India must stop hiding from existing realities vis-a-vis China

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New Delhi, Apr.21 : India must stop from pushing existing realities vis- a -vis China under the carpet, especially on matters related to security issues if past historical mistakes have to be corrected, and the bilateral relationship is to be placed on even keel, says former Defence Minister George Fernandes and former MP Jaya Jaitly.

In article for the socialist journal "The Other Side", both Fernandes and Jaitly describe India's security concerns vis- a -vis China as being "like a particularly huge elephant in the room, sitting on our sofa, making noises from time to time, nibbling at the snacks on the plat, yet studiously ignored by large sections of the ruling establishment."

Recalling an interview that he did with Karan Thapar when he was the country's Defence Minister in 1998, Fernandes that he was pointedly asked whether China was India's Number One enemy. He replied in the negative, and when Thapar persisted and asked whether China is Threat Number One, he (Fernandes) said "No, it is potential threat number one, but we (India) are engaged in talks which should bring about a better situation."

A national daily editorially twisted that remark, Fernandes said, and it appeared as if Fernandes had admitted that China was indeed India's Enemy Number One. That period was a time when India had just carried out its second round of nuclear tests in Pokhran, and despite many clarifications, Fernandes says he was able to convince the opposition or the Left parties in the country about what he had actually said.

While claiming that he has set the record straight on his comment, Fernandes says in his article that it is necessary for Indians to know how China deals with their country on security issues, and how pathetic has been New Delhi's response to the "many uncomfortable realities" of this bilateral relationship.

Take for example the 1962 war between China and India. From the Chinese point of view, it has been historically made out that India was the invader and occupier of Chinese territory, and according to Fernandes, the Communists in India have conveniently fanned this "mistaken view" among their cadres, preventing the government of day, or the nation as a whole from taking appropriate steps to strengthen borders and make defence preparedness more effective.

Fernandes recalls his successor as Defence Minister A.K.Antony as having very recently expressed "his shock" over the lack of strategic infrastructure on India's borders with China, whereas the Chinese infrastructural development was found to be "far ahead of ours".

Fernandes is of the view that the people of India need to know the real reasons for this lack of preparedness, and need to be reassured that they will not be surprised again as they were in 1962.

While acknowledging that political, economic and cultural contacts between China and India have improved substantially since 1979, Fernandes says the area of concern is strategy and security. He says that even as late as 2006, China continues to claim large parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Tawang as part of its lost territories. The Indian Government had to also cancel a training programme for some of its bureaucrats in China after Beijing refused to give a visa to one of the bureaucrats because he hailed from Arunanchal Pradesh.

Take the issue of Tibet. Both Fernandes and Jaitly are of the view that Beijing has been quite vociferous in putting down or ignoring protests by Tibetans, but what is not taken note of from a security angle is the fact that Chinese missiles have been placed in Tibet and are in India's direction. Besides, there are 200,000 Chinese troops stationed in Tibet and on China's border with India.

Both claim that China also uses Tibet for chemical warfare exercises and toxic waste dumping.

India, on the other hand offers asylum to Tibetan refugees, but does not come out in complete support of their quest for independence from Chinese rule. Protesting Tibetans are kept well out of sight when Chinese dignitaries visit India.

"History has ample evidence that Tibet was never a part of China and has a completely separate cultural and religious foundation. India recognised this through its diplomatic outpost in Lhasa till the Tibetans were swallowed by the Cultural Revolution in China and were forced to seek refuge in India in the early 50s," say Fernandes and Jaitly. hey conclude that the Chinese Communist Party of today is eying countries bordering India like Tibet, Burma and Nepal, besides Taiwan. It is beginning to control regimes in Africa through its economic prowess, and therefore there has been no real benefit for India from this "specious engagement" with China.

ANI

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