(Excerpts from an interview with Shri Ram Madhav)
Q : What, according to you, are the issues should India raise with China during the visit of Chinese premiere to India?
See, there is an English saying that you can not choose your parents. You can apply this to countries also. You can not choose your neighbors. But, unfortunately in India’s case, we voluntarily picked up two neighbors. One is Pakistan, which was our own creation. It was carved out of India in 1947. You know certain historical, I would say, blunders committed by the then leadership of the country. The other country, China, never in the long history was a neighbor to India. We had a buffer state between these two big countries, but again, due to our own mistakes, our own lack of foresight or vision whatever you say, we allowed China to occupy Tibet through a continuous aggression for ten years and by 1960, China stood on our borders and that also became our neighbor. And from then till date, India and China and the other country which was created by us as our neighbor, India and Pakistan have been facing not so friendly neighborly relations. Now, I would not say that India has hostile neighbors all around, but major hostility is with these two countries.
At a time when the Premiere of China visiting India, there are several important issues that we would want Government of India to raise before him, talk out with him and convey our concerns and our views on several of these issues in a very forthright manner to the Premiere of China. Most important is the tensions along the line of actual control. This line of actual control is not really the border between these two countries. Line of actual control is a line which we were forced to accept after Chinese aggression on India in 1962. It is 50 years since that aggression happened. We lost huge territory to China in 1962. China after occupying that territory, stood at a place from where it continues to nibble away our borders. Its armies commit huge encroachments. In the last three years there were thousands of reported incursions by Chinese army into Indian Territory. This is a deliberate provocation continuously perpetuated by the Chinese army. This has to stop. India has always stood for peaceful neighborly relations. But, these continuous violations of line of actual control create unnecessary tensions and they increase the hostile atmosphere between the two countries. So India has to tell the premiere of China that China should desist from these incursions.
Secondly, for India and China to move forward as friendly neighbors, China needs to give up this aggressive behavior towards India. Many times we find Chinese media, Chinese think tank and intellectuals raising issues that concern the integrity of India. Many times they raise issues that concern the sovereignty of India. For example, questions are raised about whether states such as Arunachal Pradesh belong to India or not. These are deliberate provocations. Arunachal Pradesh has been, is and will continue to be an integral part of India. For China to raise it time and again, if not officially, through its other agencies is a deliberate provocation. It is unacceptable to India. India could have raised so many issues. India could have raised questions about provinces such as XinJiang. There are many issues on which there are disputes in China whereas Arunachal question is settled long before that it is an integral part of India.
Similarly, there were earlier some Chinese websites talking about India being dismembered into 15 to 16 different nations. This is the kind of discourse that happens in Chinese intellectual circles. Government of India should take very strong measures. it should register its strong protest to China and tell china that for better future relations of these two countries, there needs to be a more friendly, more peaceful behavior from Chinese side. India has always demonstrated a very peaceful and a very friendly attitude towards China.
A few years ago, there was a breakdown of one dam system in China which resulted in flash floods causing huge damage to kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh. This happened because of an incident of breakdown in river dam in China. India wanted its engineers to go and study the situation so that the future protective measures could be taken by us in our country. China refused to allow our engineers and we remained silent. Now, on Brahmaputra, China is building innumerable number of dams and trying to divert rivers, knowing well that on Brahmaputra waters, as a downstream country, India too has specific rights over the waters of Brahmaputra. Even then, India has only urged China not to divert the waters of Brahmaputra. Disrespecting India’s concerns and demands, China is going ahead building dams on Brahmaputra. These kinds of gestures by China are not helpful in creating friendly neighbor relations.
So India should place these concerns before China. India and China are two big countries in this region and together they should move forward. Together they should try and ensure peace in the world. Instead, if China continues its aggressive maneuvers towards India, then India too, being equally big country, should register its views forcefully and forthrightly.
Q: We often hear a term "Trust Deficit" about the relations between India and China. What are your views on this?
