Is India awakening to China’s Sharp Power?
China is an authoritative regime. They displayed dominance first in Hong-Kong, negotiated vested interests with Pakistan through CPEC, and embraced Bangladesh in trade last week. China is using every possible option to tactically exert its supremacy worldwide. Is it a worrying sign for India? Raja Muneeb believes that India has a crucial role to play in the new turn of events in the geopolitical theatre.
The violent clash which erupted between the Chinese and the Indian soldiers at the edge of Galwan Valley on the night of 15th June is the bloodiest since 1967. 20 Indian soldiers, including a Commanding officer have lost their lives and nearly a hundred more were injured when PLA soldiers attacked them barbarically. Ten Indian soldiers were also taken captive and released days later after high-level talks took place between the senior military officials of both sides. This is a brazen violation of rules of engagement by China which bars both sides from using military strength to resolve the border dispute.
After the Indo-China war of 1962, both sides have claimed the areas under the LAC. As of now, there are 23 flashpoints which are recognised by both sides as disputed. The soldiers from both sides patrol the contested areas for area domination. Most of the “Grey Areas” where both sides routinely send out patrols remain disputed. The status quo was maintained by both sides till last month but it seems to be quickly changing now after the violent clash at the Galwan Valley.
This year the strategic locations at Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso and Hot springs, have seen Chinese intrusions. Satellite images also indicate a massive military build-up by the PLA along the LAC. In Pangong Tso the contested area between the two sides is a wide stretch (approx. 30 Kms). The Chinese have been intruding in this area aggressively since 2017. They even constructed a road on the Indian side of LAC for tactical movement. The Chinese have built up new bases along the LAC, effectively blocking any possibility of the Indian side to patrol or to stake any further claim to the disputed area. Subsequently, the Chinese side has also staked claim to the entire Galwan valley which falls under the Indian side of LAC.
This confrontation is going to be a long drawn one now for both countries. Indian army will dig deep against the PLA thwarting any further advance. India has already accelerated the pace of its own strategic infrastructure build-up along LAC thus sending a clear message to the Chinese side on its intent to defend its territorial integrity. The outright war doesn’t favour both nations and is an unlikely probability in the near future.
This standoff is a serious provocation and a threat to the sovereignty of India and cannot be seen as an isolated incident or any random border clash. China is behaving as an expansionist imperial force in the entire world. Bullying India on its borders, intruding Taiwanese airspace, aggressively manoeuvring in South China sea, thereby threatening the sovereignty of Japan, Philippines, Vietnam on one end and using North Korea as its ally to threaten South Korea and the US on the other, eyeing Central Asia through CPEC by cutting a deal with Pakistan and abetting terrorism in the region, are some of the facts that indicate that China wants to exert its dominance globally. Unleashing the Wuhan virus is the part of the new aggressive plan that the Chinese have undertaken to set up a new global dominance role. Its aggression towards India also stems from its ambitious CPEC project as it wants to wrest maximum control of Jammu and Kashmir. Much of the CPEC passes through Gilgit Baltistan area, which Pakistan occupied by force and has illegally handed over to China.
At this critical juncture, India needs to quickly revisit its policy for strategic cooperation. It has to do away with the self-defeating Non-Alignment policy and form a strong alliance with the US and its allies in South Asia. India has a crucial role to play in this new geopolitical theatre. It should lead the counter-charge against the Chinese hegemony by officially calling out the One-China Principle. G7 summit scheduled to be held in September this year provides India and the allies with an opportunity to debunk One-China Principle.
Recognizing Taiwan can be the first step towards the new policy. India should set up a cultural and trade centre in Taipei and look to build sound cultural and trade exchange mechanisms thus gaining more leverage. India should also encourage the US to open its consulate again in Taiwan which was shut down in 1979 after the US accepted One China Policy. India, along with other G7 countries should levy heavy taxes on Chinese imports and simultaneously should set up free trade agreements with Taiwan. It can emerge as a new market zone for India and the world, thus effectively cutting away Chinese industrial domination.
India also needs to revisit its Himalayan policy and undo its previous Tibet Policy. Declaring Tibet as an occupied country by India and its allies will have serious ramifications for China. The US has already taken a step in this direction as one of its Senator Scott Perry has introduced a bill to declare Tibet as an occupied country. India should also give greater international diplomatic access to the Tibetan government in exile. Additionally, India should also focus on active efforts to maintain a strong relationship with Russia and Afghanistan. Pakistan and Chinese nefarious designs to use terrorism as a tool to reach desired objectives in that region should be countered strongly.
India and the allies also need to move to UNSC with a new resolution which should call for an end to the illegal occupation of China on Raksam and Shaksgam valley a part of Gilgit Baltistan, which was illegally handed over to them by Pakistan. The veracity of such transaction, given the fact that it is a disputed territory should be an issue that is taken up internationally in order to contest China’s aggressive claims and dubious intentions behind the same.