Five decades ago, on October 7, 1966, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had openly asserted at the press conference on October 7, 1966 that India was committed to protect Bhutan from China. Today, a serious situation is developing at Doklam (also called Donglang), which is part of Bhutan, but is also claimed by China. It is located at a tri-junction of India, Tibet and Bhutan and is close to the 14000 feet high Nathu La pass, through which China has blocked this year’s Kailash Mansoravar Yatra, which was much hyped by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi as ‘his government’s gift of a second route for millions of Shiva Bhakts.’
A very delicate and extremely serious situation is developing at the Chinese boundary adjoining Sikkim. A month-long standoff between the Indian Army and the Chinese Army has taken place- this is the longest standoff between India and China in last 55 years (since 1962) According to media reports, China has destroyed 2 bunkers of the Indian Army at Doklam plateau. There are two key Chinese objectives in initiating the Doklam standoff. First, it seems to be testing India’s resolve to stand by its long-cherished friend Bhutan and secondly, China is fostering an aggressive attitude towards the delicate and strategic ‘Chicken Neck’ which connects the rest of India to the northeast.
Since the day, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi swung in a “Jhoola” and relished “Dhokla” in Ahmadabad, Gujarat with his Chinese counterpart, China has time and again proceeded to break the land boundary agreement which the then Congress-UPA Government had entered into in 2005 and later signed by both the heads of the state in 2013.
1) Line of Actual Control in the India-China border areas, signed in April 2005 and
2) Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, signed in October 2013,
Also, India has underlined that the two Governments had in 2012 reached agreement that the tri-junction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalized in consultation with the concerned countries. Any attempt, therefore, to unilaterally determine tri-junction points is in violation of this understanding. We must not forget the fact that Chinese incursions have continuously increased under the BJP Government.
1. In the past 45 days, 120 Chinese Incursions have taken place, while 240 such incursions have taken place till this month in 2017.
2. The much hyped second route of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via Nathu La stopped suddenly by China has dealt a severe blow to India’s diplomatic image. Despite the Chinese Army destroying the facilities built for the Indian pilgrims, the BJP Government did not pay any heed to the miseries of the pilgrims, till they started posting videos and pictures of the Chinese Army’s destroying them. The stoic silence and inaction by the BJP Government is for all of us to see.
3. On June 4, 2017: Two Chinese Army choppers violated the Indian airspace, by hovering over Chamoli district. On previous occasions, Chinese helicopters had entered 4.5 kilometres into Indian territory, an area that China claims as its own in Barahoti ,Uttarakhand
4. Border disputes with China have again reached center stage with repeated breaches and incursions by the Chinese forces along the international border; However, in March , this year – the MoS Defence in a written reply to the Parliament says that there were “No Chinese Incursions, Only Transgressions”
5. Earlier Home Minister, Rajnath Singh has said, that “Chinese Intrusion are only Perception”
There have been multiple occasions where this BJP Government has failed to secure India’s National Interests, viz-a-viz China:
1. China vetoes declaration of Masood Azhar as an ‘international terrorist’ under Pakistan’s pressure
2. China blocks India’s membership of ‘Nuclear Suppliers Group’ asking for parity with rogue Pakistan.
3. China opposes India’s membership of UN Security Council.
4. On Dec 19, 2016; Russia extended support to China-Pak Economic Corridor & expressed intent to connect it with Eurasian Economic Union.
5. China – Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) worth $54 billion built through PoK/Balochistan connecting Gwadar Port in Arabian Sea to China with base for Chinese submarines- Does it not compromise India’s Sovereign right over POK & affect our strategic interests?
6. China renames six places in Arunachal Pradesh on its official map.
7. Nepal accusing the Government of India of interference in its domestic matters.
8. Sri Lankan Government refusing to sign the comprehensive Economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with India. China-sponsored infrastructure developments in neighboring Sri Lanka offer an instructive lesson. Numerous infrastructure projects, negotiated in secret by the former Sri Lankan government of Mahinda Rajapaksa, saddled the Sri Lankan treasury with debts to China estimated at some $8 billion. Sri Lanka cannot repay what it owes, so it has negotiated a debt-for-equity swap of the Hambantota Port project.
9. India is feeling increasingly isolated on its stand with respect to the grandiose One Belt, One Road (OBOR) imitative by China, which hosted Russian President, Vladimir Putin as its chief guest. The general perception amongst experts is that India could have been a part of the initial meetings and then shown its strident opposition to China and Pakistan constructing road through Gilgit-Baltistan- an integral part of India.
China has exponentially expanded strategic, economic & defense partnerships with Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This maximalist position of China to encircle India and cramp its strategic space has been highlighted time and again by strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney.
It is pertinent to note that, during PM Modi’s recent visit to the United States, he did not raise any issue which affected India-China relations. Be it China stalling India’s entry into the NSG or China blocking Masood Azhar’s name to be declared as a ‘global terrorist.
The UPA- Congress Govt approved the raising of ‘Mountain Strike Corps’ along the China border with 90,274 additional soldiers at a cost of Rs 64,678 Crore . After the BJP came to power, it has put this project into deep freezer. This Mountain Strike Corps could have been useful in today’s standoff, but the BJP has lost this opportunity.
This is what happens when you appoint either a ‘Reluctant’ Defence Minister or a ‘Part Time’ Defence Minister