Is India downplaying Chinese border intrusions?

September 8, 2009

In response to recent reports that two Chinese helicopters intruded into Indian territory in Leh in Jammu and Kashmir, Army Chief Deepak Kapoor said he did get reports of Chinese intrusion but “this is not a new thing.”

“I want to tell you that the press sometimes hypes this but the numbers of intrusions which have taken place this year are on the same level as last year,” Kapoor said.

Soon after that the Indian media reported that Chinese soldiers had crossed the border in Ladakh last week and painted some rocks red.

Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said, “Let me go on record to say that border with China has been one of the most peaceful boundaries that we have had as compared to other boundary lines with other countries.”

Former Air Force Chief Fali Homi Major and Navy Chief Sureesh Mehta have repeatedly warned that China is a danger to India, and the hawks in the Indian security establishment fear that the Chinese had a strategic plan of encircling India.

Around the time India and China were holding the 13th round of their border talks in August, an article had appeared in China titled “If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up”.

The article primarily focussed on how China can split India and break it up into 20-30 states like the European Union.

Given this context, many seem to think Indian officials and ministers could be playing down any potential threat from China.

So what do you think is India’s policy towards China? What does India seek to achieve by playing down these intrusions?

Brahma Chellaney, former adviser to India’s National Security Advisory Board, said, “The atmosphere has deteriorated in the recent months, plus there’s been escalation of tensions along the Himalayan border.”

What should be India’s stand on these constant intrusions in the name of a differently perceived Line of Actual Control?

In a Wall Street Journal report, India’s former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra said, “The Chinese must know that if they create something on border there would be an instant reaction far beyond what happened in 1962.”

Many analysts on the other hand believe that India is uncertain about how to handle these intrusions and deal with Beijing’s ‘Rising China’ strategy.

“India is clueless on how to deal with China’s growing belligerence, so it attempts to play down an admitted pattern of growing Chinese incursions.” said Chellaney.

Should India fall back on the U.S. to checkmate any future designs of China to break up India? Or should India focus on trying to find a solution to the long standing border dispute with China so that it can concentrate on consolidating its strategic interests in the region and beyond?

38 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Coming inside Indian border and going back means nothing,some may consider it as showing off aggression, but i wonder how and i dont see a point in such mindless acts. It would be wrong to say India is short of ideas on how to handle china..It looks like china has no idea how to handle india’s growing global influence and those useless incursions are a result of chineese frustration, clearly not knowing what to do on part of china.
Again chineese should know such incurssions can only do one thing..and that is Inida will strengthen its global ties with US, Russia, Isreal, Taiwan, vietnam and Nepal and needless to say the gang will be against chineese.

Posted by Anitha | Report as abusive

Seems like high time for a formal U.S.-India alliance _now_, and not an informal “natural” alliance as it is currently.

Posted by For Democracy | Report as abusive

after reading this article i must say that we have to make a strong policy against china . chinese activities are not only related with intrusion only, but their stratergy of building up strong relationships with srilanka and pakistan is really something to concern about .

Posted by ankush | Report as abusive

india should strengthen ties with japan, taiwan and vietnam and that in turn will put pressure on china. china appear to be brutal outside but are actually cowards. chinese leader Mao TseTsung based his rule on the chinese history which has ruled its people without any mercy. He applied the same formula that chinese people wont revolt without aid of Buddhist monks so he applied communism to remove the religion factor.

the idea of breaking up india is interesting but i dont know how it would work. indians know how they can come together though they speak different languages or different culture. they have done so against british. india being one is etched in their heart bound by centuries old culture. On the other hand china is more vulnerable to be separated into factions. but funny thing is china is still covered by an iron curtain. they have more problems than they show out. this is not only to keep international media blind but also its own people. if china goes democratic the whole country’s outlook will change.

