Discovery of an entirely new village sited 2 km on the Bhutanese side of the Sino-Bhutan border, a mere 9 km from the China-India standoff in the Doklam area in 2017, is proof that the Sino-India border dispute is by no means over.
Under a treaty signed in 1949, Bhutan is an Indian protectorate with India obliged to safeguard its borders and other interests. But this new village habitation serviced by a new motorable road is perilously close to the Doklam Plateau which overlooks the narrow Siliguri pass aka Chicken’s Neck, that links mainland India to the seven sister states of north-east India including Arunachal Pradesh (83,743 sq. km) which China claims is Southern Tibet, i.e, Chinese territory.
Thus far, the response of the BJP-led NDA government to the Doklam stand-off and other Chinese incursions along the 4,000-km Sino-India border, which stretches from Aksai Chin (Ladakh) in the north-west to Arunachal in the north-east, has been to firmly declare that force will be met by force and India’s Border Roads Organisation is building motorable roads and air-fields all along the disputed Sino-India border.
It is submitted this belligerent response is ill-advised as it will play right into the strategy designed by the leadership of the unelected Communist Party of China (CPC) which rules our neighbour nation of 1.5 billion people with ruthless brutality. The CPC leadership is well aware that even a limited border war will completely disrupt the Indian economy poised to make a dramatic recovery in the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic which ironically, originated in China. Curiously, China is also the first nation to have recovered from the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic which has ruined the global economy.
Therefore, it’s important for the BJP/NDA government and all political parties to appreciate that disruption of the Indian economy at this juncture will clearly seal the position of resurgent China whose annual GDP of $15 trillion is five multiples of India’s $3 trillion, as the dominant power of Asia, including South Asia.
In the circumstances, there’s urgent need for an all-parties consensus for serious negotiations between India and China to finally settle the long pending dispute along the entire length of the 4,000 km Sino-India border in a determined spirit of give-and-take. Way back in 1959, China’s then prime minister Zhou-En-Lai had suggested India surrendering territory in the Aksai Chin region for China to accept the British imposed McMahon Line as the Sino-India boundary in the north-east.
The national interest demands that this offer is resurrected to serve as the basis of a carefully demarcated, United Nations approved, border between the two nations. Democratic India’s anti-China strategy should be to ally with democracy forces in Taiwan, Hong Kong and within communist China itself to liberate China’s 1.5 billion people from the brutal and oppressive rule of the 100 million-strong CPC by way of soft power, rather than recourse to arms.