INDIA’S SOFT RESPONSE TO CHINESE ASSERTIVENESS

Published on IntelliBriefs, by B. Raman, Nov. 6, 2010.

The Government of India has sought to play down the worrisome implications of China’s new policy on Kashmir favouring Pakistan, its growing strategic presence in the Gilgit-Baltistan area of Pakistan-Occupies Kashmir (POK), its disinclination to give up its claims to the Indian territory of Arunachal Pradesh and its strengthening of its military-related capabilities in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region TAR. 

2. The strengthening of its military-related capabilities in the TAR has been in the form of a further upgradation of its highway network, the construction of more airports ostensibly to meet civilian needs, the extension of the railway line from Lhasa towards the border with Nepal and Arunachal Pradesh with plans for the ultimate construction of a railway link-up with Nepal and military exercises involving various units of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), including the Air Force and strategic artillery units. Among the objectives of these exercises are to fine-tune their capability to fight jointly against an adversary at high altitudes, strategic operations of the Air Force involving long-distance flights with mid-air refueling and the reliability of its strategic missiles at high altitudes … //

… 10. As against its anger against Japan and irritation against Vietnam, the Chinese leadership is happy with the lack of an energetic response from the Government of India. This has enabled the Chinese to go ahead with their activities detrimental to India without having to face adverse attention from the international community.

11. While the keenness of the Manmohan Singh Government to maintain the seeming cordiality and momentum in the relations with China is understandable, its soft response to Chinese activities which could prove detrimental to Indian interests and security could prove counter-productive and could ultimately lead us to a military confrontation, however much we may want to avoid it. Softness in response has been the defining characteristic of our policies towards Pakistan and China. They are both taking advantage of our reluctance to respond energetically to undermine our security. An energetic response need not necessarily be in the form of a slanging match with Beijing. It ought to be in the form of a crash programme to strengthen our defence capabilities against China and building up a network of strategic relationships with countries such as Japan and Vietnam. The hopes entertained by many of us that Dr.Manmohan Singh would avail of his recent visits to Japan and Vietnam for this purpose in a manner that would convey an unmistakable message to Beijing have been belied. ( 5-11-10). (full text).

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. His e-mail).

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