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

Instead China is cluless how to handle India who is housing Dalai Lama–for all good reasons that India has. Come on think about it. It is huge. These incursions on not well demarcated border are usual and defining an incursion is hard too.
But did incursions happen before or after Dalai lama visit to Taiwan. If it is after his visit, that can be explained. Nothing incenses a Chinese heart more than admiring Dala Lama. Just try it.

Media can hype it up unnecessarily. An example of a irresponsible media/analysts is the overplayed/overanlyzed news from China written in Chinse about India that it can be split into several pieces and all that—soemone took the pains to translate and fan it till the flames go high in sky. India knows what to do judging from my 6 yr nephew who knows how to fly his toy plane and do dog fight with Chinese planes as his Air Force pilot Wing Commader dad teaches him. The kid has no clue about Pakistan. I take kids word that Pakistan is no big deal and his fighter pilot dad will take care of it so sleep tight!

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

we miss george bush,he(as president)was best friend india evr had in white house.well,now obama…its open ,loves china,pak more than india,israel.dats y so much aggression frm china nd pak.we must dump all deals nd goahead wid fusion tests,ballistic missiles etc.NDA govt was so stupid,there were sanctions nyway during 98 tests y d hell they didnt go for further tests?y unilater voluntary test ban moratorium?

Very interesting discussion.

My feeling is that India does not know how to tackle the Chinese. If I see the recent developments it is worth to believe that Indians are doing their best to make China into pieces. There is a sudden spur of unrests in many Chinese cities.

The fundamental difference between China and India is that India can very well survive as a collection of states maintaining its own identities where as China can not. It is a country stitched together by the might of its red army. There is growing ill feeling among many native peoples about Han Chinese and their exponential growth in many parts of non-traditional strong holds.

I don’t think India can meet the Chinese head-on but can do its best support all covert operations. Around the world there is a sheer jealous on China for its sudden economic growth and India can catch on this ill feeling. Pretty sure there are many out to help if India take some initiates to destabilise that country. On a long term view, I think, India can better survive such wave of disintegration than Chinese.

Posted by Appu | Report as abusive

is it a proxy war between US and China being started on Indian soil? nuclear agreement with US enter India in this proxy war. without resolving regional issues, can India take benefit from this proxy war? can India take benefit from this proxy war in the presence of more then 40% below poverty line population? or it benefit only powerful elite? these r all questions and before commenting any thing one should address it

Posted by aamir riaz | Report as abusive

Indian government has been purposely influencing its not so well educated citizens that China is an enemy to India, due to the defeat of the 1962 war with China. Moreover, a lot of Indians are talking up revenge and even invasion into Tibet to get even with China. It seems those people are so revengeful to believe in their military power that they never think of the consequence of being beaten up again. Comparatively speaking, the Indian military wisdom and power are not equal to the Chinese no matter how much it has spent to buy various kinds of weapons from other countries. If the Chinese army could easily defeat Indian in 1960s, it can wipe out the Indian military force without any problem now.
I would hope these two newly developed Asian countries live together peacefully and solve their border problem reasonably.

Posted by Jack Smith | Report as abusive

have to agree with jack here. we are simply underestimating the strength of the chinese in terms of standing army, military budget and brute political will. it is quite ironic that whereas the leaders of india talk of developing India in to a superpower in a few decades by promoting universal education (euphemism for corruption by swindling of education funds), they fail to understand the inevitable clash we are headed for with china. india has been concerned solely far too long with Pakistan and needs to deal with this hydra

Posted by tadasmi | Report as abusive

India need a good foreign policy, it does not have very strong relations with any of its naighbours. Our media always flashes the news that creat and nurture doubts about our neighbours.
Western media and foreign policy is just waiting for these things to happen as they will benefit in billions by arms sale. This was always been tactic of western world for every country. Good example is all the oil producing countries. One or other way most of their hard earned money is spent on arm race and unnecessary war.
It is unfortunate that we have border issue with our neighbours which should have been resolved in first five years of independence instead we just live with it and complicate relations with them. This also results in animosity within people living in that region as they cannot see any development in those areas.

