Recently there was a Trade Exhibition in one of the Metro cities of Bharat. The exhibition was organised by Chinese Embassy and over 120 companies from China participated in it. The board at the entrance itself had huge board with the list of all companies, their products and contact details – In Chinese at the top, then in English, Hindi and Gujarati! Well designed but simple stalls displayed the products and smiling Chinese there handed out company brochures only after one gives them a business card. All Chinese on all stalls spoke immaculate English, Hindi and Gujarati. And, yes, there was also a big board outside: No Housewives or Casual Visitors allowed in. Chinese meant business.
Chinese always mean business – be it Trade or war or intrusion. They plan and do everything with surgical precision. In 1962 war of a month of Oct 20 to Nov 20, China occupied Bharat’s 38,000 square kms land at the North-East fighting with ill-trained, isolated Indian soldiers 3000 meters above sea level, the Chinese bombed Tawang and surrounding area, rocked it with mortar shells and sprayed it with gun fire when Indian Government was speaking of ‘India-China Bhai Bhai’.
And this is the perennial problem with India’s external policy about border security or domestic safety. We keep on treating enemies as friends, brothers while they are firm on their enmity and even overtly show it too. China, Pakistan, Bangladesh… The list is growing.
China has been eyeing Bharat since history. In 1872 four monarchs landed in Bharat from China and toured entire Bharat. In not much older history, we get references of the Chinese ‘tourist’ Huen Tse Tung touring Bharat from Kashmir to Kashi and from Kaamroop (Assam) to Kanya Kumaari! He has written graphic descriptions of even the smallest geographical details in Bharat. He also has detailed Bharat’s food habits, different times when people rest in different areas, situation of walkways and river routes etc. He drew sketches. Have we ever heard of an Indian tourist going to China and detailing such things in recent history? Our Rishis (sages) used to travel and write long descriptions but that was in ancient times. We have yet not studied their detailed descriptions of various territories.
China’s geo-political ambitions are not hidden. China has a territorial occupation strategy which is known as ‘String of Pearls’. Like a string of pearls that looks like a choker around the neck, here China has been ‘choking’ India with its stations surrounding India from at least three sides. The string of Pearls strategy by China includes 1) Ports and Airfields surrounding India 2) Developing special diplomatic relationship with small and big countries around India and 3) modernising military forces.
China has been successful in extending from South China Sea through the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean to the Arabian Gulf. Some say that China started working on it since 1980 in a concrete way but there are many who have information that even in early seventies China had started building road in Pak Occupied Kashmir after 1965 Bharat-Pak war. This road connects China with Gilgit and through Neelam Valley. It has tunnels and bridges. Then China built Karakoram Highway connecting China’s Xinjiang region with Pakistan’s North. This road is considered to be a 9th wonder of the world being on the highest altitude and it has been completed in 1986.
The bigger blow to India came in when China commissioned Hambantota Port in Southern Sri Lanka. Its construction began in 2011 (this means the negotiations and diplomatic manipulations began much earlier). This $1b project is fast in progress and is scheduled to complete much before its declared year 2023.
In Pakistan too, China now has a port – Gwadar – on the Mekran Coast in Balochistan. The 1st phase is already complete. This port gives China much needed storage of Aviation Fuel.
Our Army, Navy and Air Force and Intelligence agencies may have much more info than this. Issue is not the details; but the vulnerability it gives to India and the strength it gives to China. It helps other enemy countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh whereas supports not so friendly countries like Sri Lanka. India’s North Eastern region is surrounded by three countries that are vulnerable and weak – Nepal, Myanmar and Bhutan. None of these have done much to help India keep China away. India has not taken concrete steps re these countries to counter China’s moves through them.
China has no qualms in doing what they are doing. They have gained increased energy security with refueling stations throughout the world – at least three sides of India – 4th not yet known to us. While 38,000 square kms of India’s North East is still occupied by China since 1962, even in 2007 China intruded 20 kms further in Tawang and 8 kms in Taksing in Upper Subansiri district. Heavy army mobilisation by China in PoK has already been noticed. Latest intrusion in Leh-Ladakh region of Daulatbeg-Oldie sector is really not latest. The local tribes had already noticed it much earlier and had alerted the authorities as well.
But being in constant state of denial has become a habit of our government. Pakistan intrudes, beheads our army men, Bangladesh infiltrators reach all the way to Andhra and Maharashtra but our Government simply denies any such thing initially. Then when the truth is out, the Government trivialise the serious issues. China has put up the 5th tent in Leh-Ladakh and demands that Indian troops be withdrawn from the region, Indian bunkers should be demolished and India should stop infrastructure build up there! Indian Government says, ‘It is usual’. Yes, it is business as usual for China because China has been marching ahead from all sides with a specific strategy and a concrete action plan to support it. Not that India does not have war experts or international diplomacy experts. But being reactive when it is too late rather than being proactive in time is India. Many Governments came and gone. China marches ahead strengthening weak small countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bhutan etc. Where there was Russia’s strong navy base, now there is China. After the American and NATO troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan, China’s stations all over near there will help China control the region.
India’s efforts to make stronghold in South Asia are meek – in economy and in security. We have seen just a glimpse of how dangerous India’s borders from three sides have become vis-à-vis China, even in economy, India is far behind China. Chinese economy was $2 trillion in 2002. Now it is strong at $9 trillion whereas India has now reached $2 trillion mark – a decade behind China. Five years back India had reached a $ trillion. China has not only intruded various times various places at borders but China has intruded Indian households with nail-cutters to plastic, electronic equipment, food, cutlery and even Vaastu with Feng Shui!
China’s weapons are found with Maoists that have turned Chittisgadh, North East, Odisha, Bengal, parts of Maharashtra etc into war zones where day in and day out Indian military and Para-military forces are brutally killed. But Government does not accept the nexus of Maoists / Naxalites with China, Pakistan and to some extent church endangering India’s domestic safety too.
Rather than discussing what happened, most important now is to ruthlessly analyse why it happened and immediately work on it diligently. No vote bank politics will work here. One party blaming other and the other party either sulking or giving weak defense will not help in India’s security. It is a scary situation for the citizens. If the government at Centre and all political parties cannot handle it efficiently before it is too late, then they should retire and hand over the nation to professionals in various fields like international diplomacy, infrastructure engineering, people/military mobilisation, various emergency services and also safety and security.
(The writer is a Surgical Oncologist (Cancer Surgeon) and International Working President of VHP. He can be contacted at [email protected])