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Finally India takes a step in retaliation against China, more steps needed




For quite some time now, the relationship between India and China has been rocky. There are multiple reasons for the same, such as an increasingly assertive feeling in China, which is compounded by some amount of weak behavior on the Indian side. It is true that China has been increasingly assertive internationally, including the unheard concept of China unwilling to accept many key US requests (such as cooperation on reducing nuclear transfers to Pakistan, support in isolating North Korea (even after North Korea took a major military step by shelling a South Korean island), taking some economic steps to increase the value of China’s currency, and numerous other such steps). As a result, the US, which some years back was dreaming of a G2 kind of model where the US and China would cooperate with each other in influencing the whole world, has stopped dreaming of such a scenario and is looking to build up relationships with nations on China’s periphery (such as Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, and also now India).
China, also over the past several years has been taking a number of steps against Indian interests, and when there is was no direct retaliation, getting emboldened to do more. So, China has been looking to encircle India through a much closer relationship with the Maoists in Nepal (where India seems to be unsure of a good policy, even though it can be a major influence), in Burma (where India has been blowing hot and cold, and only now seems to have settled on being more hard nosed in terms of its interests), in Pakistan (where of course India has very little leverage). China has committed a number of border violations which have not been protested enough by India, and it is only in the past short period of time that the Indian Government has started matching the Chinese buildup in the border regions (where at one stage it seemed that China would have a good network of roads for its military right upto the border while India refused to do the same).

The biggest problem is in terms of the sensitivities regarding some stressful internal situations. A large section of the border is disputed, but the state of Jammu and Kashmir is not in dispute between India and China (although there is the matter about some land having been gifted by Pakistan from POK to China); for some time now, China has been needling India on this matter – such as starting to call the state as disputed, giving Indian citizens from the state Chinese visas on separate stapled pieces of paper, and refusing the visa of an Indian general who was commanding the armed forces in J & K. India would protest, but not use many of the own levers that it has.
China is very sensitive regarding the regions of Tibet, and Taiwan, as well as any discussion regarding the dissidents who are striving for more democracy in China. The recent Nobel peace prize to a dissident of China, Liu Xiaobo, raised the hackles of China, and it wanted countries to boycott the Nobel awarding ceremony. One would have thought that the Indian Government would have bucked down and refused to attend the ceremony, but it seems that the Government has decided to take a more nuanced strategy against China, promising some amount of needling China on its sore points so that it knows that there are cards that India can also play. As a part of this strategy, there should be more indications that India’s nuclear arms can threaten China, that India is starting to get closer commercially to Taiwan, and starts to encourage the Dalai Lama a bit more. All these can cause some amount of rethink in terms of China.




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