China’s undisputed leader Xi Jinping’s bold militaristic bids to resolve boundary disputes, maritime and land, are known already in South and East China Seas and in land disputes with India.
But his latest clarion call to his countrymen not to tolerate any loss of territory assumes significance, as the ramifications could be damning to the region. Ironically, his diatribe has been more pronounced since the time he was elevated to ‘core’ leader of Communist Party of China, a position that only Mao Tse-Tung (Mao Zedong) enjoyed to dictatorial levels.
It is time, New Delhi takes note of such salami-slicing tactics. In the recent times, India’s stance on taking part in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has turned the dragon red. Its objection to the Chinese economic corridor passing through Baluchistan, which is part of POK, also rankles China no end.
More than these, what puts India in the crosshairs of China is its apparent slide into the strategic embrace of the US and other countries to act as their pivot in China containment strategy in Asia as well as Indo-Pacific region.
It is fine to stand for and rally nations for regional stability but to ally with strategic concerns of one nation against the other in the present multi-polar world would only hurt its own interests. For all the claims of developing strategic partnership with India, the US would not risk losing Pakistan to China. It ignored India’s plea last week when it did not include LeT and JeM in the list of terrorist bodies handed over to Pak “for very specific actions.”
That China’s actions provoke other nations, subvert international laws and norms is quite true. But, in case of any conflict with the Chinese, no country would come to India’s aid. National interests should take precedence over anything else in the changing global order.
By connecting to the Indian Ocean through Pakistan and South Asia via Nepal, China has already shown it is gaining strategic heft against India. As for economic power, it has a GDP five times the size of India’s and a far stronger military.
A way ahead for India is to practise non-alignment policy and deepen economic ties with China. This will allay Chinese fears of India playing pivot for its rivals. Given the tendency that is prevailing, New Delhi should explore if participating in BRI would yield dividends.
Another issue that riles China as regards India is Dalai Lama. It just cautioned world leaders against engaging the Lama. India must make it clear to Beijing that it respects its territorial integrity. In doing so – and staying clear of any warring side – India can leverage its territorial claim on PoK, through which BRI passes. Finally, strong bonds between the two great Asian neighbours are imperative to ensure long-lasting global peace and growth.