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Antics of a mad dragon

Antics of a mad dragon
Highlights

Not a day passes these days without the Chinese seeking to stoke tensions with India over Doklam standoff. Disputability of sovereignty over the plateau at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan notwithstanding, the unilateral stand of China on the issue disregards all well-laid norms and niceties. It is calling Bhutan even a vassal and protectorate of India and also questioning India’s sover

Not a day passes these days without the Chinese seeking to stoke tensions with India over Doklam standoff. Disputability of sovereignty over the plateau at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan notwithstanding, the unilateral stand of China on the issue disregards all well-laid norms and niceties. It is calling Bhutan even a vassal and protectorate of India and also questioning India’s sovereignty over Sikkim.

China is eyeing strategic leeway over the Siliguri Corridor known as Chicken's neck, connecting north-east to rest of India. If China gets to lay a road to Doklam, its troops will be within a striking distance of strategically susceptible Siliguri Corridor to snap lifeline to the north-east – a defence strategist's nightmare.

Therefore, it is clearly a casus belli, not any salami-slicing strategy of creeping acquisitions in South China Sea. Yet, China’s muscle-flexing on the back of a buoyant economy is being ably stopped in its tracks by an assertive India, which, rightly, is brooking no conditions for any talks on the issue. It, however, is open to mutual withdrawal of troops.

The way India is handling the situation shows its cool head and pragmatic approach. But China, seized by an untamable bellicosity, is arrogating to itself the sole right to redraw boundaries unilaterally. For India, pushing back territorial transgressions is non-negotiable. However, war is equally disastrous for India. Any war mongering in the country will hobble government’s chances of resolving the issue peacefully through diplomacy.

It is sad that China’s stupidity, arrogance and a huge ego threaten to plunge two nuclear giants, two great civilisations of more than a billion people each, into a war which will leave unthinkable destruction in its wake. Perhaps, China is emboldened by empty rhetoric of US, Japan and other nations over its acquisitions in South China and East China seas.

But, India can't be browbeaten into giving up its strategic heft in Doklam or sovereignty over POK where the ambitious CPEC project runs through, which India refused to be part of. Any skirmishes will trigger boycott of Chinese goods and pose threat to CPEC project itself. There could also be other radical spin-offs like several countries seeking to pay back China in the same coin in the China seas. This China must ponder over.

The forthcoming NSA-level talks among BRICS in Beijing on July 27-28 afford both countries a good opportunity to strike a mutually beneficial deal and put an end to the pestering standoff. But as China is cocking a snook at India's peace overtures, India must not let its guard down even for a moment. It had better follow the advice of Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu that we must not rely on the chances of the enemy attacking us, rather on our readiness to receive him.

The situation merits the immediate attention of all major powers to prevail upon the Chinese. It is also a test of Modi’s all-embracing diplomacy, whether the strong friends made by him will stand by India for the sake of a rule-based world order, for peace and progress of all, including the Chinese.

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