Border security issues must dominate Chinese PM’s visit – G. Parthasarathy

Chinese PM Li Keqiang & Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid in Beijing.

G. Parthasarathy“The time has come for China to stop obfuscating and to spell out precisely where, in its view, the Line of Actual Control lies. China should be told that in our view the Line of Control on the Ladakh-Tibet boundary lies in the Karakoram Mountains, up to the Indus River Watershed. The LAC we are defining is, therefore, along “well-defined and easily identifiable natural geographical features” that Prime Ministers Wen Jiabao and Dr Manmohan Singh concluded in 2005. The way we virtually capitulated after the recent Chinese incursion has only set the precedent for an assertive and aggressive China to keep us in a constant military disadvantage in Ladakh.” – G. Parthasarathy

Manmohan Singh & Wen JiabaoThe recent intrusion of Chinese forces in Depsang in the Ladakh sector should mark a turn in the entire style and substance of Indian diplomacy in dealing with threats posed by China to India’s border, water, cyber, nuclear and energy security. The visit of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on May 20 is a good occasion to get this process started.

China’s assertiveness on its land and maritime border claims on neighbours like Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and India has grown significantly in recent years, with an increasing readiness by China to use force to enforce its claims. First and foremost, China should be asked to reaffirm its commitment to the “Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Border Question” that Prime Ministers Wen Jiabao and Dr Manmohan Singh signed in 2005. It was then agreed that in resolving differences over the border issue, the Sino-Indian boundary would be along “well-defined and easily identifiable natural geographical features” and that “interests of their settled populations” in the border areas should be safeguarded. China should be told its claims to the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh and refusal to treat its population as Indian citizens are unacceptable and that we could review our policies on Chinese citizens in Tibet and Xinjiang, if they persist. China even seeks to unnerve us by protesting about visits by Indian dignitaries to Arunachal Pradesh and tries to block foreign assistance for development projects there.

India China Border DisputeSimilarly, in Ladakh, where we have dismantled military structures in Chumar on our territory and even pulled back forces from our territory following the recent Chinese incursion, the time has come for China to stop obfuscating and to spell out precisely where, in its view, the Line of Actual Control lies. China should be told that in our view the Line of Control on the Ladakh-Tibet boundary lies in the Karakoram Mountains, up to the Indus River Watershed. The LAC we are defining is, therefore, along “well-defined and easily identifiable natural geographical features” that Prime Ministers Wen Jiabao and Dr Manmohan Singh concluded in 2005. The way we virtually capitulated after the recent Chinese incursion has only set the precedent for an assertive and aggressive China to keep us in a constant military disadvantage in Ladakh.

A similar approach has characterised our dealing with increasing Chinese use of the waters of the River Brahmaputra. Unlike India, China unilaterally utilises river waters as an upper riparian State. It refuses to provide any advance intimation of upstream dams it builds on the Mekong River. It brushes aside concerns of lower riparian members of the Mekong River Commission—Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Overawed by Chinese power, some lower riparian States avoid challenging it on this issue. While making it clear to Premier Li Keqiang that we expect transparency and advance intimation on Chinese hydro-electric projects on Brahmaputra, we Does the dragon have the tiger by the tail?should seek and obtain sovereign and internationally binding assurances from China that the Brahmaputra waters will not be diverted. Members of the Mekong River Commission and Bangladesh should be co-opted in this effort.

One hopes that the forthcoming visit of the Chinese premier would be used as the first occasion for India to voice its concerns at the highest political level, about the dangerous and destabilising impact of China’s transfer of nuclear weapons and missile data, equipment and designs to Pakistan on our national security, and on global non-proliferation efforts. China is viewed with concerns globally, over its offensive capabilities to undermine the cyber security of others. We should seek Chinese cooperation and transfer of technology for building indigenous capabilities in the electronics, communications and power sectors. More importantly, Japan and even Taiwan need to be persuaded and incentivised for investment in building these indigenous capabilities and reducing our dependence on China. All this will require more proactive diplomacy across our eastern neighbourhood. – The New Indian Express, 19 May 20113

» Parthasarathy is a former diplomat. Contact him at dadpartha@gmail.com.

Chumur Monastery

Chumar Buddhist Monastery: Isolated and desolate

See also

  1. Chinese aspirations and Indian interests – Subramanian Swamy
  2. Neglecting National Interest: From Nehru to Sonia-G – N.S. Rajaram
  3. Ladakh Debacle: Indian Union rudderless under UPA government – Gautam Sen

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