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Under “Cold Peace” with China, India authorities Must show patience, political firmness – analyst

09:45 | 27.04.2015 | Analytic

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27 April 2015. PenzaNews. The “Cold Peace” between India and the People’s Republic of China that became established due to several diplomatic and territorial disputes demands the New Delhi officials to be politically stern, patient and alert, thinks Subhash Kapila, political analyst, South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG) consultant in international relations and strategic affairs, in his article titled “China’s India-Policy; Deciphering China’s long range intentions,” published in the foreign media.

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At present, he notes, many high-standing Indians are unfoundedly optimistic towards possible development of positive relations with Beijing.

“Regrettably, when Indian political leaders and their security advisers talk of an ‘orbital jump’ in China-India relations or ‘out-of-box’ solutions on long-shelved territorial disputes by China, both entities seem oblivious to China’s long range intentions pertaining to India. To those in India who constantly harp on peaceful relations with China, one can only point out that such assertions are admirable at seminars but when measured against China’s intentions as manifested on the borders with Tibet, such assertions do not pass the test of credibility,” Subhash Kapila writes.

From his point of view, the attitude towards New-Delhi in Beijing is based on several unflattering conclusions and preconceptions. In particular, the Chinese think the Indian authorities have no political will or experience and are unable to openly disagree with their Eastern neighbors; the diplomats are more likely to hush the current issues and concede; and the Indian army in the neighboring territories is so poorly equipped, it might be unable to repel a potential invasion.

“China’s current India policy stands fixated on keeping India off-balanced strategically, politically and militarily,” the author states.

In his opinion, to achieve this, the Chinese leaders are exploiting numerous economical and political means of influence and taking an adamant stance in the current issues, all backed up and supported by continuous growth of the military, finance and culture of the PRC.

According to the SAAG consultant, one of the means of influence on New-Delhi is Beijing’s reluctance to cooperate in Indian industry investment.

“The Indian Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] is looking forward to make gains in the economic relations by attracting Chinese FDI in India’s infrastructure sector in the absence of any headway on the border and territorial disputes. […] Media reports suggest that China is not receptive to this Indian approach and insist that any momentum in China-India relations can only be made by intertwining both political and economic issues. So that is a brake on India’s economic expectations from China,” the researcher claims, saying his conclusions are backed up by numerous statements of Chinese politicians on many levels.

In its official statements, he adds, Beijing places the emphasis on the need to ensure that the Chinese corporations would not end up with losses due to Indian legislation in case a commercial dispute goes critical.

“In other words, China is not willing to press on the accelerator to at least impart momentum in the economic and trade spheres,” the author presumes.

The second Chinese tool of influence, according to him, is a decades-long political and military standoff at the mutual borders issue that has peaked in 2014.

“China’s strategy to keep India off-balanced is through the instrument of keeping alive the issue of disputed borders and illegal claims to large tracts of Indian Territory extending from Aksai Chin region in the North and the whole of Arunachal Pradesh in the East,” Subhash Kapila writes.

He explains that India is greatly worried by the PRC actions on the Eastern section of the demarcation line between the two countries that is still not fully defined and laid down.

“China neither currently nor in the long-range future would ever agree to a physical demarcation on the ground of the Line of Actual Control between India and Tibet. Any Chinese agreement to do so would rob China of the tactical advantage of shifting constantly the Line of Actual Control into Indian Territory to China’s advantage by military intrusions. It would also rob China of its political and military coercive power against India,” the political analyst notes.

From his point of view, the Arunachal Pradesh region, called South Tibet by China, is the current hotbed of tensions between the two countries, and Beijing has no plans to step back, ready to use force if necessary. According to the researcher, one can see proof of such an attitude in constant military motion on the region and the adjacent areas, as well as official claims from China that include the territory into the mainland.

“China indulged in forcible military occupation of Tibet to push China’s borders to ‘Strategic Frontiers’ rather than adhering to centuries-old and historical borders. […] Short of massive political upheaval in Tibet, China is unlikely to give up its colonial stranglehold over Tibet,” Subhash Kapila supposes.

He also reminds that in 1962, the territorial disputes escalated to a short war that ended in a de-facto defeat of India and a wide chasm of strategic distrust between the two capitals, China still having no intention to bridge the gap.

According to the political researcher, Beijing’s next tool of political pressure against New-Delhi is its alliance with Pakistan that involves massive transfers of military equipment, nuclear, conventional and missile weapons to Islamabad. Moreover, the author thinks there is a possibility the two countries might be brought even closer together due to the current state of affairs on the international level.

“Pakistan with diminishing support from United States and Saudi Arabia would have to rely heavily on China. Similarly, China would seek added reliance on Pakistan in view of being strategically cornered in East Asia,” Subhash Kapila suggests.

Due to the aforementioned elements, he thinks, the Indian politicians should not get too optimistic over the consequences of Narendra Modi’s visit to China.

“Endless rounds of dialogues at various levels and with regular frequency have yielded no results for over half a century. No indicators exist to suggest that this will be otherwise in the China-India Summit Meet in May 2015,” the author points out, yet still stresses that New-Delhi should maintain ties with China and refrain from shutting down the current joint projects.

However, Subhash Kapila thinks, the Indian politicians should get rid of blind optimism and realize the two countries will be remaining in a “Cold Peace” standoff for a long time.

In his opinion, the Indian authorities must provide an adequate reaction to the Pakistan issue, rush to strengthen the defense by the Line of Actual Control with China, and do everything to chance the PRC’s stance towards their country.

Moreover, the political analyst thinks, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi must be very cautious and make his partners and opponents see him as an adamant, patient and shrewd diplomat during his upcoming May visit to Beijing if he wants an adequate reception in the future.

“India must engage in dialogues with China but not let China dictate terms in such dialogues,” concludes the SAAG consultant on International Relations and Strategic Affairs. 

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