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Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

Countering China's High-Altitude Land Grab
Indian PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Twitter
  • China has been effectively using its civilians and consequently army troops to further its expansion into the Indian soil
  • India has failed to deter China and it is crucial for the Indian government to adopt a new stance so as to counter the aggression
  • Strengthening the border police exploring the vast number of economic opportunities will send a powerful message to China

June 17, 2017:

This article is influenced by Brahma Chellaney’s article “Countering China’s High-Altitude Land Grab” published in Project Syndicate. Mr. Chellaney is the Professor of Strategic Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. He has also authored nine books. 

The Sino-Indian War of 1962 resulted in India’s loss and China extending its territory inside the Indian border. There may have been no war between the two countries since then, however, the relationship has not improved either.

China and India compete for regional hegemony, aside from China’s regular aggression in the sea and land which makes the South Asian region under constant threat and insecurity. The smaller nations in the region worry as the two largest nations compete.

“For decades, Asia’s two giants have fought a bulletless war for territory along their high-altitude border,” says Chellaney. In his detailed article, the author also says that China is continuing its dream of expansion and “eating away” India’s Himalayan Borderland.

Mr. Chellaney estimates that on an average, China launches one stealth incursion in India in 24 hours. The People’s Liberation Army, the armed forces of the Communist Party of China, is highly active at the border. They seek ways to intrude into the vacant Indian territory with the intention of occupation.

A former official with the Indian Intelligence Bureau said that over the last decade, China has successfully gained an estimated 2,000 square kilometers.

In his article, the author has also elaborated China’s strategy that has been so advantageous. China uses civilian resources at sea in the form of fishermen. Chinese naval forces then push into the ocean and claim the part of the sea. Similarly, on land, Chinese civilians in the form of herders, farmers, and grazers are taken advantage of. Once these civilians have settled in the vacant land, the troops enter the area and establish their encampments. It is indeed remarkable how without firing a bullet China is meeting its objectives.

Although Chinese aggression in the South China Sea has garnered criticism and warnings both from the United States and International Court while the same cannot be said for its aggression on the land. China’s land expansion has gone unnoticed. There is no fuss about it even from the Indian leaders. It seems that Indian ministers are satisfied as long as there are no shots fired from either side.

Chellaney illustrates two worthy examples of this. First, current PM Narendra Modi, recently stated in Russia that even though the two countries have border issues, it is remarkable that not a single bullet has been fired. The foreign ministry of China acknowledges Modi’s “positive comments”.

Secondly, former PM Manmohan Singh has also used this rhetoric when he claimed that the 1962 war with China was the only war the two countries have fought since their 5,000-year history. “What this rose-tinted history failed to acknowledge was that China and India became neighbors only after China annexed the buffer Tibet in 1951,” writes Chellaney.

What the author suggests in his article is for India to adopt a different strategy, having been on the defensive stance for so many years. PM Modi’s narrative of border peace is not as strong to deter the plans of PLA or China.

Bilateral Ties
Bilateral Ties between India and China. Twitter

In Modi’s tenure alone, China has experienced fast-growing trade surplus with India. In fact, it has doubled to almost $60 billion. This boosted China’s confidence, and unfortunately, their assertiveness. Since there is no clear distinction between the Indian territory and the Chinese territory, any incursion by Chinese troops into India is justified by the Chinese as PLA operating on their land. The promise to exchange maps with India in 2001 but that promise was never met.

India’s reluctant yet agreed bilateral ties have furthered PLA’s objectives of functioning in Indian territory.

The rising China is not only assertive on the land and sea but in the financial sphere a well. Chellaney notes how over the decade the country has become the largest trading and investment partner for almost all Asian economies. China is also trusted by the neighbors for “regional security and transport connectivity”. However, as PM Modi has emphasized on multiple occasions, India has a wide scope full of opportunities for India to delve into financial matters of the region.

Also Read: China emerges as one of the fastest-growing sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India

India’s priority should also strengthen its border security to counter PLA incursions. The country’s Indo-Tibetan Border Police commanded by the Home Ministry is under-resourced. It is “a little more than a doorman”. It is essential to train and equip these units under the command of the army to signal China that India is changing its stance. China is more than capable of responding to that with more than just words, while the Indian border police don’t even carry weapons. “With such a docile response, China has been able to do as it pleases along India’s northern frontier,” points out Chellaney. He cites the example of Chinese support to Pakistani military in Kashmir area.

Thus, it is safe to criticize India’s soft tone and accommodating nature. Ending these incursions should be of prime importance to India if it wants Himalayan Peace. Self-praising that there have been no bullets from either side does not amount to India’s borders being secured. We need strengthened security and not what may be sincere words.

By Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394


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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

United nations
India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

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China pays Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, Celebrates Gandhi Jayanti in Beijing

Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi

Beijing, Oct 02: China on Monday celebrated the 148th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, with the India Embassy in Beijing releasing commemorative postage stamps on the Ramayana.

Many Chinese nationals offered flowers to a statue of Gandhi at Beijing’s Chaoyang Park, while school children recited his famous quotes in Mandarin on a nippy overcast day.

“Gandhiji looked forward to a day when a free India and a free China could cooperate in friendship and brotherhood for their own good and for the benefit of Asia and the World,” Wilson Babu, Charge D’Affaires at the Indian embassy, said.

“Leaders of our two countries have been striving to build strong India-China relations based on Gandhiji’s ideals of world peace and respect for all human beings.”

In Shanghai, the Indian Consulate organised a series of events including a memorial lecture, screening of a documentary film and a painting completion for children of the Indian community.

Mahatma Gandhi has become increasingly popular in China, with many Chinese researchers studying his ideology of non-violence.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar in Gujarat to Putlibai and Karamchand Gandhi. (IANS)