This is part-2 of an article on India-China face-off, after the violent clash of June 15 night.
Read Part1, published on June 27,2020 with this title: Blaming PM Modi Now for “Surrender to China” is Nothing but Competing in Jingoism.
Now it’s BJP Vs Congress War of words on China that tops headlines, exposed Part-1. That focused on the hypocritical, mutual blame game to deceive people and incite jingoism, presently targeting China. India had annual joint military exercises for 7-8 times,until Dec 2019. India, Modi-led too, imported from China raw materials used for bullet-proof jackets meant for soldiers etc until PMO asked for a review after June 15 incidents.
But both parties maintain formal relations, fairly long and deep, not only with China, but China Communist Party (CPC) also.
BJP now blaming Congress for its China ties, had called for close contact between leaders of India and China to advise solutions at economic, political and cultural levels. BJP delegation was invited to China.BJP leaders’delegation visited CPC’s political school in 2014; and wanted to “study the CPC’s internal party structure, political functioning and its role in establishing a welfare society.”
“China has not captured any Indian territory or crossed the borders” : PM
June 15 clash in which 20 Indian soldiers died, the first fatalities along China border in 45 years, was made into a turning point , in drumming up jingoism. Any objective analysis is made difficult, but is essential for restoring status quo ante, as insisted by India.
Now is the time for a look back some of the issues involved in a cooler mood. What was written before June 15 clash will be more useful to unravel what happened later. Surrender, martyrdom, blood –such are the words that cloud and confound the vision, but one must go beyond and be objective.
After weeks of jingoistic, high voltage propaganda in the media – even more sober voices and channels joined the chorus – about the “aggressive” China and its “intrusions”, almost no one had expected the statement from PM Modi in the All Party Meet (APM) on June 19,2020….focused mainly on June 15 clash. This is what Modi said there as per ndtv.com :
Neither is anyone sitting inside our borders nor is any post been captured. The entire country is hurt and angered by what China did at the LAC (Line of Actual Control),” PM Modi said, categorically rejecting suggestions that the Chinese had intruded and were sitting on Indian territory.
“I want to assure you that our forces will spare no effort to protect our nation. Today, we have the capability that no one can look at even an inch of our territory,” PM Modi said.
“While we have given a free hand to our armed forces, diplomatically too we have made our stand clear to China. India wants peace and friendship but protecting its sovereignty is supreme,” he added.
…he wanted to assure the nation that the sacrifice of Indian soldiers would not go in vain and India, while peace-loving, is capable of giving a fitting reply if provoked.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said that ”there was no intelligence failure” in the violent face-off in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, which claimed the lives of 20 Indian Army soldiers.
To sum up…the official position is this:
”there was no intelligence failure”…“Neither is anyone sitting inside our borders nor is any post been captured… Modi said, categorically rejecting suggestions that the Chinese had intruded and were sitting on Indian territory.
The whole debate on what happened, and what is ahead , is linked to the above.
“There are no intrusions. They are not on our territory.The LAC is not marked on the ground, there is no agreement on it” : Gen VK Singh
The above is the thrust of what was clarified by Gen VK Singh. There were questions raised and aspersions cast on Modi, by Congress and some others too. A keen reading of this Interview by General VK Singh, to Hindustan Times (HT), will clarify many issues if one is really interested in answers.
General VK Singhformer Chief of Army Staff(COAS -in office until May 2012),during UPA-2, from March 2010-May2012, later became a Minister in NDA-1, 2014-19, in Foreign Ministry, and now in NDA-2 as Minister, Road Transport and Highways, obviously linked to Border Roads etc., which is crucial in the current episode. Thus he is a competent and authentic voice of the Indian State. He was connected with both UPA and now NDA, has continuity, is well-informed, with first hand info, we may say.
He gave an interview to Hindustan TimesJun 21, 2020, i.e., after the deadly clash and after the All Party Meet.His answers carry lot of weight, and answer many questions raised by Congress and others too, including chauvinists, hence important.
See Excerpts below, (emphases added):
His main thrust is :
‘War and use of force is the last resort always and every time….There are many means available…‘Let’s hurt them economically’…
Q: As an ex-army chief what is your reading of the ground situation?
A: It is firmly in control of the Indian troops. There are no intrusions. There are transgressions, not intrusions.
Where (petrol point) PP 14 is concerned, there is no intrusion whatsoever. Where PP 15 area is concerned, every year they have been trying to transgress and every year we push them to go back.
(It means, we may say, nothing new that is adverse to India happened.)
Q: There are questions about the policy of using arms at LAC too.
A: In the dark of the (June 15) night… you are among 600 people carrying weapons, you don’t know where your people are. What happens if somebody fires breaking the agreement? These agreements have been there and both sides are adhering to it, if one side breaks it then the other side will also break it.
