargain, ensured that they clawed back what little they had conceded in the border dispute. The best part for them was that despite all this, it was the Indian media that was celebrating!

Here’s the net outcome of Dr Singh’s visit: China has gone back on its position that the eventual border between the two countries will not disturb existing population centres. It did not show any enthusiasm to exchange official maps—a step that would have set the parameters of a final settlement. It is now not only quibbling over the meaning of the term population centres, but also sending its troops to demolish Indian bunkers. It is bleeding obvious that China wants to keep the dispute alive.

The gains that India achieved under the Vajpayee government have been lost under the UPA. Dr Singh’s visit only confirmed that. China could do this because it realised that Pakistan could no longer be used as a strategic lever against India after 9/11. It also realised that it could use the divisiveness of India’s domestic politics instead. The Left parties were anyway batting for Beijing, the BJP played into its hands and the Congress Party lacked the political sagacity to forge a non-partisan consensus on the nuclear deal. The Communists have reason to be pleased with the visit. But for others, there is no reason to celebrate.

The passage of the nuclear deal was only a matter of time. It was essentially a fait accompli for Beijing. Yet the UPA government and sections of the media projected Beijing’s blessings as a way to secure the approval of the Indian Communists. This came at a terribly expensive price: India didn’t lift as much as finger while China turned back on what it had agreed on the border dispute.

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4 thoughts on “How China went back on its commitment”

  1. We really need a bunch of bold maneuvers to get an upper hand in our China relationship, starting of course, with our re-acquiring the leverage we gave away by accepting Tibet as a part of China and our acceptance of One-China policy.

    We also need project zero tolerance on aggressive military posturing by the PLA. It is a game two can play at.

    Strengthen our relations with Bhutan and our military presence there. Most importantly we must fix the mess we made or permitted to be made in Nepal by anti-India elements.

    These regions are our backyard and however much we might not want to be seen as a big-brother to some of the most culturally sensitive populations there, it is in our national interest to take an active role there.

    Fix the internal situation in the NE. Nitin made an excellent suggestion in the July issue of Pragati. We need more such ideas.

    If China goes back to archaic positions during the negotiations then we must withdraw from the farce we have to engage in, in the JWGs. It is a waste of our diplomatic and beaureucratic resources and causes huge diversion of attention in the media, which has a short attention span anyway when it comes to our own strategic interests.

  2. The media has immense responsibility towards the people & the nation since it has the capacity to reach & influence. It should be putting forward what’s good for the nation & not act as a PR tool to any political ideology. These folks can bring about awareness, unite the nation & ignite a passion for the nation by putting forward national interests.

    However, our media lacks the capacity to be objective & leans heavily to the left, largely. It seems to propogate either it own views or the political views it subscribes to. Most of our journalists have proven to be immature & are incapable of looking above narrow interests. There is a severe lack of mainstream journalists with integrity in our nation.

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