At the meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group held at Berne in Switzerland on 22 and 23 June 2017 China has been successful in blocking India’s admission to the Group. China insisted that the group must formulate the criteria for admission of new members before permitting new members to enter the group. China would like India and Pakistan to be members of the group which does not make much sense viewing Pakistan’s track record with respect to nuclear weapons.
Overall the assertiveness flows from the Chinese view that they are correct in whatever they think and the other countries must act in consonance to their wishes.
The next issue is the current transgression by China in the Doklam area which is at the tri junction of the Sikkim China Bhutan border. The Chinese were constructing a road in the area and had knocked down two bunkers of India. This happened as per reports around 16 June about 10 days before Prime Minister’s United States visit. The issue resulted in jostling between troops of both countries and finally China has stopped Indian pilgrims visiting Kailash Mansarovar through the Nathu la pass. Doklam is in close proximity to a strategic area called the Chickens Neck. This area enables connectivity between the North East portions of India with the rest of the country. Currently there is massive deployment of troops by both countries.
The last time such a standoff took place was in 1967 and India strongly resisted the Chinese at Nathu la.
After 50 years the Chinese have again transgressed into Indian and Bhutanese Territory as also the Chinese press have reminded India of 1962 little realising that the Indian Army is capable of standing up and combating the Chinese in their efforts to creep closer to the strategic Chicken’s neck area. While this issue was on the Chinese have undertaken another transgression in the Barahoti Area of Chamoli District in Uttara Khand. This incidentally has occurred around the third week of July 2017, prior to our National Security Advisor Shri Ajit Dovals meeting with Chinese authorities during the BRICS Summit in Beijing on 26 and 27 July 201`7.
Despite the ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration and warnings from the current United States administration China continues to improve its military infrastructure in the disputed islands of the South China Sea. Over the past three months, China has built four missile shelters on Fiery Cross Reef enhancing the total number of installations to 12 according to satellite images. China has also improved its surveillance capabilities by establishing radar facilities on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs. The infrastructure being rapidly constructed by the Chinese would enable them to constantly monitor aircraft and ships in the South China Sea. This enables the Chinese Navy to operate from the First Island chain making it convenient for posturing in the South China Sea.
China professes peace but believes in Chairman Mao Ze Dong’s dictum that “Power flows from the barrel of a Gun.”
The dispute over the Senkaku islands continues and meanwhile Chinese officials have adopted an assertive stand during their meetings with other countries. General Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission visited Vietnam on 18 June and met Vietnamese dignitaries. He stated China’s cooperation in the One Belt One Road issue. The General reaffirmed China’s stance in the South China Sea issue and stressed that the islands are Chinese territory from ancient times. The Vietnamese claim these islands and the issue need to be deliberated and resolved.
The 20th anniversary of Hongkong becoming a Special Administrative Region is being celebrated. Chinese President Xi Jinping clearly warned people of Hong Kong that threat to Chinese security and sovereignty will not be tolerated. He was explicit in drawing a red line on this issue and warned people not to challenge the authority of the Chinese Government.
Overall the assertiveness flows from the Chinese view that they are correct in whatever they think and the other countries must act in consonance to their wishes. They are not prepared to consider views of other countries and are prepared to use their diplomatic and military muscle to achieve their aims. The Chinese dream which President Xi Jinping often refers deals with Strength and Wealth both of which they are all out to achieve with their economic and military strength.
Steps to be taken
China professes peace but believes in Chairman Mao Ze Dong’s dictum that “Power flows from the barrel of a Gun.” Henry Kissinger has stated for peace and stability there is a need for a hegemon or there must be a balance of power. In the current case geopolitically China is challenging India, Vietnam and Japan. These nations must stand up to the Chinese challenge diplomatically and not bow down to Chinese transgressions. The United States must play an active role in this region. While the United States is increasing the pressure on China with regard to North Korea, it must be able to stabilise other issues in the region.
China needs to be met on equal terms and India must stand its ground at the NSG meetings, at Doklam and with rights to navigation in the India Pacific.
As regards military activism in Sikkim, the Indian Defence Minister has given a stern reply that 55 years have elapsed since 1962 and India has pointed out on 01 July that in 2012, the two Governments reached an agreement that the tri junction boundary points will be finalised in consultation with concerned countries. These issues are discussed by the Special Representatives of India and China and it would be prudent to show restraint. The current discussions between the two Strategic Representatives have yielded no result.
Despite the diplomatic statements India must strengthen its vigil on both the Chinese and the Pakistan borders and not lower its guard. India’s Prime Minister met the Chinese President during the G 20 summit which was held in Hamburg on 07 and 08 July 2017. Despite the meeting the status remains unchanged. Ex Malabar between The United States, Japan and India has just successfully concluded. China has always been suspicious of the trilateral exercise and lodged protests over Japanese participation. India has also been exercising with the Australian Navy and it appears that the next round of Malabar exercises may possibly include Australia. Thus a Quad would be formed to safeguard navigation rights in the Indo Pacific region.
China needs to be met on equal terms and India must stand its ground at the NSG meetings, at Doklam and with rights to navigation in the India Pacific. The Chinese respect strength and will behave appropriately provided we are prepared for combat if the situation demands. At Doklam preparations must be made if needed to continue in winter under extreme cold conditions.