Trust deficit is a very catchy phrase to underplay the Chinese aggressive maneuvers and try to show that as though both the countries have a problem. Problem is created by China. It is China’s attitude and its actions that cause serious problems to India. What has India done to cause any Trust deficit in China? So this trust deficit is a very catchy phrase that is used by intellectuals to justify certain actions of China which are certainly provocative for India. So what is needed is for China to change its attitude. I would say there is a cultural difference. Manifestation of Indian culture is such that you don’t behave in any provocative or aggressive manner with anybody whereas China has different cultural trait in it because of which it has strained relations not only with India but also with almost all of its neighbors. It has strained relations with Mangolia, Russia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines. You name a country, it has some complaint against China. This could have something to do with its cultural approach. So, probably that could be a justifiable reason, but this whole argument of trust deficit is like equating both the countries, the aggressor and the victim.
Q: You were mentioning that China claims Arunachal Pradesh. On what basis, China is claiming any rights on Arunachal Pradesh? Are there any cultural/historical rights that let China claim Arunachal Pradesh?
China does not have any cultural or historical rights to claim even territories of Tibet, Xinjiang, Inner Mangolia, Manchuria and all other territories. You must understand that right from the Han-kingdom days, China has always demonstrated a very expansionist and aggressive political approach. It has annexed territories, it continues to demonstrate such expansionist attitude even to this day. Not just Arunachal Pradesh, on and off, it raises the issue of Sikkim. It continuously raised the issue for several years ofthe entire Ladakh region being a part of their country. So, this is the Chinese attitude of expansionism. They say that Arunachal Pradesh is actually south Tibet. Why is it South Tibet? There is no historical reason to claim that it is south Tibet. In one of their magazines, they said that graves of ancestors of some Tibetans are located in Arunachal Pradesh. So, those Tibetans want the territory on which the graves exist to be a part of Tibet. Can this be an argument? Tomorrow, applying the same argument every country can claim the territories of another country. These are the very flimsy grounds on which China rakes up these issues but the real issue is that China has the tendency of expansionism. And India has paid enough price. Not just India but countries like Tibet have paid the price of their independence to the China’s expansionism. So we have to be very careful about the China’s claims over Arunachal Pradesh.
Q: It has been over 50 years since the war with China. Have we learnt any lessons from that and demonstrated applying those lessons?
Unfortunately the last 50 years of our relations with China, the way we conducted those relations, give us an impression that we have not learnt any lessons from the 1962 war. It is true that it has been 50 years since then, but there is nothing to celebrate because it was a war in which we were humiliated in many ways. Firstly, our territory was occupied, we faced a very bitter defeat, more than 5000 soldiers were killed, we lost precious lives of our soldiers and most importantly we were cheated. We believed in the words of China when we gave this slogan together with Chou-en-Lie in 1954 that “Hindi – Chini Bhai Bhai” (Indians – Chinese were brothers ). We believed in that slogan, but finally what we faced was, I would use the harsh word, that we were cheated. We were misled. But there were reasons. We failed to understand China. I would like to refer one classic example –in 1954 when we signed ‘Panchsheel’ with china, Nehru told the Indian parliament that ‘Panchasheel’ is about peaceful coexistence between the neighbors, India and China have signed this agreement of peaceful coexistence. Just 8 years down the line we had a major war. Few months before the war, Mao said a classic thing which demonstrates the mindset of China. When Chou-en-lie reminded him of Panchasheel and this whole business of peaceful co-existence, Mao tells Chou-en-lie to go and tell Nehru that India and China should learn, not peaceful co-existence, but armed coexistence. Of course it was too late by then, we could not be really armed to know the coexistence with armed and armies. But 5 decades down the lane have we learnt the lesson that with China we have to behave with strength. Unfortunately, successively we conceded direct/indirect defeats to China – 1987, China occupied our territory. We begged, pleaded and it took 6 full years to make Chinese go back but on the condition that India also will go back. They came inside our territory, we tried to stop them and after 6 years the agreement was they will go back but we also will go back . That means we lose our territory. We claimed that it was peace and tranquility agreement. This was the great agreement we entered with China.
See what happened just one week or 10 days before. China occupies Indian Territory, penetrates deep inside our territory. Firstly the government tries to underplay saying it was only 10 km inside India. Then after some time they say “no, it was not 10km, it was 19 km”. But the final truth was that they came 27 km inside our territory and what was the response of our government? Our foreign minister was on record saying that there was perceptional difference with regard to the border demarcation. Now, if it is perceptional difference, have we ever tried to go to that side? Can there be a perceptional difference of 27 km? If it is perceptional difference, then it will be 2km or 1km.They came 27 km inside our territory and we say “No, No it is just perceptional difference”. We heard our foreign minister saying in Beijing that both India and China have agreed to go back .Where is the question of India going back?. We have never encroached the territory of china. That means again you have conceded territory to China.
