In BJP led NDA-1 Narendra Modi was quite much on a whirlwind tour of the world. It is estimated that by July 2020 he had visited 60 countries with many countries a couple of times 1 , US being the exception where he visited 6 times, the place where once he was banned to enter and he visited China 5 times. Now India stands sandwiched between the two.  So overt Modi had become towards  US  that in Bishkek (June 13, 2019) , Kyrgystan capital, all the guests to the SCO conference stayed in Al Archa Presidential Palace and Modi stayed 30 kms away from it at Orion Hotel 2 .    How detestable it must have been to India, when during the on-going stand-off at Ladakh, China refused to talk to Foreign Minister S   Jaishanker pointing him to be a US man and instead to Ajit Doval on July 5, the same way China had refused to talk to Sushma Swaraj-during the Doklam face-off in 2017 3 , which had led to the present so-called de-escalation of Indian and Chinese troops.

The latest acrimony between India-China had started in May and very soon it became clear that China has intruded inside Indian territory. Why would then Modi government not enact a Balakot-2 and kill at least 300 Chinese forces the same way it had done then 4 ?  If at all that had happened? Or was Balakot (Feb 2019) just a baton to stigmatise Muslims, by way as an extension of Pakistan and communalise the Hindus to win the elections (May 2019).  The principle opposition parties like Congress, SP, BSP or RLD do not tend to ask such questions.  The situation is very starkly hard as India lost its 20 soldiers at Galwan valley in Ladakh on June 15 and Modi, who had always advocated to take-on China with a ‘red-eye’ 5 visited Nimmu, Leh on July 3, around 250 kms from where soldiers had died 6 , where he addressed the wounded soldiers, who betrayed any signs of fatigue. Such shabby tactics work only in elections which are a distant 2024.It is ironic that Russia, despite defense minister Rajnath Singh visit to Moscow(June 25 ) refused to intervene between India-China (July 3)7  and China on the same day warned-India against making a ‘strategic-miscalculation’ 8 . Interestingly, on June 19, Modi in the all-party meeting has said that ‘no one had entered Indian territory or captured any military post. 9 Who briefed him so wrongly? The China state owned media CCTV on July 6  10, showed Indian army building bridge, helipad and tents, which ultimately led to a bloody-showdown (June 15) and this puts to a piquant situation as Modi had said that no one had intruded into our territory? So, isn’t it that China entered our area or does China considered it their area, which our government has so readily agreed to leave!  Ironically, the voices are coming that China has made India to abdicate Ladakh and the new LAC is not the one agreed-upon in 1993 but of 1959. Hence, our forces which had been patrolling and building structures from the past 27 years have all been dislodged in a single one go, that too, with China not firing a single-bullet. Everyone in India is gaga that China has gone back to its LAC, whereas, the fact is that China has taken our ‘Galwan, Depsang, Hot Springs and Pangong Tso in Ladakh’ 11  . The picture of Chinese Army in total control of Pangong Tso  where the last scene of the film Three-Idiots was shot is by itself quite telling.

The three landmark steps which changed India’s foreign policy quite dramatically is the opening of Israel embassy, Indo-US nuclear-civilian deal and voting against Iran at IAEA.  India has long shrugged-off its NAM days and is with US for all purposes.  Later on Modi’s much acclaimed Chabahar (Iran) project is now lying subdued. China, the rival to India from the day-one is now eyeing Gwador port ( Pakistan) more keenly, particularly in the wake of US deploying three-aircraft carriers in South China sea  amid threats that US with India’s help would cut Malacca straits to choke China shipping routes  12. China has decided to upgrade Pakistan railways and link it from  Kashgar(China) to Gwador by an investment of 7.2 billion USD 13 . China has also announced to invest 400 billion USD in Iran as a Bilateral-Cooperation Plan which prompted Iranian Foreign Minister Javed Zarif to tweet in Chinese.

Courtesy: https://en.mfa.ir/portal/newsview/600344/zarif-tweets-in-chinese

China has increased its military presence by leaps and bounds in Tibet as even during COVID-19 pandemic there were huge military exercises in Tibet. These exercises were done alongside when Doklam crisis was on stage. ‘ PLA ( in Feb 2020) Tibet Military Command had deployed helicopters, armored vehicles, heavy artillery, and anti-aircraft missiles across the region, from Lhasa, which has an elevation of around 3,700 meters, to border defense frontlines at an altitude higher than 4,000 meters.’ 14  . The irredentist Nepal with a new-map, passed through its parliament on June 18  15, to the consternation of New Delhi is what can be called as the biggest surprise to Modi  as Nepal being a Hindu country ( therefore a pocket-borough)  has also stuck-off India’s big brother hegemony. Bangladesh is also trying to come out of India’s shadow as China has offered 97% tariff exemptions to Dhaka on its exports to China. Shiekh Hasina, the DU product,  will be find it hard in the wake-up of new proposal  16 . Srilankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered to ‘review’ its agreement signed with India and Japan in 2019, signalling strains in ties with India-courtesy China  17 .  Srilanka turned to China as India had put on ‘hold’ its ‘debt- freeze’ request 18 . Bhutan the only ally to India is also under fire as China has claimed over its wildlife-sanctuary of 650 sg kms , an area close to Siliguri or Chicken Neck Corridor , close to the state of Arunachal Pradesh which China has claimed in its entirety. The move has obviously irked New Delhi more 19  as it is well aware of the ‘Palm and Five Fingers of Tibet ’ doctrine of Mao whose call ‘then’ has romanticised China right ‘now’. Mao had referred to Tibet as China’s right hand palm and Ladakh, Nepal, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Bhutan as finally to encircle India. 20 .

