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Hitting Back

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The enhanced Chinese presence on the Ladakh LAC has emboldened opportunists like Farooq Abdullah into seeking restoration of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir. That Pakistan, China and the separatists are working together is obvious. A Chinese spokesman has, once again, questioned India’s right over Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. Pakistan is seeking ‘tripartite’ talks on the status of J&K. These would involve India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris. India is obviously not going to take all this with any seriousness. The only way the situation can be changed is through armed conflict. So, quite obviously, having faced embarrassment owing to the face-off in Ladakh, China is attempting pressure tactics with the help of its allies to seemingly up the ante.

In the immediate scenario, India should make it clear that war with China could escalate to the nuclear level, resulting in the side-effect of Pakistan’s complete annihilation. Beijing may be far, but Islamabad is not. In the long run, India should incrementally begin to question China’s occupation of Tibet and Xinjiang, as well as its claims over Taiwan and Hong Kong. It should not be done all at once, as that would be a one-time thing. It should begin with giving greater visibility to the Dalai Lama by inviting him to important government events. Similarly, the engagement with Taiwan should be enhanced. There should be vigorous participation on human rights forums regarding the treatment of Muslims, the residents of Hong Kong and other minorities by China. There has been a traditional timidity in this regard that needs to be shed. It should be argued that China is a totalitarian state that does not deserve a place in international organisations which function democratically.

Undoubtedly, China is today a wealthy nation that carries enormous economic clout. It has purchased a large number of collaborators around the world, including in India. India’s communist parties retain a romantic notion of their relationship with their comrades in the East. Even so, the increasing realisation of the threat China poses has earned India considerable sympathy from the free world. This should be leveraged appropriately to corner China. Already, steps have been taken worldwide to reduce this economic dependence, regarding which India has been in the forefront. That leaves only the military option with China and it could, in desperation, attempt something foolhardy. So, there is need for continued alertness on the border. There is absolutely no room for backing down on any front, particularly in the face of the recent aggravations.