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4 Reasons Why Chinese Is Aggressive With India

May 04, 2023 16:29 IST

Some may see China's decision to antagonise India as strategically unwise.
But China believes its prestige demands standing up to India, whatever the cost.

IMAGE: Captain Soiba Maningba Rangnamei of the 16 Bihar Regiment during the clash with Chinese soldiers in the Galwan valley, June 15-16, 2020. Photograph: ANI Photo

For the first time since June 2020, when the Galwan river valley in Eastern Ladakh witnessed a fierce clash between the Indian Army and China's People's Liberation Army, a senior analyst affiliated with the Chinese Communist party has given detailed reasons that led to the Chinese aggression at the India China border.

That confrontation led to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese troops.

'In China's view, the Galwan Valley incident is the inevitable result of India's long-term violation of the 1993, 1996, and even 2005 and 2013 agreements,' wrote Hu Shisheng, director of the South Asia Institute of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

Hu Shisheng was commenting on the Chinese social media Web site, Weibo, on the visit to Delhi recently by Li Shangfu, China's defence minister, who came to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation defence ministers' conclave hosted by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

This was the first visit by the Chinese defence minister following the PLA's border transgressions in Galwan and five other areas along the Line of Actual Control, as the two sides refer to their de facto border.


Hu's Weibo post, translated by Indian analyst Aadil Brar, detailed four reasons 'why China believes India violated peace at the border.' At least one of those reasons occurred too far back in time, in 1999, to be entirely credible.

The first reason cited by Hu is India's taking control of the Chumi Gyatse waterfalls in the Dongzhang area in 1999. Colloquially referred to as the 'Holy Waterfalls', these are a grouping of 108 waterfalls on the LAC near Yangtse, one of the hotly disputed areas along the LAC.

Hu Shisheng's second reason is more predictable: New Delhi's amendment of India's Constitution in August 2019 to change the political status of Jammu and Kashmir.

This involved revoking the special status that J&K enjoyed under Article 370 of the Constitution. In addition, J&K's statehood had been withdrawn, and the former state was divided into two centrally ruled Union territories: Ladakh and J&K.

The third reason Hu cites is the new aggression displayed by Indian military patrols since early 2020. Hu said these patrols were becoming unduly aggressive, 'building bridges and roads, and continuously extending the patrol route.'

In fact, Indian road building units were building and improving border roads that provided and improved connectivity between places on the Indian side of the LAC, such as the so-called Darbuk-Shyok-Daulet Beg Oldie road that connected up with India's northern-most posts at the foot of the Karakoram Pass.

The fourth and final reason Hu offered was that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had violated the 1988 agreement arrived at in Beijing between Rajiv Gandhi and Deng Xiaoping to put the border dispute on the backburner while developing other aspects of the relationship.

Hu alleged that Modi had hijacked the border issue by making it a central aspect of bilateral relations.

'As a result, it will be difficult for China-India relations to get out of the sluggish state of 'three deficiencies', that is, lack of forward momentum, lack of normal cooperation, and lack of strategic mutual trust,' Hu Shisheng wrote.

The territorial dispute between China and India can be divided into three sectors: The eastern sector in Arunachal Pradesh, which extends 90,000 square kilometres; the central sector, near Nepal, which measures 3,000 square kilometres; and the western sector, in Ladakh, which measures 33,000 square kilometres.

Another US-based Chinese academic Yun Sun, had written soon after the 2020 Galwan clash that the timing and nature of the Himalayan confrntation raises critical questions about China's strategic calculations and tactical objectives.

'Tactically, China wants to put an end to the infrastructure arms race along the border, but strategically is in no hurry to resolve the disputes as it bogs India down as a continental power,' wrote Yun.

Some outside observers might see China's decision to antagonise India as strategically unwise -- it may seem imprudent for Beijing to confront a large and important neighbour over barren mountains. But China believes its prestige demands standing up to India, whatever the cost.

How Beijing weighs the pros and cons of its border policies will have implications for regional stability and geopolitical ties among China, India, and the United States.

Ajai Shukla in New Delhi
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