Resolving border issue should be in five year plan and one of the major agenda of all of the political party. I think creating unnecessary mistrust will never give good fruits.

Posted by DJ | Report as abusive

“Moreover, a lot of Indians are talking up revenge and even invasion into Tibet to get even with China. It seems those people are so revengeful to believe in their military power that they never think of the consequence of being beaten up again. ”
Very interesting comments by Jack.I would like to remind that China is trying to encircle India by building relations with many of our neighboring countires (like Myanmar, Nepal, Srilanka and Pakistan). China is very worried about India increasing global power.
Neighbors around India have waged wars against India .We Indians may be lagging in military might than China but, we not so well educated citizens Indians as u say have the courage and valor to defend any aggressions on our soil .We in India admire the rise of China and we don’t talk about disintegrating mainland china and I am afraid they do that .
Indian borders are always troubled and India can handle any problems as and when is arises .Just wanna quote Brajesh Mishra words to Wall Street
“The Chinese must know that if they create something on border there would be an instant reaction far beyond what happened in 1962.”… Jack I hope u understand the meaning of far beyond

Posted by Jey Subramanium | Report as abusive

India’a strategy to push for way to get multi party system of govt in China.it has not been too successful in the neighbourhood, but that’s the only way to have peace on borders

…developing India in to a superpower in a few decades by promoting universal education (euphemism for corruption by swindling of education funds)…
-tadasmi

If education is a euphemism for swindling then how come there are more billionaires and millionaires from India that were ‘educated’ in India?

-Lakshmi Mittal (Corus, steel) is worth $20.5 billion.
-Mukesh Ambani (Reliance Industries) $20.8 billion.
-Anil Ambani (Reliance Communications) is worth $12.5 billion.
-Kalanithi Maran (Sun TV) is worth $1.2 billion.
-Yusuf Hamied (Cipla Pharmaceuticals), $1.06 billion.
(source: Forbes)

Together, they are worth more than the 4 richest Chinese combined:

-Liu Yonghao (New Hope Group), $2.2 billion.
-Yang Huiyan (Country Garden), $2.27 billion.
-Wong Kwong Yu (Gome Electrical Appliances), $2.7 billion.
-Liu Yongxing (East Hope Group), $3 billion.
(source: Forbes)

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

the recent chinese probes amount to NOTHING.the issues in china today is that a jockeying for power has commenced between factions,as Mr HU JIN TAU, will retire in end 2011.Economically china has built up its largest economic zones along the coasts of the south china sea&east china sea.These coastal SEZ’s and cities are the new china.Militarily China is weak at sea.Strategic ASW is non existent in PLAN.Indian Navy’s focus on the nuclear submarine has surprised them.They now realise that there is a fatal weakness& no matter what they do along the Himalayan borders, a sea denial strategy by INDIA in the seas around India& IOR will hurt their exports and imports from the crucial GULF&WEST.To overcome this they need 50 years!!The missile capability of the ARIHANT with a SLBM range of 700 – 1000kms has become a game changer.The entire coastal infrastructure of new China& its major cities like Shanghai are targets from deep sea areas.A FACTOR NOT ANTICIPATED.The 1962 paradigm is over and as India has demonstrated since then in the wars of 1965, 1971& 1999 an attack will be repulsed by all the three armed forces acting in unison.Better to be prudent& get back to the jaw- jaw mode than war war!!

Posted by devindra sethi | Report as abusive

While I completely disagree with China on Tibet, we have more in common than is generally realised.

China needs India’s blithe spirits.

What does India need ? A warm, fuzzy neighbour would be nice.

However India first needs to get its head screwed on straight. It needs to get on with good governance, transparency and accountability etc so it can figure out its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities And Threats.

In Strengths, it could put Culture in caps.

