The China-Pakistan nexus has naturally led to anxiety about China’s future intentions. While capabilities take decades to develop, intentions can change overnight. India should concentrate its energies on developing its economy and building its military capabilities in order to face up to the Chinese challenge.
The relationship between China and India will be one of the most important of this century. Their interactions will help to determine the future of globalization, international institutions, and U.S. power. Their ability to cooperate will be crucial on international issues ranging from climate change to multilateral trade negotiations. Yet for all of its future significance, the relationship remains stuck in the past.
Through history, China and India have not been neighbours. The current de facto border has its genesis in a line drawn on a map by Henry McMahon during a secret treaty between Britain and Tibet in March 1914. Both entities, British India and Tibet, are no more: one has been transformed into postcolonial India and the other was occupied and colonised by communist China. Yet India and China, both of whom have overthrown the mantle of Western imperialism, are jostling over the same imperialists’ line – and have completely militarised and destroyed the traditional zone of contact that the border regions were.
What Indians do not so readily acknowledge is that we also have a CoK problem in addition to the PoK one. CoK is China-occupied Kashmir, and this part of real estate grabbed un China accounts for nearly a fifth of the original Jammu & Kashmir state that joined the Indian Union in 1948 after its Maharaja Hari Singh signing the instrument of accession.
After decades of pursuing Pakistan-centric war planning, the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force are recalibrating their sights towards the hitherto neglected northern frontiers with China, giving a hard push to improving its war-fighting capabilities against its more powerful neighbour and at the same time, increasing on-the-ground interaction with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
A half-century after the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the border between China and India remains undefined and a constant source of friction between the world’s two most populous countries. Following three weeks of fighting in 1962, it was agreed to draw a Line of Actual Control (LAC). But, five decades later, the map has yet to be delineated.
Li’s objective is to tell wary Indians that they have nothing to fear from their powerful neighbor to the north, despite everything you’ve heard about China trying to intimidate India over disputed borders. The goal is to woo India away from the U.S. “China is trying to sell hard the idea of an independent foreign policy,” says Srikanth Kondapalli, professor in Chinese Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. “Which means creating kinds of enclaves and not joining the U.S. bandwagon.”
A fortnight after Chinese troops ended their incursion into the Depsang valley in Ladakh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Monday asked their Special Representatives (SRs) to consider more measures that may be needed to maintain peace and tranquility along the border.