On October 22, 2010, People’s Republic of China has launched an official online mapping service and has formally claimed the entire state of ‘Arunachal Pradesh’ and Aksai Chin region of India’s Ladakh region of the State of Jammu and Kashmir as its own territory. Beijing claims Arunachal Pradesh and has named that area as ‘Southern Tibet’. The Simla Agreement of 1914, and the McMahon Treaty between British India, Tibet, and Manchu China had established the McMahon Line as the legitimate boundary between India and Tibet. Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh was under Tibetan domination during early 19th century. Tibetans consider Tawang as holy land as their Sixth Dalai Lama, Tsang Yang Gyatso ( The Precious Ocean of Pure Melody ), a great poet was born there during 1683. However, the 13th Dalai Lama had ceded this territory to British India and had agreed that McMahon Line determines the Indo-Tibetan border. During Communist China’s unilateral military attack on India in 1962, the Indian government had declared that McMahon Line as the official boundary between India and Tibet which came under China’s military occupation since 1950.
India and China have already held 13 rounds of talks to resolve the boundary issue. General Shankar Roychowdhury, PVSM, ADC served as India’s Chief of Army Staff from 22 November 1994 to 30 September 1997. In a recent article published in The Asian Age, he described problem of the future security of Arunachal Pradesh. So also, India’s Chief of Army Staff, General V K Singh while addressing a seminar on “Indian Army : Emerging Roles and Tasks” on October 19, 2010 said that China and Pakistan are “irritants” for India.
TIBET’S INDEPENDENCE IS INDIA’S SECURITY : SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE DEFENDING FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY IN TIBET:
China’s military occupation of Tibet in 1950 has subjected India to a variety of pressures. India will forever be subjected to pressures: militarily, politically, environmentally, and now, sharing of River waters if Tibet remains under Chinese military occupation. India, for its own Security, and for the future Security of Arunachal Pradesh needs Tibet to exist as a ‘Buffer Zone’ between India and China. Tibetan People have their legitimate Rights to defend their own Culture, Religion, Language, National Identity, Tibetan Buddhist Institutions and historical freedom to their own way of life. People of the entire Free World must come together and demand Tibet’s Independence from illegal Chinese occupation. The bilateral trade and commerce between China and India has allowed China to loot and plunder India’s natural resources without firing a bullet. China has colonized India and is exploiting its natural resources without the need for military occupation. China may not launch or initiate a large-scale military invasion of India as long as this lucrative trade in minerals and manufactured goods flourishes. However, India cannot afford to ignore this security threat and risk posed by China’s military occupation of Tibet. Tibet’s Independence would be in India’s interest and it would be India’s Security.
THE SPIRITS OF SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE:
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THE ASIAN AGE:
General Shankar Roychowdhury
All wars commence in the mind, and escalate with words. “Zhang Nan” or “Southern Tibet”, the designation bestowed by the People’s Republic of China on India’s state of Arunachal Pradesh bordering Tibet, is one such example. China now claims Arunachal Pradesh as its historic territory comprising the three southern districts of the Tawang Tract unilaterally acquired by the then British Empire after the Treaty of Simla in 1913. New demands, which were first articulated around 2005, initially concerned Tawang as a traditional tributary region of Lhasa, being the birthplace of the Sixth Dalai Lama (Tsangyang Gyatso, enthroned 1697, probably murdered 1706 by Mongol guards who were escorting him to Beijing under arrest). Subsequently, a day prior to the visit of China’s President Hu Jintao to India in 2006, Sun Yuxi, the then Chinese ambassador to India, stridently reiterated in public China’s claims to the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh in a deliberately provocative gesture designed to put New Delhi on notice of Beijing’s intention to dominate the agenda of interaction according to its own priorities. In a longer-term perspective, these needlessly provocative claims could escalate to a flash point with the potential to provoke a major confrontation between the two countries, and create an existential crisis for the entire region, a contingency for which India has to prepare itself adequately.
Indian reaction has been characteristically muted, constantly choosing to soft pedal and play down the issue — a unilateral gesture of restraint regardless of the degree of blatant provocation, which exasperated many in this country. It is seen as making a virtue out of necessity, because India has neglected to build up the requisite capabilities to adopt stronger alternatives. This is surely an unenviable position for a country seeking to promote itself as a major power for a permanent seat on the Security Council.
The present Sino-Indian equation is almost irresistibly reminiscent of the run-up to the Sino-Indian border war of 1962, and provides a fascinating playback of China’s postures at that time with its disconcertingly similar sequence of claims along the McMahon Line in North East Frontier Agency (Nefa), as well as along the Uttar Pradesh-Tibet border and in Ladakh, as relics of historic injustices perpetrated in earlier days by British imperialists. A naive and militarily ill-prepared India, with an exaggerated self-image of its own international relevance as a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, had sought to dissuade a determined China with platitudinous Nehruvian philosophies of anti-colonial solidarity, all of which were contemptuously disposed of by “a whiff of grapeshot” on the desolate slopes of the Namkha Chu and Rezang La. India’s collapse and comprehensive downsizing in short order in 1962 was primarily because it lacked military capability vis-a-vis China, a fatal flaw which has a disconcerting tendency of repeating itself when lessons of earlier debacles wear off from the country, as they seem to be doing now. “1962 redux” is slowly grinding into gear again, with end results unforeseeable, except that an enhanced replay at some stage (2020?) can never be totally discounted. India must not repeat its follies of the past because this time around it has been adequately forewarned.
To recover and reunify what it perceives as its lost territories, notably Tibet and Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China has never swerved from its other such claims pertaining to areas along the Sino-Soviet and Sino-Indian borders, besides smaller island entities in the South and East China Seas, to which has now been added the complete territory of India’s Arunachal Pradesh under its new Chinese appellation.
India has to evaluate the threat potential of the situation dispassionately but realistically, having reference to China’s demonstrated determination to set its own history in order. Tibet was successfully concluded in 1950 when the People’s Liberation Army marched into the country against a feeble and disjointed resistance, and re-established China’s authority. Taiwan has been an infructuous effort so far only because of the massive support and protection of the United States, which has guaranteed the independence of that country with the presence of its Seventh Fleet.
China is obviously very much ahead of India in military capabilities, a comparative differential which will be further skewed with Pakistan’s resources coming into play. India has to develop its own matching capabilities in short order, especially the ability to reach out and inflict severe punitive damage to the heartlands of its adversaries, howsoever distant. There would be national, regional and international repercussions that would severely affect the direct participants as also close bystanders like Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan, if not countries further afield as well.
Any future Sino-Indian conflict is a doomsday scenario, straight out of Dr Strangelove, a zero-sum calculus that must not allowed to occur. China must restrain itself regarding its alleged claims to India’s Arunachal be Pradesh. History has moved on — attempts to reverse it are futile.
Gen. Shankar Roychowdhury is a former Chief of Army Staff and a former Member of Parliament.