The dragon is an implacable beast which doesn’t believe in peaceful coexistence.
China’s shenanigans are unabated. It expressed its displeasure when half-a-dozen Parliamentarians cutting party lines, including Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, attended a dinner hosted by the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile. Soon after that, Beijing termed Arunachal Pradesh as “South Tibet”.
At least six Parliamentarians of the All-Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet had attended the dinner reception on 22 December at a Delhi hotel. The attendees included Maneka Gandhi and K.C. Ramamurthy of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Jairam Ramesh and Manish Tewari of the Congress, and Sujeet Kumar of the BJD. Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, Speaker of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, hosted the reception.
Zhou Yongsheng, Political Counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Delhi, wrote to the MPs concerned, “I have noticed that you have attended an activity held by the so-called ‘All-Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet’ and interacted with some members of so-called ‘Tibetan Parliament in Exile.’ I would like to express our concern on that.”
“I have noticed that you have attended an activity…” is noteworthy; it has the ring of a schoolmaster scolding naughty students, not the temperance expected of a bureaucrat.
Addressing the MPs, Zhou wrote: “You are a senior politician who know (sic) the China-India relations well. It is hoped that you could understand the sensitivity of the issue and refrain from providing support to the ‘Tibetan independence’ forces, and make contributions to China-India bilateral relations.”
Indian leaders should respect China’s “sensitivity,” so also should the Indian government, indeed the governments of the entire world. But, Mr Zhou, what about our sensitivities? About our soldiers who were viciously and unprovokedly attacked in the summer of 2020? About the border issue, which your government wilfully refuses to address? About your support to Pakistan, which exports jihadist terror to India and other countries? About support to the most dangerous terrorists whom your country shields by way of veto?
And what about the sensitivities of the world? After all, the novel coronavirus that your country unleashed has killed millions of people across the globe.
The BJD’s Kumar was scathing in his reaction to Zhou’s letter: “Who is the Political Counsellor at the Chinese Embassy to write to a Member of Parliament of India, the largest democracy? How dare you send letters to Indian MPs? If anything, you can raise your protest through official channels. I think the MEA [Ministry of External Affairs] should take a stand.”
Kumar is absolutely right about the propriety of sending a letter to India Parliamentarians. But the MEA taking a stand? It is here where the shoe pinches. The MEA, still steeped in the non-alignment dogmas, can only come out with stale, ineffectual statements criticizing Beijing but can’t formulate a foreign policy that could hurt the Chinese Communist Party bosses. An example: the MEA’s inveterate suspicion for security alliances has practically made the Quad irrelevant. Recognizing this, the US, the UK, and Australia have come up a new alliance to counter China.
So, typically, in response to China’s claims on “South Tibet,” the MEA strongly condemned the move. It went on to say that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. Further, it said, “assigning invented names to places… does not alter this fact.”
Apart from issuing strongly-worded condemnations, India has not done anything substantial to check China’s belligerence and cantankerousness. Often New Delhi has tried to appease Beijing. In 2018, for instance, the government had advised ministers and officials to avoid “Thank You India” events organised by Tibetan leaders.
The appeasement continues. India has refused to make common cause with the US and other democracies like Canada, the UK, and Australia to boycott Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. US President Joe Biden had made that call at the recent virtual Democracy Summit he hosted a few weeks ago.
From the first Prime Minister to the present incumbent, every Indian leader has shown regard for China’s sensitivities and tried to keep CCP bosses in good humour. Narendra Modi had 18 one-on-one meetings with Xi. We have not given recognition to Taiwan.
The dragon, however, is an implacable beast which doesn’t believe in peaceful coexistence. Under President Xi Jinping, especially, the two violent ideologies of communism and nationalism have blended, and the result is akin to that of gain-of-function research—a deadlier and more virulent political thought without a shred of conscience.
Unsurprisingly, China is unrelenting in its “unrestricted warfare” against India. It encircles our country, aids and arms our enemy Pakistan, refuses to settle the border issue, attacks our soldiers, and builds military infrastructure in our neighbourhood.
The action by Beijing about “South Tibet” and Political Counsellor Zhou’s reaction to our Parliamentarians’ attending the dinner reception should be seen in this milieu.
Ravi Shanker Kapoor is a freelance journalist.