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Crawling before Beijing
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
In 2005 China signed an agreement with India stating that in resolving the border dispute no settled populations would be exchanged. This was part of the “guiding principles and political parameters” for a final settlement of the border dispute. This written commitment by China was soon trashed through ad hoc comments from Chinese diplomats and through its government owned media which continued to describe Arunachal Pradesh as Chinese South Tibet. India never seriously took up this brazen violation of a written commitment by the Chinese government. Instead New Delhi continued to expand commercial ties with China creating a substantial adverse balance of trade.
During the recent visit of Premier Wen Jiabao to India the government did raise its concerns about Arunachal Pradesh and the issuing of stapled visas to residents of Kashmir which indicated that China considered Kashmir to be disputed territory. Premier Wen promised to look into these concerns. While in India he took the liberty of criticizing Indian media for spoiling Sino-Indian relations. After bagging more trade deals he returned to Beijing via Pakistan.
After his departure Chinese troops encroached into Indian territory in Ladakh and forcibly prevented Indian workers from performing their tasks. The Indian government through its Army Chief and External Affairs officials downplayed the incident. The Army Chief said that the matter was not serious but merely reflected the differing perceptions of both governments about where the Line of Control lay. That assurance was heartening. The right of Chinese soldiers to order stoppage of work by Indians on Indian territory also arose from their differing perception about who could boss Indian workers. The dispute about Arunachal Pradesh as well as indeed about the entire border is not worrisome because it reflects merely the differing perceptions of Beijing and New Delhi.
Now instead of curtailing the issue of stapled visas to residents of Kashmir, Beijing has also started to issue stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh. The Indian government said that China should follow “a uniform practice” in issuing visas. So will China now start issuing stapled visas to all Indians?
If the government is cool about Beijing’s conduct, the political parties are cooler. The Chinese Communist Party recently established fraternal relations with the Indian National Congress. So next time around when Sonia Gandhi rather than the Indian President or Prime Minister represents India as she did in the Beijing Olympics, it would be more in order. The CPI-M was already a Chinese poodle. Now the BJP has joined it to become another Chinese poodle. BJP President Nitin Gadkari was invited to China by a visiting Chinese delegation last November. Next week undeterred by Beijing’s recent snub through stapled visas for Arunachal he will embark on his five day goodwill visit to China.
It appears that some faint murmurs of disapproval were raised within the party. But they were quickly overcome by the majority view. The party spokesman Tarun Vijay said: “The Chinese government has been in touch with the BJP and RSS.” He proudly added, “In fact the South Asia Study Centre in the Sichuan University is completing a book on the RSS in Chinese.”
Chinese Ambassador in India said: “It is an extremely important visit for us and we will accord Mr Gadkari a very warm welcome in China.” That is diplomacy.
Meanwhile China expands trade with India to its own advantage, encroaches militarily across the border and disputes India’s claims to Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh. That is strategy.
Mr Gadkari before his forthcoming visit said: “I am very keen to visit the local neighbourhood community to learn about party building at grassroots level in China.” That is sycophancy.
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01/15/2011 16:08 PM
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