Welcome to: Yet another “conspiracy in corruption”

Psychotic PMO Bareknuckles “The Economist”

“When The Going Gets Tough, The PMO’s Media Advisers Go Nuts”

“James Astill’s Dazed Denial”

Andhra Pradesh High Court’s Pernicious Rebellion Against The Law .05/29/09

RTI Act 2005 Abuse In Andhra Pradesh- SIC Cheats! Chief Secretary Lies!05/07/09

Prejudiced CIC Laps Up PMO Lies 05/05/09

Divakar S Natarajan and Varun Gandhi Cannot Both Be Wrong ! 01/28/09

And India’s editorial class will not report the story!

sathyagraha.blogspot.com

Divakar’s Sathyagraha News and views from Divakar S Natarajan’s, “no excuses”, ultra peaceful, non partisan, individual sathyagraha against corruption and for the idea of the rule of law in India.

Now in its 18th year.

Any struggle against a predatory authority is humanity’s struggle to honour the gift of life.

I can’t agree with jack here. 1962 was whole different story than what is today. Military wise both countries have grown a lot and even though Chinese have a huge defense budget and larger army, its not good enough to do what it did to India way back in 1962. As long as the Chinese are the ones attacking and India defending the victory will be with India and vice versa.

India is too strong for the Chinese to take on alone, although I admit that China has a more powerful land military. Maybe with the help of Pakistan they can do something but that will bring more players into the picture.

Posted by Rahul | Report as abusive

@“Moreover, a lot of Indians are talking up revenge and even invasion into Tibet to get even with China. It seems those people are so revengeful to believe in their military power that they never think of the consequence of being beaten up again. ”
-Posted by Jack Smith

-Jack: Then you have no idea that Indians might get into long arguments but I bet not even 1% will think the way you stated they think. DO NOT SPEAK ON BEHALF OF INDIANS. Indian foreign policy is not belligerent in nature and attack China–why?..lol. there is no good reason. But Indians do realize China is no friend of India and the feeling is mutual. With respect to all that theory of disintegrating a country, Indians know about Chinese culture but Chinese do not have an idea. India is an open culture and China is under tight lid–so theoretically India will know better what it takes to make pieces. But Indo-China trade relations are healthy and helping both countries. 1962 was a different era, China is stronger but the strengths of India and China is not disproportinate enough that China get interested in a misadventure. Times have changed and everyone is focusing on economic development, the consequences of the modern wars are heavy and can put the countries back by decades. But this also suggests moving the pieces in right places on the chessboard and Vivek pointed in that direction.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

I am amused that many Indian citizens are interested in my comment posted here. I would remind these readers to respect the historical fact of the 1962 war between India and China. It was the Indian policy and practice of “forward looking” into the Chinese border that caused the Chinese counter attack which badly damaged the reputation of the Indian politicians and military commanders. Understandably, some Indian people felt that their self-esteem was violated. But it will help us to stay in calm and peace if we can be clear-minded and impartial in dealing with neighbors. I believe China has no territory ambition on Indian soil; obviously it does not want another huge population burden on its shoulder while it has difficulty to deal with its own. But I would call some of your attention to notice the danger of allying with Japan and US to disturb China. That might be a very naive fantasy which may cause great damage only to India. I do not believe either Japan or US would come to the rescue of India if it dares to launch a war against China.

Posted by Jack Smith | Report as abusive

Two hands are needed to make a clap , it needs two to make a tango , 1+1=11, do my chinese friends need more hints.If india & china join hands then we can solve at least half of the world’s problems.Then why to talk of war & destruction why not peace & construction.

Posted by Dhee sundra das | Report as abusive

@ “That might be a very naive fantasy which may cause great damage only to India. I do not believe either Japan or US would come to the rescue of India if it dares to launch a war against China.”

Jack, I dont think India would lunch a war on china even if US came out to support..but take note India is very capable of hitting at china where it hurts most its economy..India will counter chinese military might only if challenged seriously..but India is already challenging chinese economic might which cannot be checked..be it in Africas, Australia, US,west Asia, Middle east and EU..India’s influence is growing at the cost of china’s..
Chinese tried their best..but failed terribly -one of them if you remember chinese ships with sub-standard drugs to Africa caught with “Made in India” printed on them. i think this failure on part of frustrated china is showing up as mindless incursion on border..