So it only shows that we have not learnt the lesson that Mao wanted us to learn –Mao said you should learn how to live with china and you should know how to have an armed coexistence policy. Instead, we are still believing in that peaceful coexistence policy. Our foreign minister declared –“ I will go to Beijing and talk it out with China” as though through talks he can solve it.. Indian leadership should therefore understand that China’s attitude towards India has not changed since 1950. Unfortunately we have also not learnt any lessons from 1950 . While china is continuing with its aggressionist policy of nibbling away our territories and we are continuing with our policy of Bhoodan, allowing our neighbors to occupy our territories at their own will.
Q: We also have an annoying problem with Pakistan and with the nexus between China and Pakistan. What is your view on China giving a lot of infrastructural and arm support to Pak?
At one point in time Pakistan was an independent country. We had problems with it which we had tried to solve. We had 2 wars with Pakistan. But today Pakistan is simply a proxy of China. Today Pakistan and China have developed very intimate relationship. Pakistan has passed on nearly 5000 sq. km. of the occupied Indian Territory to China in Karakoram area. That territory is used by China to connect to Pakistan’s main land through which today it has access to Karachi and ports in Sindh. It has reached up to Gwadar port. Pakistan and China are very close friends. Today Pakistani army has a major presence in Karakoram area. Thus, not just on our Eastern front, but also on the northern front today china is sitting on top of our Jammu and Kashmir. So China and Pakistan have emerged as a major nexus against India. It is everybody’s view that the nuclear capability of Pakistan is mainly because of the support extended by China. China has done the same thing with several other countries such as North Korea, which is today regarded as a proxy of China. Pakistan is also today acting as a proxy of china only. So this is an enhanced threat to India. Pakistan by itself is a major nuisance for India. It thrives only and only on hatred for India. The very survival of Pakistan depends on hate for India. Pakistan continues to promote various anti-Indian activities – terrorism, drugs, fake currency infusion into India and radical-Islamism being exported into India through madarasas etc. All these actively been done by Pakistan from several decades. Added to that, it has today joined with another arch anti-Indian country like China. Together they have formed into an axis to contain, control and trouble India.
Q: How should Bharat handle the threat from China? There are very few knowledgeable citizens who would boycott Chinese products but on the major scale how would we handle this?
China’s challenge to India is actually two-fold. China applies multiple strategies. It had a very Great War strategist, by name Sun-Tzu, whose life period is described as some 2000 years ago. He authored a book called “Art of War”. One of the principles he suggests in it is that you should not have a single strategy against your enemy but you should have multiple strategies and multiple targets. China applies that in letter and spirit. Today China on one hand uses its military might to bother India to put pressure on India, but at the same time China also uses its engagement with various sections of our society, in a way, to suck India into its own vortex. I would say China uses three pronged strategy. One is engagement. It engages different sections of our society or our country. It engages at trade and commerce level in a very big way. Today India and China’s trade engagement is boasted by the government to be around $70 billion. What the government does not tell is that it is hugely uneven trade relationship. Of the $70 billion, $60 billion is the India’s imports from China, whereas our exports are only $10 billion, the net deficit being a huge $50 billion. This trade deficit can tomorrow become a major handle for China to exploit India. China does it with many countries. It used one airbus order to a company in France to control the entire European Union. China knows how to use trade to achieve its political objectives. India, not realizing this, is allowing China a free run in our country through its trade. Here comes the role of people. This trade has become possible because we have got used to consuming huge quantities of Chinese goods in our country. Right from the electrical appliances to our day to day items and even our religious items like Ganesh idols are brought from China. The furniture we use comes from China. Even the fabric is coming from China. It is resulting in a huge loss to our own industry. On one hand, thousands of our factories are being shut down and many companies turning bankrupt while on the other hand we are increasingly depending on China. Here the people have their role. If necessary they must tighten their belts. They should be ready to spend an extra penny to purchase an item produced by an Indian company. They should try and avoid using Chinese products. The second thing that China is doing as a part of its engagement policy is sending its technology. Today, in the power sector, telecommunication sector, huge amount of Chinese technology is entering India. Its hardware, software is entering our country. Technology is entering in many ways into India. Companies like Huwei have a huge presence in our telecommunication industry. Many of the telecommunication stations have equipment that belongs to China. Today, most of the private power generating units in India are manufactured by Chinese companies. China is trying to slowly suck India into its system through its technology. This is where this engagement can become a major trouble spot for India in future. America has disallowed the Huwei Company to enter it. They take many measures to prevent the Chinese companies from exploiting their markets whereas, we are like a choultry where anybody can come and do anything they want. People need to be more alert and careful about such engagement which is not of our interest. In a short run we may feel the products to be cheap, but everybody knows that they lack quality and on the other hand our own industry is collapsing and we are sucked into its economy.
