From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- India-China relations and border dispute
While formulating our response to China’s aggressive policies in Ladakh, we should first understand their objectives. This article explains these objective and suggests the steps to deal with China’s policies.
Statements on Aksai Chin and Pakistan
- Statements over Aksai Chin and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) by India have painted the image of India as a revanchist power in utter disregard of the country’s capabilities.
- These statements also gave the impression that India precludes any attempt at changing the status quo on either front.
- Though these statements were justifiable in terms of India’s legal rights to these territories, were ill-timed.
How these statements were perceived by China
- They were made when Beijing was feeling alarmed at the Indian government’s decision to separate Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir.
- The move augmented its perception that it was a prelude to India’s attempt to change the status quo in Aksai Chin.
- India’s assertion of its claims on PoK that in China’s perception threatened the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
China’s 4 strategic objectives
1. India and China are not equals
- China wants India to understand that it is not in the same league as China.
- China resorts to periodic assaults across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) if India tries to assume a position of equality.
2. Keep India away from interfering in Indo-Pacific
- China wants India not to actively oppose Chinese designs to dominate the Indo-Pacific region.
- Also, China wants Indias to refrain from aligning with the U.S. and its allies — Japan and Australia, in particular — in an attempt to contain China.
3. Keeping India preoccupied with problems
- China’s strategy also includes keeping India preoccupied with problems in its immediate neighbourhood.
- So with these problems, India cannot act as an alternative pole of power to China in the broader Asian region.
4. Supporting Pakistan to neutralise India
- As part of the last objective, China supports Pakistan economically and militarily, including the sharing of nuclear weapons designs.
- China uses Pakistan to neutralise India’s conventional power superiority vis-à-vis that country.
An understanding of these objectives is essential to fashioning a realistic Indian response to China’s aggressive policies in Ladakh and elsewhere along the LAC.
But, what about Pakistan?
- Pakistan is at best an irritant for India. (so, focus on China)
- Pakistan can be managed with the use of diplomatic tools, international opprobrium, and superior military force.
- In fact, the Pakistani challenge to India has become magnified because of its nexus with China.
What India should do?
- India’s main strategic goal should be the adoption of carefully calculated policies that neutralise China’s diplomatic and military clout in the Asia-Pacific region.
- While doing so, India should not appear as a surrogate for other powers.
- And India should also ensure that in making alliances it in not sacrificing the autonomy of decision-making in foreign policy.
Consider the question “Understanding of China’s objective is essential to formulate a realistic response to its aggressive policies in Ladakh.” Comment.
Understanding the greater threat posed by China vis-a-vis Pakistan should be the basis of India’s policy towards China.