Posted by Anitha | Report as abusive

I do not expect the US and/or Japan to save India if a most undesirable (for both China and India) hostilities breaks out. But it does not serve Japanese, US or western interests to watch the most powerful democracy in southern Asia (whatever its failings or whatever the historical facts of the 1962 war are) to fall to Chinese hawks who advocate India’s breakup. I also do not think China desires Indian soil; however, I am also aware that China’s definition of where Indian soil begins or ends differs from India’s and international definitions. As a side note, China also apparently differs with US and international definitions of international waters as seen in an other international incident in the South China Sea recently: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/world/ asia/10iht-navy.4.20740316.html . However irksome it may be to some Chinese hawks, an alliance between key democratic countries might actually serve to deter misadventures from both the Indian and Chinese sides. (Let me also add that the Indian media can be somewhat sensationalistic at times, not an exclusively Indian trait, and they might want to consider their country over the rupees their newspapers sales and TV advertisements bring in.) Whether a US-India-Japan alliance is wise or not is debatable, of course, but I think that nearly every sane person will agree that smart and wisely chosen words – from newspaper or politician – have the power to kill or heal. The world needs a healthy China, but it also needs a healthy India. One can only hope that saner heads from both rich and wonderful civilizations prevail.

Posted by For Democracy | Report as abusive

@bulletfish

1.this list looks funny. arent u forgetting to put Premji, KP Singh and a few others in the top indians list?
2.how many of them really got their highest education courtesy of the indian goverment?
3.laxmi mittal should not be categorised as an indian, we can argue on his residentship and holding companies……….
4.y hav u left out li ka shing(hutchinson) then?
5.doesn’t this list, in combinations with the fact that we have a lower PCI than china, show that we are a much more unregulated and lop sided economy with serious issues with the distribution of wealth?
6. cornelius vanderbilt and john d rockelfeller were the richest men of their times, but america was anything than an economic superpower back then
7. what does education rly have to do with being a miilionaire?
8.wher did you do your mba from?

Posted by tadasmi | Report as abusive

The latest incursion by Chinese PLA into Indian territory and Indian Govt. response to these activities shows that India is downplaying chinese border intrusion.

We need to give attention to the statement of Mr.Brijesh Mishra that there woul be instant reaction beyond what happened in 1962.

Central Govt should take stern action otherwise this is going to be heavoc in future.

Posted by Ankush Mahajan | Report as abusive

india cant do any thing………jab pakistan ko kuchh nahi kiya .to china……..impossible.

Posted by akahil kumar | Report as abusive

if we can’t make patrol roads then lests make fields full of land mines.JOB DONE. China can’t come in. DO it before its too late.

Posted by Sandeep SIngh | Report as abusive

Indians should think about why they do not have much friends in South Asia.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

ATTENTION MODERATOR: THE PREVIOUS VERSION WAS SUBMITTED ACCIDENTALLY. PLEASE USE THIS CORRECT VERSION.

Frank, from what I’ve seen, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and other South Asians get along quite normally at a people-to-people level. But “friendships” between the South Asian countries on a national level get a little more complicated. It’s a good question that I think Indians on a governmental basis should be asking and should seriously contemplate. All countries have areas needing improvement, but the resilient Indian democracy has a way of rubbing incompatible systems the wrong way. And it is possible that the Indian democracy, economy and media have created at least a few anxieties and jealousies across the borders. Democracies are unlikely to go to war with each other, but unfortunately not all political systems in the South Asian neighborhood have had a lot of success with democracy, if at all. Let’s hope that whatever the differences between the political systems, all countries at least manage to get along. We need peace in the neighborhood.

