Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India Foreign Minister Mrs. Sushma Swaraj finally made a belated statement that asserts India’s national interest. She conveyed to her Chinese counterpart that since India respects the One-China policy Beijing must also respect a One-India policy. This is good as far as it goes but it does not go far enough.
Mrs. Swaraj said: “When China’s foreign minister came, we gave them a message we believe in a One-China policy. You should believe in a One-India policy. We also want that they should appreciate our sensitivities regarding Arunachal Pradesh.”
India’s acceptance of a One-China policy implies endorsing Beijing’s stand on Tibet, Taiwan and Xingjian. In return for that to demand that Beijing accept India’s stand on Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Kashmir is not enough. There is need to recognize history.
Tibet was an independent nation annexed by foreign invaders who ruled China to create an empire. Han Chinese inherited Tibet and it is now under Beijing’s control. Its legal status remains in dispute according to international jurists. Xingjian was annexed and became part of present China in 1949 after the Soviet Union with a strong presence in Central Asia exerted its influence over Xingjian Uighurs to accept Mao’s rule.
Taiwan has a long complex history and was an independent island later peopled by migrants from adjacent China. For a time it was ceded to Japan, then annexed by western powers, and finally ceded to China by the US and Britain. During Chinese rule it was headed by Chiang Kai-shek during his civil war against Mao. It retains its notional legal existence as the Republic of China distinct from the People’s Republic of China.
These territories cannot be equated only with Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir. Pakistan and Bangladesh were fully part of India unlike Taiwan, Tibet or Xingjian were ever part of China. Therefore to respect a One-India policy Beijing must stop meddling in Pakistan and Bangladesh and create no impediments to the emergence of a South Asian Confederation. The dispute with China is not about boundary but about turf. India recognizes Tibet, Taiwan and Xingjian as part of China’s turf.
Beijing must recognize Pakistan and Bangladesh to be part of India’s turf. As a democracy India seeks special relations with these two nations without diluting their sovereignty. China as a dictatorship is unable to do that. It seeks total assimilation through regimentation. India does not interfere with how Beijing resolves its problems. Beijing must not interfere with how India resolves its problems. The time is propitious for India to achieve a final settlement with China. India has leverage as never before. It must exploit it. President Xi as a realist might respond. And finally, it is a silly notion that trade relations should be de-linked from strategic considerations. Blocking Chinese imports will hurt Beijing more than it will hurt us. India should press home its advantage. Prime Minister. Modi’s government has made a good beginning. It must stay on course.