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China, Tibet & Maoism:TIME INDIA CHANGES POLICY, by Dr Nitish Sengupta,3 December 2009 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 3 December 2009

China, Tibet & Maoism


By Dr Nitish Sengupta

(Former MP and Secretary, Finance (Revenue, Govt of India)

On the issue of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal, Beijing seems to have discarded all norms of decorum and decency, not to speak of diplomatic propriety. Otherwise she should not have reminded India of 1962, when her forces treacherously attacked Indian border guards across the Tibet-Arunachal border, not prepared for such action, and scored a few military victories.

China betrayed Nehru’s strong faith in ‘Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai’, forgot India’s role in gracefully withdrawing her garrisons from Lhasa and Gyantse in 1950 to facilitate the PLA’s taking over of Tibet and also her role in the early 1950s, when she was treated as an outcaste by western powers in her strong advocacy of China’s entry to the United Nations and in providing escort services to Third World gatherings such as the Bandung meet of the non-aligned nations and in strongly advocating China’s case for admission to the UN (1955).

It is widely believed that this betrayal caused Nehru’s cardiac stroke in 1963 and his untimely death in 1964. From then on China went on a steady anti-India policy even to the extent of abandoning her earlier neutral stand over Jammu & Kashmir, and shamelessly supporting Pakistan’s case by a bland letter issued on 6 July 1962 informing New Delhi that Beijing did not recognize India’s sovereignty over J&K. She further informed that she was constructing a road in Ladakh to connect Tibet with Sinkiang. 

This was followed by systematic attacks on Indian border outposts in both Ladakh and NEFA. India was found unprepared to take on the Chinese army, fully prepared to launch attacks. The Chinese advanced up to Bomdila on 19 November 1962, and declared unilateral withdrawal to their borders on 21 November, not giving the Indians a chance for a retaliatory strike.

But 1962 in a way was a blessing in disguise for India. She was compelled to pay attention to the defence of her northern borders and to start equipping her Armed Forces, both equipment-wise and organisationally. Thanks to the Indian Army’s preparedness and alertness along the Himalayan border, China did not needle India again. Even in 1971, when she had promised to Pakistan to come to her support, she did not, thanks to India’s preparedness and its military pact with the Soviet Union, which would have brought Moscow’s forces in support in any eventuality caused by China’s rash action. 

But once again Beijing seems to have reverted to a phase of jingoism. The reported border incursions are only a small part of its deeper agenda. Not only is she hobnobbing with India’s neighbours like Myanmar, jingoistic elements in Sri Lanka’s army and the Maoists in Nepal, but is allowing articles to be published in her blogues encouraging secessionism in India (not contradicted by any official disclaimer). From the letters written by Pakistan’s nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan it is clearly established that it was China which provided it with both enriched uranium and some needed equipments in order to build Islamabad’s nuclear capacity obviously directed against India.

And now it transpires from Union Home Ministry sources that much of the small arms used by the so-called Maoists here are of Chinese origin. If this is true, New Delhi should lodge a strong protest with Beijing. China’s aggressive military and diplomatic postures have to be linked up with her obvious efforts to support and equip the so-called Maoists or Naxalites, who have made their presence felt across India like a dagger, from Nepal borders through Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh, West Bengal and Orissa to Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.  India has thus also to fight a war within.

All this proves, if any more proof is needed, that Beijing has embarked on a mission to destabilize India. And, all this at a time when both nations are clearly competing for higher economic growth in a recession-hit world. However, China has a distinct edge largely because she does not have to contend with the formalities of an elected democratic system. New Delhi should sit up and take whatever corrective steps are necessary, not allow a repeat of 1962.

India’s Armed Forces must be provided whatever they need to defend its borders and to deal a crushing blow to all intruders, as the Vietnamese did to their big neighbour a few years ago. The Naxalites must be put down firmly and the common people won over. The firmness shown by Home Minister Chidambaram must be welcomed. Also, a ‘tit for tat’ policy of real politic is called for in reply to China’s straw-in-the-wind efforts to provoke secessionism in our country.  Importantly, there is need for a change in our policy on Tibet supporting Dalai Lama’s pleas for Tibet’s autonomy and demilitarization subject to Beijing’s overall sovereignty.

No policy is there for all time to come. Nations need to change policies, taking into account important changes in the situation prevailing at a particular time.  After all China also did a volte face with regard to her policy on the status of J&K in order to needle India and encourage Pakistan.  There is nothing wrong in New Delhi taking a stand that, in the light of her experience with the Chinese occupation of Tibet, systematic border violations and suppression of the Tibetan population and their replacement by Hans, India no longer supports China’s military occupation of Tibet.

Beijing must negotiate with the Dalai Lama and allow him and his fugitive government to return to Tibet on honourable terms. Unfortunately, the recent US-China joint communiqué, suggesting Chinese mediation in Indo-Pak dispute has come as a damper. It is uncalled for and invalid.  How President Obama was tricked into signing this remains mysterious. Neither the US nor China had any business to arrogate to Beijing some sort of super power status. India will never accept this and its Foreign Ministry has already reacted strongly. Kashmir is an Indo-Pak dispute, and there is no case for any third party mediation. Happily, there was no reference to this communiqué during Dr. Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Washington.

China’s support to the Maoists, wherever they are, has been suspected all along. What is very new is the confession of some of the ULFA leaders, now in custody, that they received lot of financial assistance, military hardware and training in China. It is necessary that our government confronts Beijing with all this evidence and seek its explanation. Even the dissident groups in Nagaland receive support from China and openly admit it. Thus, in the face of such overwhelming evidence, India cannot afford to treat China in the same spirit as in the good old days of ‘Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai’.

We have to confront China boldly with all instances of open encouragement to dissident elements inside India and at the same time try to seek international support. Unfortunately, China’s economy has prospered beyond all expectations. Significantly, the US economy has become inter-linked with China’s economy. For 60 per cent of China’s exports are to the US and 2/3rd of China’s foreign exchange is tucked in the US as treasury bills. Thus, in dealing with China one cannot expect that the US will not come to its support. This is an unfortunate development of modern times. But there is hope. There are other countries, European, who can come to support India’s stand. –INFA

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

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