By D.S. Rajan
According to a blog article of an individual analyst in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) named Zao An, India’s dispatch of additional troops to ‘Southern Tibet’ (India’s Arunachal) may look ‘exploratory’ now, but it may signify New Delhi’s plan to use ‘Southern Tibet’ as a springboard to jump into the PRC’s hinterland. The article written under the ‘forum for discussions’ column of the Party-controlled Global Times (Chinese language version, 4 March 2011), has identified three options for China in dealing with what it called “ India’s surge into Southern Tibet” – (i) Maintain ‘low- intensity war status quo’ with India, (ii) Actually launch a ‘low intensity war against India’, which can be upgraded into a ‘middle intensity war’ and (iii) prepare for a protracted confrontation with India which may mean a division of India. Explaining the last mentioned, the Blog has revealed that it may involve China’s cutting of India from its North Eastern parts along the Siliguri line, leading to creation of a new ‘Eastern Hindustan State’ and its seeking support for this purpose from Myanmar, Bangladesh etc. ‘India would in this way stand removed from regional affairs’, it has said. The Blog has also found motives in the Dalai Lama’s ‘Greater Tibet’ demand; it has expressed suspicion that the exiled leader may aspire to integrate ‘Greater Tibet’ with India.
In 2009, we had come across an article by a Chinese writer, which asked for ‘dismembering’ the Indian Union (SAAG Paper No.3343 dated 9 August 2009). It created a media furore in India, even warranting a response officially from New Delhi. A similar write-up has now surfaced. Question arises –Are such opinions part of Beijing’s psywar against India? Some analysts in India think so (SAAG Paper No.4356 dated 28 January 2011).
The writer Zao An’s views are being published frequently by the Global Times (Chinese language edition). The writer seems to possess an excellent background knowledge on topics covered. Notable is that an authoritative organ in China is giving space to them. The blog in question may therefore merit attention.
We must however consider such discordant notes emanating from China with utmost caution; we should keep in our minds that such writings are from individuals in China and do not reflect the government, Party or military positions in the PRC. The minimum, which we can take, is that at least, some in the Chinese society hold such jingoistic opinions, which by itself look important and deserves to be noted in India. Vice-versa, China too may be concerned about harsh anti-PRC comments made in India. Needless to say, mutual suspicions at both the sides need to be removed in the overall interest of India-China relations, particularly at a time when their leaders have come to recognize that there is enough space for the two countries to work together. Encouragement by both nations to People to People contact, especially among scholars of India and China, can specifically address the existing perceptional gaps between the two sides.
For the benefit of the viewers, a full report, based on translation of the article in question, is given at Annexure below.
(The writer, Mr D.S.Rajan, is Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies, Chennai, India. Translation done by him. Email: [email protected])
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) controlled Global Times, under its ‘Forum for Discussions’ column appearing in its Chinese language version, ‘huanqiu’, on 4 March 2011, has carried a Blog article contributed by an individual writer ‘Zao An’, captioned “ India issues letter of challenge by increasing troops in Southern Tibet: China’s war plan out” (http://bbs.huanqiu.com/thread-539753-1-1.html).
The article has alleged that in addition to the local police and armed forces, India’s three Mountain Divisions and one Reconnaissance Battalion are now deployed in what it called, ‘Southern Tibet’ (India’s Arunachal Pradesh); further according to it, India has stationed in ‘Southern Tibet’ its refueling and advanced early warning aircraft and constructed airports, capable of handling advanced Su-30 MKI aircraft. The total Indian troop strength in ‘Southern Tibet’ has reached more than 200,000. The writer ‘Zao An’ has also noted, what he describes as, “repeated statements of India’s high officials that India cannot lose a second war with China, India’s withdrawal of part of its armed forces deployed in Kashmir, New Delhi’s search for reconciliation with Islamabad, the increasing Indian ‘aspirations’ for deploying troops in Afghanistan and Tajikistan and lastly, remarks often made by the Dalai Lama that Tibet belongs to India, not to China”.
Zao An has admitted that India’s very recent actions in China’s South-west, have not led to a show down between the two sides for the main reason that the time is not yet ripe for this. China still enjoys sufficient internal stability and has inherent ability to protect it. Also, some countries led by the USA have come to face a kind of unstable situation; any conspiracy to besiege China is therefore doomed to end in a failure. The writer, has stated that still such factors have not prevented India from enlarging its military strength and expanding its ambitions to an ‘explosive’ stage and contrasted this with China’s approach considering negotiations as the mean to deal with Southern Tibet issue. India’s GDP is to go up this year, perhaps surpassing that of China and by next five years India’s population can exceed that of China. The Blog has then observed that under encouragement from various factors, it is likely that India’s swelling ambitions may cross the limits of its mind and that it may launch a ‘preemptive attack’ on China.
