scorecardChina wants India to stay in its lane — three reasons why China is puffing its chest, according to a former diplomat
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China wants India to stay in its lane — three reasons why China is puffing its chest, according to a former diplomat

China wants India to stay in its lane — three reasons why China is puffing its chest, according to a former diplomat
PolicyPolicy3 min read
  • After years of silence on the border, India-China relations took a turn for the worse during the violent clash between troops along the border in Galwan Valley.
  • Former diplomat, Rajiv Bhatia, believes there’s a three-fold explanation for why China chose to escalate things — tactical, regional, and global.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, he explained why its not merely a distraction tactic from what’s happening domestically with China.
The recent clash between Chinese and Indian troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Galwan Valley has many people wondering why China suddenly chose to turn aggressive towards India.

Former diplomat and a distinguished fellow with Mumbai-based thinktank Gateway House, Rajiv Bhatia, believes that the build-up was happening for a while and it’s not a distraction tactic as the second wave of coronavirus pandemic takes hold on China.

In fact, he has a three-fold explanation for why China is choosing now to move against India — tactical, regional and global.
The tactical issue between India and China
“Chinese are really upset about progress in our border infrastructure development. We’ve been building roads, and they feel that this will negate their advantage,” explained Bhatia.

India has recently revamped its Darbuk-Shayok-Dault Beg Oldie road and the primary users are in the Indian Amry. The road is critical for its connectivity in the region of north-eastern Ladakh. It provides all-weather access to far-flung areas that share a boundary with Aksai Chin — an area under China’s control — like the Depsang Plains.

It’s along this road, a part of which passes through the Galwan River Valley, that India and China are currently caught in a face-off.

India is still far behind China in terms of border infrastructure, but the increase in momentum has narrowed the gap — posing a threat to China.

The regional issue between India and China
It’s no secret that India has global ambitions — not unlike China. However, the latter wants India to remain restricted to South Asia, according to Bhatia. “They have coordinated with Pakistan and Nepal to create embarrassment for India,” he said.

Nepal recently passed the Constitution Amendment Bill to update the country’s map — a map that eats into Indian territory. India has rejected citing that Nepal’s “artificial enlargement” includes parts of Limpiyuadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani in the north-west.

Pakistan, on the other hand, has been creating issues on the other side of the border along the Line of Control (LoC). “At about 10:45 am today [June 19] Pakistan initiated the unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing with small arms and intense shelling with mortars along the LoC in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district,” said Defence Ministry spokesperson Colonel Devender Anand.

“Here you’ve planned to be a leading power in the world. Whereas China is trying to reduce you to a mere South Asian power,” said Bhatia.

China doesn’t want India to be a global superpower
India has been conducting regular weekly meetings with its QUAD counterparts — Japan, Australia and the US. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also been busy strengthening India’s international ties.

Most recently, India entered into a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Australia elevating their bilateral ties to a new level. “Chinese are not very happy with the growing proximity between Delhi and Washington and other partners. They are not happy with, you know, the strength,” explained Bhatia.

In lieu of these reasons, Bhatia believes that its unlikely that the clash along the border is a mere distraction tool. And, it would have taken weeks of preparations to pull off.

The diplomatic toolkit is one weapon that India has to respond to China’s push — like postponing the Russia-India-China summit or calling a special session of QUAD. The other is its economic toolkit. “That is where the political leadership will weigh the strength of public opinion in India on the one hand and the need of the Indian industry on the other hand,” said Bhatia.

However, he urges proceeding with caution on the economic front stating, “ If you are annoying the dragon far too much then your efforts to de-escalate can be negated.”

China’s aggression isn’t only aimed at India — but at least four other countries in the region

India and China are testing each other at the Ladakh border— but it won’t be another war like in 1962, according to experts

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