Posted by For Democracy | Report as abusive

See these

1) http://www.indianexpress.com/news/govt-f inds-out-25k-chinese-entered-india-on-bi z-visas-but-are-in-unskilled-jobs/516740  /

2) http://newsx.com/story/62542

The puppet congressis and politicians of mecca and rome have slipped in countless Chinese into India and China has increased war tones. Will we be able to fight two wars? One with Chinese and another with the smuggled in Chinese and the Communists of India?

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

I don’t think there is hardly any need of raising this particular question again and again, when we all know the fact, “from deep down inside” that India is not going to take any action against any such activities; irrespective of Country name. From years we have been calmly watching neighbourhood countries regularly conducting all such kind of activties but the only action we take (When media take the responsibilty and highlight all these matters) is to sit for an urgent meeting with US and follow there instruction. Its sad i bet you.

Illegitimacy of Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir is in no way better than that of China.

Posted by ram | Report as abusive

If Tibet is a free country now, this issue will not be there. I wish TIBET is FREE

The news regardiing the Chinese activity along the line of Control in Sikkim and J&K states is disturbing. The Sino Indian boarder has been peaceful during the last 4 decades. The decision of the Government to allow Dalai Lama to viisit Arunachal seems to be a tactical error of judgment. China is oversensitive aboout the proposed visit of the Tibetal Spiritual Leader. We have no justified reason to incur the Chinese wrath for the sake of Dalai Lama. What is our interest in him? The talk of our independent policy in such matters smacks of idealism in preference to our national interest and security.

Every one knows that China is our main adversary. It is far stronger than India as an economic and military power. In that fateful year, 1962, our P.M. declared to evict them from our soil, but failed miserably to do so. In fact “we were caught napping”, without requisite defence preparedness. We hadn’t even good quality small arms. The relative military might between the two countries does not seem to have altered much both in conventional and nuclear capabilities. We cannot afford to repeat the past mistakes. Military and political wisdom dictates us to first concentrate on acquiring adequate strength before challenging provoking or challenging an adversary even for the justified exercise of our sogereign rights.

Posted by Vadrevu Soma Raju | Report as abusive

It is not just trust issues between these giant neighbors. Here is a thoughtful analysis:
http://news.rediff.com/slide-show/2009/s ep/18/slide-show-1-truth-behind-chinas-b order-misadventure.htm

To ponder: “Speak softly and carry a big stick” : http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/32905 0.html

Posted by Nothing wrong in being prepared | Report as abusive

we indians never believe chinese thereafter 1962. Indians now have no trust in other countries too. But we can deal with china with our democracy and it will ruin china with people to people contact and by doing so, chinese will understand Budha will and can give more advices to chinese than they gave in 1962 to us. Chinese mistake of 1962 will dare them to attack inda again. War is not Olypics and it is waste of time and lives with oss of enormous wealth and will ruin both countries which Europeans would laugh and win over the so called Asian Giants like India and China. See the fate of Japan – they (Europeans) don’t want Japan and Asia in thrones like Americans. The leaders of China must know and understand its big neighbours and settle the disputes much earlier and avoid writings against India in their dailies which Indians read and foes of China and India will utilise for their own ulterior goals. So take steps to mould the relationship.

Posted by SIVA SANKARAN | Report as abusive

The British drawn up the boundry encrouching into Tibet by Arthur H. McMohon which was never shown to the Chinese in 1914.The MacMohon Line shown as territory of British-India 23 years later. This Line added 90,000 square kilometers of Tibet’s territory into British-Indian colony. In order to have peace the Line should be redrawn. There is nothing wrong for Chinese aircraft to fly into their own territory. Please refer to history.

Posted by Laramie | Report as abusive

No one mentioned about the MacMohon Line when and how it it was drawn. When China was weak many nations took advantage and carved a piece of real estate. May be the younger gerations do not know World History during the 1900s.To the West whatever China does is wrong. How Hong Kong became a British Colony? The MacMohon Line is Not recognised by China. I am repeating History and should not be seen as libeous.

Posted by Laramie | Report as abusive