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China’s claim to an Indian state is preposterous

May 27, 2007

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

14 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2007 8:41 pm

    Indian claims of multi-ethnic will not affect China if it decides to capture Arunachal Pardesh.What have we done of region of J&k taken away by China other than displayin it on the maps of India in primary school. Being closely associated with some Arunachli peoplewhat worriesme most is thar India can not counter Chinese attack(if China does) so its high time that India should clear its stand vehemently before its too late. Otherwisw millions of rupees will be wasted on war and will be a setback to Indian economy.

  2. pronoy deep permalink
    November 23, 2007 2:40 pm

    IF CHINA IS PLANNING TO TAKE OVER ARUNACHAL PRADESH AS IT BEEN WIDELY PUBLISHED IN MEDIA AND I FELL WORDL COMMUNITY IN NOT UNKNOWN TO IT, THEN WHY THE GOVERMENT IS NOT MAKING A CONCRETE STEP TO PROTECT THE INTREGITY OF THE COUNTRY.AND MAKING A WIDE PUBLICITY PROTEST…..

  3. Lawrence Richards permalink
    February 10, 2008 10:57 pm

    China is after Assam oil, stupid Indian leaders are weak, It is a sacred place for Hindu’s.

  4. Vishnu Sharma permalink
    April 3, 2008 9:52 am

    All this worry can abate once the government at the center makes the right decisions.

    We need at-least 2.0 million troops in the Eastern states.
    We need at least 1.0 million troops in The Eastern Sector
    to be mountain divisions who are experts in mountain warfare.
    We need to expand the Ladakh Scouts to be a full fledged mountain divsion and add more like Kumaoni and Garhwali mountain divisions. We also need an entire air fleet in the eastern sector giving close air support to our troops.

    The terrain in Arunachal Pradesh is mountainous.
    It is not easy to grab land in mountainous areas, which are not tankable (ie. conducive to armoured warfare)

    Heavy Casualities can be easily inflicted on the other party also.

    All we need to do is improve logistics and allow for proximal air support and increase troop strength with specialized troops.

    1962 cannot be repeated because at that time we had
    no concept of mountain warfare at all and Nehru was reluctant to use the Indian air force which would have severely hampered chinese incursions.

    With the current unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang
    it will be interesting to see how long china’s hold over Tibet and its eastern provinces will last.

    At the same time no efforts should be spared on our part.

  5. krenim permalink
    April 3, 2008 2:38 pm

    Hello Mr Sharma!
    long time no see :)

    I agree with most of what you said in your strategy however might i suggest long range cruise missiles to disrupt the railway in tibet ~50 should be up to the job in addition to an implicit threat to take out china’s oil supply by blockading the straits of malacca via long range interceptors with exocet type missiles should do the trick.
    Of course the chinese aren’t stupid as their basic arrangement is to get most of their oil over land from russia and other central asian countries and via pakistan to their western provinces parallel to the karakoram highway.
    A quick reallignment is in order
    West+India+friends(Japan/Latin America) Vs China,Iran and Russia,though I doubt the russians are paricularly fond of the chinese notice how they always sell you better arms and the chinese always copy and export theirs.Apparently arms transfers have fallen off a cliff.Though they figure they can leverage china by being their largest energy supplier so this is an alliance of convenience not conviction.

    I call for an asian NATO one in which the west will give india air cover to defend itself against china.
    I

  6. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    April 3, 2008 5:02 pm

    Krenim,

    //…I call for an asian NATO one in which the west will give india air cover to defend itself against china.//

    Without emoticons it’s difficult to judge how serious you are. So thank you but no thank you :-) .

    Perhaps you have heard of SEATO and CENTO both set up after NATO (1949) as part of the post-WW2 US (and British) grand design against alleged Soviet expansionism and the Communist threat to world democracy.

    ***

    SEATO (est. 1954) was envisaged by the Eisenhower regime as a “no trespassing” sign to Beijing and Moscow vis-a-vis SE Asia. With this, the US believed, Congress would support the use of military force in any future crisis in Southeast Asia.

    SEATO included the US, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan.
    S Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia could not be members owing to prohibitions in the relevant Geneva Treaty, but could ask for protection under a separate protocol to the treaty. India, Burma, and Indonesia preferred to maintain a neutral stance toward China and the USSR, and did not join.

    Unlike NATO in Europe, SEATO did not create its own military structure, nor did it require members to respond if one of them was attacked. In the event of aggression or subversion in area covered, the signatories were to consult and to meet the common danger in keeping with their own constitutional processes.

    Despite the deliberately vague wording of the SEATO charter, the Johnson administration claimed in 1965 that it allowed and even required the build‐up of US forces in S Vietnam. However, only Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand among the SEATO nations joined the US in sending combat troops to Vietnam. Pakistan withdrew from the alliance in 1972. After the Vietnam War, SEATO was dissolved in 1977.

    ***

    CENTO (est 1955) was formed at the urging of the US and Britain to counter the threat of Soviet expansion into W Asia. It was a bit of a non-starter. Iraq withdrew in 1959 after its anti-Soviet monarchy was overthrown. In that same year the US became an associate member. After the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979, Iran withdrew and CENTO was dissolved.

    ***

    SO, you’ll see there have been not one but two “Asian NATOs” in the last 50 years. India was not part of either, and there is no reason to suppose that third-party intervention will help it resolve its differences with China. Quite on the contrary, at a time when the erstwhile First World is in desperate need of kickstarting its struggling economies through external belligerent engagements, it becomes all the more imperative that the two largest countries and oldest civilisations go maturely about the task of solving their own problems. Even if this means recourse to military means, it will not escalate into WW3, which the option you propose almost certainly will.