So far, we haven’t had any problems. That is why this pushing and jostling took place, otherwise firing would’ve taken place…
There are protocols that have come into being over a period of time after negotiations of the border peace and treaty agreement and unfortunately, you have to follow them. [If] You want to break them, then somebody should take a decision. If Congress is so concerned about it, they should have broken it and not gotten into it.
As a military man, I can say, I don’t think the military wanted it and I don’t think the military was even consulted on it.
(We may add : The agreement not carry fire arms during patrols in such areas was taken during Congress regime, as other authentic reports confirm. That is what he was hinting at.)
The first thing that has been given out is to boycott Chinese goods, let’s start with this. Let’s hurt them economically other things will follow.
War and use of force is the last resort always and every time. When all other means fail then you resort to this. There are many means available.
The answers need to be studied carefully to grasp the situation. There are many other sources authentic facts, which came out before the physical clash of June 15 night, that corroborate what he said. Some of them were covered in this series in countercurrents.org. There is no place for jingoism.
Incidentally, many of them are corroborated by independent and China’s media also.
What is the perception of an outsider , who is independent, but not pro-US? Senior media man Yonden Lhatoo, Chief News Editor at the SCMP ( South China Morning Post), wrote on 20 Jun, 2020 :
All we know so far about the worst bloodletting between India and China in 60 years of border tensions is what we can glean from Indian media reports. They are mostly unverified, nationalistic, one-sided accounts citing anonymous sources, but will have to suffice in the absence of more official details about what went down in one of the most desolate places on the planet… it was a showdown at 14,000 feet came after military commanders on the ground had agreed that both sides would pull their troops away from one flash point to create a buffer zone above the confluence of the Galwan and Shyok rivers.
And how is the US seeking to fish in troubled waters?
Trump claimed he would mediate, but see how US exploits June15.
Photo : PTI/AP
Even after PM Modi and Military Chief clarified that “There are no intrusions. They (Chinese) are not on our territory…,” Pompeo drags the June 15 incidents (that were localized, exceptional that occurred after almost 50 years) into the Indo-Pacific Strategy, and seeks to add a ideological dimension of democracy Vs Communism (CCP). See his remarks:
I hope that theChinese Communist Party (CCP) will begin to recognize that if they want to rise, if they want to continue to build out their nation, that they need to do so on a Western rule set that honors the rule of law and honors freedom and respect for sovereignty.
Speaking in virtual conference of the Copenhagen Democracy Summit earlier on June 19 Friday, he made loaded statements referring to the CCP and its military(PLA) :
“But the CCP isn’t just a rogue actorin its own neighborhood…The PLA has escalated border tensions – we see it today in India, the world’s most popular – populous democracy.,. And we watch as it militarizes the South China Sea and illegally claims more territory there, threatening vital sea lanes, a promise they broke again”
It is “ no longer enough to listen to what the CCP is saying. We can see their actions. I ticked through a few of them: Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, what they’re doing in India, what they’ve done in the economic zones along the Philippines and Malaysia and Indonesia and Vietnam, the coercion on Australia…”
(hindustantimes.com, June 20, 2020)
It is worse than the devil quoting the scriptures for a US that bombed countries, Presidential Palaces, murdered Presidents, that killed millions of civilians, including lakhs of children and women, across the world in recent past, to advise China to honor the rule of law and honor freedom and respect for sovereignty.
They are not mere words.US beefed up military budget allocations for specified interventions. It recently went in for legislation on issues pertaining to hina’s Tibet, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, not to speak of Iran and others. Some respect for sovereignty!
And US uses the excuse of June 15 to shift 25000 of its troops from Europe to Asia! See this PTI report of June 26, 2020:
US shifting troops to face Chinese threat to India: Pompeo
“ Pompeo said on June 25, at Brussels Forum, that the Chinese threat to India and Southeast Asian nations is one of the reasons America is reducing its troop presence in Europe and deploying them to other places.”
He said the actions of the ruling CCP (a ‘rogue actor’)meant there were ‘threats to India, threats to Vietnam, threats to Malaysia, Indonesia and the South China Sea challenge….We are going to make sure the US military is postured appropriately to meet the challenges,” he said. Last week Pompeo criticised the Chinese Army for ‘escalating’ the border tension with India and militarising the strategic South China Sea.
Did any of these countries ask for US troops? None. US decided and began to shift troops from Germany, for its own strategic reasons, and Pompeo found an alibi for that. Then comes the gem of his statement :
Pompeo said that the CCP wants to undo all the progress the free world has made through institutions like the NATOand adopt a new set of rules and norms that accommodate Beijing.