India now is left to look for US only and thereafter to Israel for intelligence-sharing  21 and has therefore invited Australia 22, Japan, Taiwan into South China sea to jointly take-on China. Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia are already feeling the heat as the entire region is to be disrupted, if the war, which is quite likely to take place, as Donald Trump is to put his stake into the polls by November.  It may be recalled here that India has been playing host to Dalai Lama since 1959, 23 whom China is ‘looking for’ and by latest the Indian step of August 5, 2019 making Ladakh a UT and later Amit Shah calling to snatch Aksai Chin from China 24  seem to have got the ball-rolling in China.  War-drums are beating  as India, with its own long subdued sentiment to settle scores with China, after its debacle of 1962, has well-taken by byte of US and has made it to become a part of this ensuing tussle.

Meanwhile, US sponsored Ashraf Ghani government has refused to set-free 600 Taliban prisoners,  as US has reneged the agreement it signed with Taliban, as this will finally make US to stay in Afghanistan, 25  so as  to keep an everlasting eye on Russia and China too. There are reports that US might recognise Tibet as an independent country 26  which made China to slap visa-restrictions on US 27, and US in its place has also taken measures to evict 3,70,000 Chinese students 28 studying in US, a move which would prove detrimental to Indian students as well.

China and India have both respectively started to show a growing military activity in the Himalayan region. While India stands on a lower-ground, as defense minister Rajnath Singh running to place orders for S-400 missile system from Russia showed, which are to come by late 2021  29, there is a report published in US, a 14-page document, on June 22 2020  30 so as to warn US over the impeding China Electro Magnetic Pulse attack which would have the capacity to paralyse the whole of USA.

Modi and Amit Shah, however, have desisted to make birthday-wishes to the 85 years Dalai Lama 31, something which they both did last year.  The duo are to find that foreign-policy is not an easy cake.

The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner.  He is also a  lawyer based in Lucknow.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_international_prime_ministerial_trips_made_by_Narendra_Modi
  2. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/a-few-moments-in-nine-hours-how-pakistan-got-a-very-cold-shoulder-narendra-modi-imran-khan-sco-summit-bishek-5781601/
  3. (https://asiatimes.com/2020/07/territorial-nationalism-a-dead-end-for-modi/
  4. (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/indian-air-strike-in-balakot-killed-300-militants-sources/articleshow/68165466.cms#:~:text=NEW%20DELHI%3A%20The%20Indian%20Air,attack%20on%20a%20CRPF%20convoy.
  5. (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/when-will-pm-modi-talk-to-china-showing-his-red-eyes-congress/articleshow/61535261.cms?from=mdr)
  6. (https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3091782/indian-prime-minister-narendra-modi-visits-troops-near-chinese)
  7. (https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/russia-to-insulate-trilateral-with-china-india-from-lac-tensions-108306)
  8. (https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/07/03/business/ap-as-china-india.html).
  9. (https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-china-galwan-faceoff-border-dispute-ladakh-pm-modi-meeting-6467229/)
  10. (ndtv.com/india-news/china-tv-attempting-propaganda-on-ladakh-helps-boost-india-claim-2258289)
  11. (http://forceindia.net/cover-story/feet-of-clay/)
  12. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/hisutton/2020/07/08/could-the-indian-navy-strangle-chinas-lifeline-in-the-malacca-strait/#2dfebe9378e8)
  13. (railway-technology.com/news/pakistan-approves-7-2bn-rail-project/#:~:text=This%201%2C872km- long%20rail,in%20the%20CPEC%20phase%20two.)
  14. (https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/why-chinas-growing-military-might-in-tibet-should-worry-india/).
  15. (https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/nepals-parliament-passes-constitution-amendment-bill-to-update-map-incorporating-indian-territories/article31858573.ece)
  16. (https://www.businessinsider.in/policy/foreign-policy/news/china-offers-bangladesh-tariff-exemption-for-97-of-exports-from-dhaka-amid-tensions-with-india/articleshow/76482640.cms).
  17. (https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Sri-Lanka-s-India-ties-strained-as-Rajapaksa-rethinks-port-deal).
  18. (https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/four-months-on-sri-lanka-still-waits-for-indian-decision-on-debt-moratorium/article31934947.ece)
  19. (https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/china-lays-claim-to-a-wildlife-sanctuary-making-it-the-third-border-dispute-with)
  20. (http://southasiajournal.net/a-geo-strategic-importance-of-tibet-chinas-palm-and-five-fingers-strategy/)
  21. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340395469_India_and_Israel_Strategic_Partners_on_the_Indian_Ocean_Littoral_Indian_Ocean_Digest)
  22. (edition.cnn.com/2020/06/04/asia/india-australia-military-agreements-intl-hnk/index.html)
  23. (https://time.com/3742242/dalai-lama-1959/)
  24. (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/pok-and-aksai-chin-are-also-part-of-jammu-and-kashmir-amit-shah/articleshow/70548871.cms)
  25. ( https://www.livemint.com/news/world/afghanistan-says-will-not-release-600-too-dangerous-taliban-11594214970445.html)
  26. (https://eurasiantimes.com/us-could-recognize-tibet-as-an-independent-country-as-washington-questions-one-china-policy/)
  27. (https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/urge-us-to-stop-interfering-now-china-slaps-visa-restrictions-on-washington-officials-over-tibet/story-W4oYqeEuf57S1sZJbBMV7K.html
  28. (https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/3092242/trump-administration-limits-international-visas-leave-chinese-students)
  29. (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/russia-assures-early-delivery-of-weapon-systems-rajnath-singh/articleshow/76538956.cms?from=mdr
  30. (https://michaelmabee.info/china-emp-threat/)
  31. (indiatoday.in/india/story/no-birthday-wishes-for-the-dalai-lama-from-pm-modi-as-china-pulls-back-from-galwan-1698019-2020-07-07

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