Is India downplaying Chinese border intrusions?
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.
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?