“The PLAhas escalated border tensions with India, the world’s most populous democracy. It’s militarising the South China Sea and illegally claiming more territory there, threatening vital sea lanes,” Pompeo said, a day after he expressed deep condolences to India on the death of 20 Indian soldiers on June 15.
He speaks of a free world and a rule-based world made by NATO,the aggressor NATO alliance led by US that killed millions of civilians of several countries that are far away from US. He has the cheek to offer deep condolences to India, India alone; and to advise China to honor the rule of law and honor freedom and respect for sovereignty… And blames China for an incident, that occurred after 45 years, in which 20 Indians plus around 40 Chinese soldiers were killed.
And Indian ruling elite, more so their Big media enthusiastically welcome the devilish US support to India, oblivious of the fact that the bilateral issues are being complicated, once again, sheerly for imperialist strategic ends of US, even while Pompeo was rushing to meet a China diplomat for America’s own political ends. See this:
Just before making the above statements, Pompeo was in Hawai to meet a key Chinese diplomat : US has its own agenda for Indo-Pacific, and engages with China as part of that. It uses India and its clash with China for its own strategic ends, and immediate political goals ; it has no special love for India beyond that.Trump is now driven by policies to get re-elected at any cost.
South China Morning Post (SCMP), a leading independent media House of the Asia Pacific Region, which is not part of the Western media cartels, published an OpEd byXie Maosongon 23 Jun, 2020 that reveal US moves with China:
It was Pompeo who initiated the US-China summit in Hawaii on June 17
and suggested that it be held on the historically significant island of Honolulu, in the midpoint of the Pacific Ocean…At this critical moment, his decision to send Pompeo to Hawaii can only have been for one objective: to improve Trump’s chances of re-election…
Trump hopes to score points with American voters by being seen to be keeping “maximum pressure” on China, forcing concessions from Beijing, particularly in securing bigger commitments to purchase US goods, while continuing to suppress Chinese hi-tech companies, in particular Huawei…
Given these US concerns, last week’s US-China summit was always going to be more about constructive negotiation than sabre-rattling, especially since Pompeo’s counterpart, top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi, (also a Polit Buro Member of CCP) is highly experienced and familiar with Pompeo.
(Xie Maosong is a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In SCMP.)
At a time, India’s PM and miltary Chief said“no intrusions…The LAC is not marked on the ground, there is no agreement on it”, and after both sides agreed to de-escalate the border tensions; and after India formally said US mediation is not needed; the US seeks to fish in troubled waters; rather they trouble the waters and seek to fish, as can be seen below:
Meanwhile, leading US experts on the region have commented on the India-China violent face-off and said that the Chinese military’s aggressive maneuvers posed a threat to the entire region.
“We are still learning the details of a violent clash last night between the militaries of India and China along their border,” US Senator Marsha Blackburn said.
But they already came to decisions to fish in troubled waters, and dragged Nepal too, into their Asia-Pacific Strategy. And hinted at flaring up and exploiting Tibet.
“The PLA’s aggressive maneuvers in India and Nepal affect the stability of the entire region and point to the increased militarization of the Tibetan plateau, which China has ruled with an iron fist for decades,”Blackburn said.
If there is one lesson for the US to draw from this, it is that the India-China border needs to be on the US foreign policy radar screen as a frontline for Chinese assertiveness, said Alyssa Ayres from the US Council on Foreign Relations.South Asia is a vital and central part of the Indo-Pacific, not a sideline, Ayres said.
Ashley J Tellis from the Carnegie Endowment for International Relations said the planned disengagement was now “somewhat in jeopardy”….”What has happened in the last 24 hours changes this dynamic quite significantly because lives have now been lost on both sides. This suggests to me that Sino-Indian relationship can never go back to the old normal,” Tellis said.
(Lalit K Jha reported from USA. https://www.rediff.com/news/report/closely-monitoring-india-china-situation-says-us/20200617.htm?print=true)
Is it PM’s surrender to China ? Or Congress subservience to US ?
In such a context, some forces in India, more so an opportunist Congress, make jingoist statements, call it PM’s surrender to China; much of the Big Media, known to be manufacturing news and Consent for imperialism, keeps harping on it, with double-tongued ruling classes, including BJP and Delhi, prodding it all.
Is Congress serving India, or serving US imperialism as a junior partner, like they were doing it for decades? Knowingly or unknowingly, some others also, are doing the same; and the same applies to them.
If they, or any section of non- BJP parties, want to oppose and fight Modi and the chauvinist BJP, they need not compete with it in jingoism and equally reactionary policies. There are any number of burning issues of India and its people which they can champion, even if for their narrow electoral ends.
People should reject such policies, and seek peace and development.
Can we then take official statements at their face value? What are the other issues involved in this? That needs more discussion.
Ramakrishnan is a media person