China’s claim to an Indian state is preposterous
China has denied a visa to an official (C Ropianga) belonging to the state of Arunachal Pradesh. He was traveling with a group Indian bureaucrats to China. The Chinese claim that Arunachal is theirs, and giving a visa to Ropianga is tantamount to admitting that Arunachal is Indian territory. The denial of the visa is a humiliating gesture for India…but an expected one. This is not the first time that China has laid claims to Arunachal Pradesh in recent times. I have written a piece on this and the politics of China and India here.
India certainly has a lot to worry about where China is concerned. Specially its arms build-up and its alliances with India’s neighbours. The Chinese want the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian province (they call states, provinces) and they aren’t just disputing a small strip of land bordering China, they want the whole state. It won’t be long before they start demanding even more states – we all know that the population in various north-eastern states is closer ethnically to the Chinese rather than us Indians.
China aims to dominate Asia and once it becomes the world’s largest economy, it will be in an advantageous position to arm-twist its neighbours even further. If we think that China’s present political posturing is nasty, its not difficult to imagine what China will do after if it becomes world power number one! Everyone knows how the United States behaves today. They control the United Nations and generally dominate the world. If countries don’t fall in line, they have the money and power to attack, and they can drum up support for themselves. The US imposes sanctions, refuses to sign treaties…well, they do it because they can. Funnily, China scares me more.
You can see in this map that Arunachal borders China and that Arunachal is pretty far off from the rest of India. Literally boxed into a remote corner!
So far Arunachal has been pretty remote for China too. In fact that was one of the reasons (and also that it was sparsely populated at one time) why the British found it easy to add it to their Indian Empire. But the Chinese are fast building rail and road networks all over the country. They have speed on their side and they have the money. The day is not far when Arunachal won’t be that distant for them. They have long term plans and now they are laying the groundwork – with their political posturing.
Ethnically speaking, the residents of Arunachal may be closer to the Chinese ethnic groups than the rest of India but culturally they are more similar to India. If we go by the logic that different ethnic groups should not exist, then India as we know it will soon disappear! Kashmiris are as different from the rest of India (ethnically) as the north-easterners are and hey, so are Keralites! Bengalis are a distinct ethnic group too, and Bengalis have more in common with neighbouring Bangladesh (ethnically) than the rest of India. But can we even imagine the weak Bangla Desh demanding to usurp West Bengal? The thought is laughable. We could usurp Bangla Desh but India has never been interested. It had the opportunity during previous wars.
Borders have been drawn now and China’s attitude shows their lack of respect for international borders. It’s too late now to claim Arunachal. It also a complete lack of understanding of our India. India is a multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic country. We don’t look the same. No, not even remotely. We don’t eat similar food, we don’t wear the same kind of dress, we speak scores of languages and we celebrate our festivals even within the same religion differently. China has different ethnic groups too but their differences are far less than ours. Maybe communism made the country more homogeneous than India, I don’t know. What I do know is that China’s claim to the state of Arunachal is preposterous. And no way will India ever give up the state.
(map credits: travels.talash.com)
Related Reading: India has reasons to be wary of China militarily