Dr G. Shreekumar Menon
China has silently stretched over the last decade a String of Pearls, a network of military and commercial facilities developed by them in countries falling on the Indian Ocean between the Chinese mainland and Port Sudan.It is a strategic encirclement of India, a carefully crafted designing that has been going on for the past several years.
Xi Jinping has vowed to make China great again. The historical Opium Wars had delivered a critical blow to the Chinese psyche, and, since then, reviving the ancient glory of China has been a secret ambition of all Chinese leaders. Military modernization and building “world class forces” is an integral component in the strategy to make China great again. Land borders and coastlines are being redrawn aggressively to boost the geostrategic status. The Indo-Tibetan border (China occupied Tibet – COT) has been activated to trigger significant tensions. Xi Jinping is opiated with delusions of a grand ‘China Dream’, and redrawing the Indo-Tibetan border is a priority ambition.
The hectic military preparations never anticipated the ‘Modi Storm’ at the other end, that threatens to convert the ‘China Dream’ into a ‘China Nightmare’. This will doubtless be a challenging time, Xi’s greedy vision encountering Modi’s resolute defiance.
Ever since the Chinese forcibly occupied Tibet in 1950 and enslaved the Tibetans, they have aggressively pursued a policy of claiming large chunks of Indian territory under the garb that it is disputed.
After the occupation of Tibet, wars erupted between India and China in 1962, conflict in NathuLa the Tulung La ambush in 1967, 2017 Doklam Plateau standoff, and the latest 2020 Ladakh confrontation.
There is an air of trepidation around the world, two nuclear forces in confrontation mode, a belligerent China intimidating a resurgent India under the dynamic tutelage of Shri. Narendra Modi. The pusillanimity of the Nehruvian era stands replaced by a dynamic urge to repulse, to compel cooperation and readiness to match Chinese bellicosity.
Tibet is an ancient nation with a recorded history dating back to 127 B.C.E. The Tibetan Empire reached its peak during the 7th and 8th centuries, conquering parts of Nepal and India, the Silk Route states, and briefly even T’ang China. The Tibetan kings imported Buddhism from India from the 6th to the 9th century, and became so devoted to its teachings of nonviolence and enlightenment that they neglected their empire.
In 1949 and 1950, the People’s Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China invaded the eastern provinces of Amdo and Kham. In 1951, over forty thousand battle hardened Chinese soldiers marched unopposed into the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. It took the People’s Liberation Army only two weeks to surround and capture Tibet’s army, including the country’s governor-general and his staff. With the army destroyed and no response to Tibet’s appeals to the United States, India and Britain for aid, the newly enthroned fifteen-year-old Dalai Lama sent a delegation to Beijing to negotiate. On May 23, 1951, the delegation had no other option but to sign the Seventeen-Point Agreement which accepted Chinese control over Tibet in exchange for promises to leave the Dalai Lama in control of the country’s internal affairs and Tibet’s religion and culture untouched—promises the Chinese broke almost immediately. Since the invasion, an estimated 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed as a result of the Chinese occupation. By 1969, approximately 6,250 monasteries, the cultural centres of Tibetan life, had been destroyed. Prisons and labour camps are among the most common methods of persecution. Numerous Tibetans have perished from starvation and hard labour while in captivity. The most serious threat facing Tibetans is the systematic transfer of Chinese people into Tibet. More than 8 million Chinese have now settled in Tibet, a population transfer that threatens to overwhelm the remaining 6 million Tibetans and their distinct ancient Buddhist culture. Most of Tibet’s monasteries were destroyed in the 1960s and 1970s during China’s Cultural Revolution. Thousands of Tibetans are believed to have been killed during periods of repression and martial law. The Dalai Lama says 1.2 million people were killed under Chinese rule.
In March 1959, spiritual leader Dalai Lama escaped from his homeland in Tibet amid a Chinese crackdown and was granted refuge in India. India granted the Tibet leader asylum on April 3, 1959 and permission to establish a government-in-exile in the northern hill station of Dharamsala, already a sanctuary for thousands of Tibetan exiles fleeing Chinese repression.
Not satisfied with gobbling up Tibet, the Chinese want to roll down the Himalayas into India. If India is not alert it will face a similar situation as Tibet. Vast chunks of Indian land are being claimed by the Chinese from time to time to suit their expansionist designs. Buddhist pacifism and Hindu tolerance cannot subdue Chinese bellicosity. The time has come to resurrect Warrior-Monks or Dom Doms of Tibet.
The Indo-Tibetan border is now claimed to be the Indo-Chinese border, new border disputes are being raked up and China now occupies 38,000 sq km of Indian territory in Aksai Chin. Fresh claims have been made on Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. These led to the recent clashes between the PLA and the Indian Army in Galwan area on 15 June 2020.
Dr. G. Shreekumar Menon, IRS, (Rtd) PhD (Narcotics), is former Director General, NationalAcademy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics, & Multi-Disciplinary School OfEconomic Intelligence India, Fellow, James Martin Center For Non Proliferation Studies,USA. Fellow, Centre for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia, USA , Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, U.S.A.,AOTS Scholar, Japan