How to understand India’s action of increasing troops in ‘Southern Tibet’ over which China has sovereignty? Raising this question, the article has observed that the scope of India’s action is no longer restricted to its self-defence needs. It has been proven historically that ‘Southern Tibet’ belongs to China; that territory remains in the dreams of several generations of the Chinese. But ‘Southern Tibet’ with a 100 million population is under India’s actual control. The article has added that under such conditions, ‘we must see that India has no plans to really build-up Southern Tibet and instead wants to make Southern Tibet a springboard for carrying out a jump into China’s hinterland’.
Zao An further mentions that what is worrisome is that Southern Tibet has again suffered India’s onslaught. Under such a situation, it may not be possible for China to ‘recover’ Southern Tibet through peaceful means; to avoid any escalation to the situation, China has made clear that it will not resort to arms, which position is clearly understood by India. India’s dispatch of additional troops into Southern Tibet is being seen as a reaction to China’s building of military infrastructure along the line of its actual control – construction of at least six airports and strategic highways capable of transporting weapons. “We have seen that though on surface, India has dispatched afresh its troops into Southern Tibet, the present phase may only mark an exploratory attack, but then exploratory attack can become an attack. At a key moment, India can even resort to the use of nuclear weapons against China. We cannot sit idle and watch India’s using of its military and weapons to occupy China’s precious territory”.
The Blog has further stated, “What we see therefore is an India which is getting aggressive with the sole purpose of defeating China, occupying more land and reestablishing a new great Hindustan!”
Zao An, touching upon the role of the Dalai Lama, has said that the latter is getting old and is in a delicate situation with regard to finding his successor. He wants to set up a ‘Greater Tibet’ and sell it to India. When he becomes 100 years old, he may draw his own ‘Dalai Lama line’, similar to the past ‘McMahon line’, providing for incorporation of ‘Greater Tibet’ into India. The article then raised a question-
India used the line drawn by the dead McMahon to takeaway Chinese territory, and will India similarly takeaway Chinese territory once again on the basis of the dead Dalai Lama’s line? Admitting that the Dalai Lama is still a person having some influence and capable of betraying China, the article has said that the Tibetan Government in exile is ‘recognized’ by India, which may provoke a clash between China and India in future.
Giving an advice to China, the Blog has stated, “under the conditions of we facing India’s shameless invasion into China’s Southern Tibet, China should at least prepare a three- stage plan. Identifying the first stage as ‘maintaining low intensity war status quo’, it has remarked that in the interest of short and long term stability of the country, China should no longer follow the path of harmony with respect to relations with India, instead it should set a limit to its tolerance. Maintenance of ‘low intensity war status quo’ can only be for three to five years, because once India’s population and economic growth exceed that of China, a rising India will not be content with its role in South Asia, and can certainly challenge China. While persisting in such low intensity resistance, China must guarantee its military superiority to the greatest degree, recognizing at the same time the possibility of China carrying out great scale bombing and attack against India. If China gains strong deterrence capabilities against India, India cannot do in Southern Tibet whatever it wants. Otherwise, India will gather strength; continuously compress China’s strategic space and bottom line, so as to maximize access to sovereignty over Southern Tibet.
According to the Blog article, China’s second plan should be to actually fight a low intensity war against India. To protect its sovereignty over Southern Tibet, such ‘lowest limit’ plan, can be developed by China into a ‘middle-level intensity war’ against India, so that India’s conspiracy to occupy Southern Tibet can be smashed within a shortest period of time and Southern Tibet can simultaneously be brought back to China’s practical occupation, enabling China to carry out speedy economic development there and thus to a great degree win the support of people there. In this way, the Sino-Indian dispute can become empty, requiring no action.
As per the Blog, China’s third plan could aim at generating a protracted confrontation with India; this may mean the beginning of division of India. China can thoroughly separate India and its Northeastern parts, deeply cutting along the Siliguri line. It can make use of the separatist forces in these parts for forming a completely new ‘Eastern Hindustan’. China can at the same time help Myanmar, Bangladesh etc. to support such a newly risen nation. In this way, New Delhi can be removed completely out of the regional affairs.
The article has observed that India claims Southern Tibet as its inalienable part. On the other hand, China considers Southern Tibet as a disputed territory. In this connection, it has raised two questions – Is such a position advantageous to China? Has the support of the United States to India put China in a weaker position? Zao An has answered them by saying that in return for US military help and technological support, India may like to continuously adopt a tough stand to deal with their common enemy that is China. China on its part has developed infrastructure in Tibet like the Qinghai-Tibet railway but it has no military connotation and does not look like a plan to carry out forward attacks. The infrastructure is for civilian use, but can be used for military purpose at the times of war. The writer has found that China’s stand is apparently weak. The signal China is giving to foreign countries is that the Chinese government is not having determination or will to protect its sovereignty over Southern Tibet. But, China is the home for Xunzu’s “Art of War”, which allows deception. If China is absolutely firm now, it will amount to allowing Russia and India to be more vigilant on China. This will not be beneficial to China. China should not therefore indulge in a military offensive against India. Though its military infrastructure across the border appears defensive, China may be in a position to use it for offence. China can make use of its rapid military transport capability to India’s surprise. China should not show off its military power. It should use its comprehensive national strength to settle its dispute with India.