By – Lata Moni Das
Farmers’ agitation and the issue of hoisting their flag in place of the national flag have hurt every Indian citizen’s sentiment badly. However, amidst that news, intrusion by China and the picture of construction of a village inside the Indian territory seems to have been missed by many. China has been after the easternmost state of India – Arunachal Pradesh for many years now, so much so that they even object Indian leaders visiting the state. Recently, there were reports of over 30000 printed world maps being destroyed by China as it did not include ‘Arunachal Pradesh’ and ‘Tibet’ as a part of its territory. Not only this, history stands proof that China has time and again continuously been trying to encroach Indian land and this cannot just be casually overlooked. Yes, there have been a few face offs between Indian and Chinese troops in the past, most recent being in 2020 when the Chinese troops tried pushing in at the Gulwan Valley. This clash is perhaps the biggest military confrontation between the two armies since 1967.
In the recent past, reports of Chinese intrusions in Arunachal Pradesh have become a regular news and the Indian government has reacted with increase in deployment of Indian army along the Indo-China border. But the major question is – Is it stopping the Chinese intrusions on our soil? In the past several years, China has been undertaking many constructions in Arunachal Pradesh, writing their claims on rocks just to provoke us. Many are now of the opinion that China has been encroaching Indian lands bit by bit. Some also believe that a major chunk of Arunachal Pradesh has already been lost because of such encroachment tactics of China. But the Indian government has always cloaked its face offs with China and maintained a stoic silence over China’s open claims and actions. For instance the Chinese foreign minister had quoted, “We do not recognize the so-called Arunachal Pradesh as Indian territory. We are legally constructing our own village in our Chinese territory.” Notably, Arunachal Pradesh shares 1129 kms border with China who, however, rejects the McMahon line which was demarcated during Shimla Convention in 1914. Interestingly, they accept the McMahon line with Myanmar but when it comes to India, they still have a problem. New Delhi must work on the demarcation part and come up with a LAC with the Red Dragon diplomatically which will solve this issue once and for all. We cannot let our precious land of Arunachal Pradesh go to the Dragon’s hand. No doubt, our brave soldiers have always stood strong and even sacrificed their lives to stop China from taking our lands. Having said this, I would like to sincerely request our political parties to stop the blame game over such grave matters and to work together to stop the Chinese incursions and claims once and for all. The Chinese blatantly make statements where they openly accept the construction of new villages claiming it to be within their territory. And the intrusions and claims have now become a routine affair which means they have obviously changed the status quo.
Recently in a shocking statement in ‘Global Times’ on January 19 last, made by a research fellow from the institute of Chinese Borderland studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), he claimed that Indian media distort facts and that it is India who has occupied 90 sq kms of Chinese territory in Arunachal Pradesh. Another statement on the same platform suspected Indian media’s move to hype the anti-China movement in India. On the other hand, with respect to the construction of the village, the director of the research department at the national institute Tsinghua University said that the two countries have not demarcated their boundary line, “so there is no question of accusing China for building villages in the territory.” Is this not a provocative reply to Delhi? Can we be still silent on this?
Despite the Indian government rejecting the continuous demand for Tawang by the Chinese counterparts to settle the border imbroglio, China seems to be not giving up any time soon. New Delhi has categorically told Beijing that even raising the Tawang issue means it never wants any peace settlement. What is required is a strong reply by New Delhi to the regular Chinese encroachments on Indian Territory, their constant disputes and frictions. It’s true that nobody wants war between the two nuclear-powered countries but if there is a war, then China must know that India is in a much better position than she was in 1962. Moreover, the recent Biden administration in the USA recognized India as an important partner in the Indo Pacific region, its common motto to solve border disputes with China makes us stronger. This is the right time for India to expand its coordination with like-minded countries to push back China. If at all there was a conflict, Pakistan will get more encouragement to confront India and she might have to face a two sided conflict. However, our strong bilateral connections with Japan and Australia will make them stand by our side and our military contact with neighboring countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Russia, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia tilts the balance towards India’s favour. Obviously though New Delhi is not going to rush its reaction, as long as China is interested in dialogues.
The recent disengagement agreement in Eastern Ladakh with China gives us hope that it will not only resolve major border disputes with Arunachal Pradesh but also all other remaining issues with India without any military involvement. But India has to maintain a tough stance and be ready to face any situation from the Jinping dictatorship which still lacks trust.