India falls short of apprehending China’s influence in South Asia

India-China, Sikkim Border
Image Credit : AP

India may have averted the standoff with China across the Line of Actual Control near Bishing in Tuting area of Arunachal Pradesh but the troops of Peoples Liberation Army are consistently engaged in occupying the areas they deem as belonging to Beijing.

The temporary resolution of Tuting incident in Upper Siang district of Arunchal Pradesh should not be considered as victory sign for the Modi government’s diplomacy.

The Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) between officials of India and China last week resolved the incident of road building by Chinese civilians at Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh as Beijing has agreed to stop road-construction activity across the Line of Actual Control+(LAC), with Indian troops returning the two earth excavators and other equipment seized from Chinese workers in the region last month.

Chinese workers and PLA troops are advancing on their said projects and aims as dictated by their President Xi Jinping who has set a goal of resolutely protecting its sovereignty and interests.

Xi has reiterated that China has made “historical breakthrough” in national defence and military reform. The navy has protected the nation’s maritime interest in South China Sea and its army rapidly upgraded its weaponry.

In December last week, Chinese road-construction personnel had intruded almost a kilometer into Indian territory undertaking track alignment activity near the Bishing village in the Upper Siang district of the state, resultantly, on December 28, a joint team of Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) stopped them and sent them back during which some civil construction equipment, including two excavators, were confiscated.

The Indo-Tibetan border in the Eastern sector i.e., the McMohan Line, spans from tri-junction of India-Bhutan-Tibet in the west to tri-junction of India-China-Burma in the east but in last three years there have been steep rise in the incursions by PLA troops into Indian territory.

The Sino-Indian border is represented by a “Line of Actual Control”. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said he was not aware of the matter, adding that his country has never recognised Arunachal Pradesh as a state in India. China claims the area as part of southern Tibet.

It is pertinent to mention that Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a 73-day standoff at Doklam near the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction after Indian soldiers prevented Chinese from building a road in the disputed territory. After prolonged diplomatic negotiations, the two sides announced disengagement on August 28.

But General Rawat fails to understand the nature of assertive China and says that “China has withdrawn a large part of its troops deployed near Doklam tri-junction in Chumbi valley.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi blundered in his first move of his foreign policy by inviting South Asia leaders to his inauguration as he displayed his intention to become a leader of the region but alas his policy flopped miserably as India-Pakistan ties are at an all time low and rather in a more conflicting stage, where as with China, India is facing continuous humiliation over the increase in transgressions in 2017 by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) along the disputed Sino-Indian border compared to 2016, particularly in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. On an average around 300 transgressions are reported along the China border due to “difference in perception.” India’s influence in its neighbourhood has nosedived with China assisting militarily and economically  to Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Major infrastructure projects are being undertaken by China in Kathmandu by way of railway line, the Hambantota project in Sri Lanka and the great new city near Male. Modi should now reconsider its foreign policy to improve India’s status in the region.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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