The second is encirclement. There the major role is of the government. Today, China is encircling India. As I said, China has its proxy in Pakistan. Bangladesh is their good friend. They have their major presence down below Myanmar in a place called Coco islands, which is just about 50 nautical miles from our last island of Andaman and Nicobar chain, very close to India. China, which used to have a listening post there, has now developed a full-fledged military base, just on our borders. They have a major presence in Sri Lanka. They caused huge embarrassment and humiliation to us in Maldives. They have their presence in Sindh at Gwadar port. They have practically encircled India from all the sides. This is the second type of danger that we face from China. Here, it is not just the people, it has to be the government, it has to be pro-active, and it has to engage with the neighbors. In War, there are number of techniques all of which can not be discussed on camera, but the Governments have to have strategies to tackle these kinds of threats.
The third thing that China does is that it always sides with your enemies, encourages your enemy. We should very be careful. Wherever there is an Indian interest involved, China jumps in and mobilizes the anti-Indian forces to ensure that India’s interests are blocked. Whether it is Asian development bank funding, or United Nations related matters, you find China to be siding always with our enemies. Have we ever found China on our side in the last five decades? We were responsible for China getting a seat in Security Council. It was Nehru, who continuously campaigned for a seat for China in Security Council. After joining Security Council, right from the Kashmir issue to the Arunachal issue and on many other issues, China is always found to be on our opposite side. This is China. There the role of government becomes very important. But, having said this, I must tell you that I am not saying that India must have a confrontation with China. We are not war mongers. When Paramapujyaniya Guruji, the second chief of RSS, cautioned the government of India in early 1950s about the impending danger of China occupying Tibet, he said that once China completely occupies Tibet, then China stands on our borders and China known to be an expansionist natured country and will be a threat to India. Those days, he was blamed to be a war monger. History showed that what he said turned out to be true. In 1962, China attacked India and encroached upon our territory. Even today when we ( the RSS ) alert the government about the maneuvers and intentions of China, some people may accuse us of provoking tensions. But the fact is that we want peaceful neighborly relations, but we cannot have a clap with one hand. China continuing with its aggressive maneuvers and India alone talking about peace does not help. So India has to follow Mao’s advice. It has to learn to live with an armed China in an armed existence manner and has to show some strength. India should be very clear that India’s legitimate rights must be respected by China. It cannot support India’s enemies on international forum. It cannot put military pressure on India over the line of actual control (LAC) which is not even a border. India should show courage over these matters and have more friends in the region. India should befriend Taiwan, which unfortunately even to this day does not enjoy a status of country. India does not recognize Taiwan. India should have more friendly relations with many countries such as South Korea, Vietnam, Phillipenes, Japan, Mangolia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Myanmar especially. Most importantly, today, the Indian Ocean region is emerging as a future battlefield. India should encourage the countries in this region such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanka to ensure that the Indian Ocean region remains peaceful. India should take the lead. We all should come together to ensure that this region does not become a future battlefield between big powers.These are some of the things on which India has to act proactively. When Mr. Narasimharao was the prime minister of India, India declared ‘look east’ policy in 1993. The idea was to reach out to the nations of south-east Asia and bring them closer to India. Unfortunately, it remained a slogan for almost a decade. But when Mr. Vajpayee became the prime minister he converted this ‘look-east’ policy into ‘act-east’ policy. He proactively took steps to bring these countries closer, he travelled to those countries. Today India has to take it forward and create much more bonhomie between India and other ASEAN countries. All this is needed to ensure peace in this region. India has to have the big picture in mind and act as a big country, as a country with 5000 year old civilization, as a responsible country that has a message to give to the whole world. Instead the present government behaves as a very weak, meek and a submissive country does.