  7. sangos permalink
    May 9, 2008 5:06 pm

    China’s border attitude – Whys and hows…think its simplistic.
    1. Arunachal Pradesh is “South Tibet” extension of the Nyingchi and Shannan prefectures. And its IMPORTANT to annex AP to complete annexation of Tibet into China.

    2. Aksai Chin is not as important now with alternative modern communication systems available to Xinxiang province. Maybe we can keep it..maybe…we will return it to India

    3. Keep aggressive posturing along the border to impress upon India that we want AP in China.

    4. Keep talking to India with a big stick(read nuclear). I suspect the Chinese firmly believe India is weak(They have a reason from 1962). Any sign of India bolstering itself be it the recent nuclear deal with US(though a useless one) makes the Chinese go nuts.

    As to how to respond go figure..

  8. vish permalink
    October 4, 2008 12:33 pm

    I have no idea what’s going on here..
    here are some points.

    firstly, china can’t attack India. India is a nuclear country. and nuclear countries are invincible to a full scale conventional warfare. because last stand anyone has before accepting defeat is to launch the nukes.

    moreover, to engage in a conventional warfare with a country like india, u need over 2 million troops.. china has just over 2 million troops, but all of them cant be deployed at the same time.. and china is more worried about its economy. it wont spend half a trillion on a war.

    and above all, US and Russia are India’s staunch allies. Russia will intervene as it did during the Bangladesh-war.
    And US doesnt want an Asia controlled by China. thats why it signed a nuclear deal with india. it wants india to be stronger than China.

    @vishnu sharma: India cant deploy 2 million troops. because india has less than 2 million troops including reserve troops. do u have any idea what 2 million troops mean. US sent 100k troops to iraq and won the war (and had a severe budget deficit).

    @krenim: what do u mean by asia’s nato at this point of time? who will be its members? for an organization like nato, countries need to have comparable power. in asia, there are only two powerful countries, india and china.. and they are enemies. so, they cant join the same camp. or u can have two camps. nato1 and nato2, one for both india and china. but then it wont resolve any war. it will just drag a couple of smaller countries into it too. and if u have forgotten, india follows NAM. it wont join a military camp.

    • Raj permalink
      August 27, 2009 8:59 pm

      vish, there a few points I believe you’re missing here:
      1. Being nuclear does not make you invincible. China can still attack India and vice versa: with all due respect, to think otherwise is rather naive.
      2. Your reasoning that conventional warfare will be averted due to financial reasons, while valid, are not entirely correct. As China ceded territory to Britain, U.S. and Japan during the 19th & 20th centuries through colonialism, much of the driving force in China is national pride. Given its previous period of weakness, China is no longer tolerant of any perceived “taking of its territory”- even if others believe that the territory in question (be it AP or Taiwan) does not belong to China. Thus, even if it’s expensive, the Chinese are willing to spend if that’s what it takes to uphold their national pride.
      3. Your assertion that the U.S. and Russia are Indian allies does not take into consideration the fact that, at least economically, they are both allies with China as well. China is financially powerful- the Russians cannot even begin to compete with them- this ain’t the 1950s anymore! China can outspend the Russians in military spending any day of the week and the Russians know it. Moreover, the Chinese are Russia’s biggest military customer: are you telling us that Russia is going to start shooting at its biggest customer because it’s in a war with India? The reality is that, given the choice, Russia will happily sell arms to both China and India- and encourage both of them to continue fighting so that it can increase its military sales! As for the U.S., China owns them. Literally. All that U.S. debt belongs to China. Sure, America will spin off a line or two about human rights to keep the “patriots” back home happy but if China says “jump!” the U.S. jumps! Without the Chinese, the U.S. market is dead and they know it. Your belief that the U.S. or former U.S.S.R. will jump to your aid is nostalgic at best.
      4. Finally, it’s easier to point out the splinter in your neighbour’s eye rather than see the log in your own. India has needless border disputes with neighbours such as Nepal: for example, India has occupied Kalopani in northern Nepal since it sent troops to the region to fight the Chinese in 1962. Maybe if India actually pulled out of the territories of its smaller neighbours it would have more sympathy from them in its quest to resolve AP and Kashmir. It’s difficult to have sympathy for one who cries “I’ve been robbed!” when he’s a thief himself.

    • Vishnu Sharma permalink
      June 1, 2010 9:59 pm

      India cant deploy 2 million troops. because india has less than 2 million troops including reserve troops.
      True.

      I am asking for an increase in our armed strength to 5 million troops.

      Having a population of 1 billon, we can afford to have 5 million troops.

      2 million on the Western frontier with Pakistan, 2 million in the Eastern sector
      and 1 million in reserve.

      Regards.

  9. yomker doni permalink
    March 14, 2011 9:07 pm

    i am an arunachali nd i proudly say i am an indian and our land arunachal is an integral part of india.what worries me though is india’s stand.y r our minister so passive in countering china? Y cnt they say it on the face of chinese that arunachal is india’s.are they scared or r they waitin for a repeat of 1962? We arunachalis are not scared of the chinese.we faced nd fought them in 62 nd ready to fyt them anytime.india should beef up security along LAC at the earliest nd develop infrastructure as quickly as possible for easy nd quick deployment of troops along the border.

    Our faces may look alike our tradition may look alike bt that does nt mean we r chinese we r indians.china and japan also shares a common culture they also luk alike bt that doesnt mean that china and japan are same countries.

  10. January 27, 2012 6:41 pm

    Its the Time For India to tell China that Arunachal is a integral part of India.otherwise its will be too late.

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