There is no contradiction in India’s position on Indo Tibetan border issue
Colonel Awadhesh Kumar
Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, Retd of People liberation Army of Communist Party of China, gave out his intense views at a seminar organised by the Delhi-based Institute of Chinese Studies along with former Ambassadors to China Gautam Bambawale and Ashok Kantha.
This former PLA officer turned-scholar’s served a long stint in the Ministry of Defence, of China, and in that capacity this former Chinese military officer made observations about closer India-China ties. However it should be clear to all that Defence Ministry of China does not have any operational or administrative control over the Armed Forces. It is the Military Commission which has the entire Command and Controls.
Zhou Bo has made a very deliberate comment on Russia’s eventual decline and the greater importance of the Beijing-New Delhi axis in future. This has caused some interest in the strategic circles. However his game plan became obvious when he said that there was a contradiction in External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s formulation that bilateral ties in other areas cannot progress without resolving the border standoff. In 1988, when India began repairing its ties with China, it was said the border dispute won’t hinder the development of ties in other areas, he claimed.
Well, it should be very clear to him, his Communist bosses, the PLA and the people of China that there can be no business as usual without solving the Indo Tibetan Boundary issue and also the demarcation of Tibet China boundary. Thus there is no contradiction in India’s stand on the issue. In the last 2500 years there has been problem between China and India only because of the Chinese Occupation of Tibet and later parts of Ladhak since late 1950’s. Thus resolving the Indo Tibetan Boundary issue is the crux of the issue.
He also seems to be very apologetic regarding the Russia Ukraine Conflict. He States “Russia’s war with Ukraine, no matter how reasonable in responding to NATO’s expansion, cannot be said to be legitimate. Both of us (India and China) have suffered a bit in terms of our credibility and reputation because we refuse to overtly condemn Russia,”.
Again it would have worked wonders, In case he had similarly talked about Chinese invasion of Tibet and later occupation of Ladhak. He should have also commented on NATO’s relentless strive to expand Eastward, and unnecessarily meddling in the internal politics of Ukraine.
So far as India is concerned, we want peace but we will stand by our friend Russia which had stood for us when some of the major Ukraine supporters had openly threatened us in 1971 during the Indo Pak war. So we Indians need not bother by such “ credibility “ issues in the Western eyes.
He has then further commented that China and Russia will continue to be partners, “we have a fundamental difference in our overlooks and outlooks regarding an international order,” said Zhou while predicting that Russia’s international position will decline and its economy, highly dependent on the export of resources, would not be reliable because of western sanctions. Besides, its population is coming down demographically.
There is certainly some catch somewhere, when a senior Chinese official starts talking in such manner. In 1998 In the after math of our nuclear tests, these very Western powers had gone “ mad “ and had imposed various kinds of sanctions on India. What happened to all those sanctions ? Similarly, as World War 1, World War2, dismantling of Soviet Union has shown, that Russia has the capacity and the WILL to bounce back each and every time. India -Russia – SAARC – Central Russia itself is a vast market where Western sanctions will be blunted. China must ensure that it remains part of this market.
“So apart from the largest nuclear arsenal, how important would Russia be in 20 years from now?” asked Zhou. Our answer will be …as important as ever, rather more important than China as Russia impacts Europe, far East Asia, Central Asia and China all together.
Zhou also sought to simultaneously drive a wedge in India-US and India-Russia ties by pointing the US carries out freedom of naval operations in India’s exclusive economic zone while preaching freedom of navigation in the south China Sea.
Well EEZ is certainly open to freedom of navigation by even naval vessels. In time to come even the India Navy will move on from Indo Pacific into Pacific itself and carry out such naval operations in EEZ of USA.
He said Russia has not fought well in Ukraine and so India’s dependence on its weapon systems will decrease. Zhou is forgetting that Indian weapon imports have been reducing drastically since 2014 from all sources. Now we are importing very selectively as we are becoming more and more ATMANIRBHAR. However Indo Russian Cooperation will still continue in all sectors including defence.
Zhou showed his true colours when he was unyielding on the border issues, saying there was no ambush of Indian soldiers in Galwan Valley and that China had no reason to be the aggressor. So how come PLA lost 40 killed and as many wounded. The salami slicing tactics of PLA was finally halted and the Chinese bluff exposed to the whole world.