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Why is China 'afraid' of India?

  • Dailybhaskar.com
  • Jul 22, 2013, 10:05 AM IST
Why is China 'afraid' of India?
New Delhi: Indian authorities’ lackadaisical approach in taking up frequent incursion incidents by Chinese troops with counterparts in Beijing has often been attributed to the south Asian giant being militarily and economically much weaker than the ‘Dragon’. 
None in the Indian top leadership have been vocal in defending India’s territorial integrity, often breached by People Liberation Army’s(PLA) troops on numerous instances, with Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) and Chumar incidents being the latest cases.
So, is India afraid that forcefully taking up the matter with Beijing could escalate a minor border difference into full-scale war, like the one that took place in 1962?
Many would say so, but introspection of many of Chinese incursions tell a different story altogether. That fear spawns aggression is amply demonstrated by fact that Chinese don’t want any developmental activity to take place on Indian side of LAC,  in contrast to India’s stand which allowed border infrastructure on Chinese side to be upgraded without an iota of protest. Most of  development activity on Chinese side, notably, happened in wake of 1999 Kargil conflict.
That India didn't protest, neither against China’s activities on its side nor against PLA's troops vandalising its border posts now, because it is intimidated by Chinese might may somewhat be right, but doesn’t reflect the whole truth either.
Studying Karakoram Highway, an epitome of Pakistan-China cooperation on north of undivided Jammu and Kashmir, throws light on why China feels threatened by India, and how its aggressive posture vis-à-vis India in Ladakh is symptom of insecurity rather than strength.
Wondrous infrastructure building activity, aimed at attaining strategic advantage, has been on for almost a decade now on the Chinese side of undemarcated Line of Actual Control near Ladakh border in Jammu and Kashmir.
The  Karakarom Highway, the highest paved road in the world which is steadily being transformed into an all-weather, four-lane asphalt highway along with many of arterial highways linking it to southern regions of China, is among several such projects. The Dragon’s dedication and unflinching support to complete the ambitious project at any cost, however, betrays suspicion.
Though still dusty tracts of land at many spots, the 1,600-km mountainous highway, when completed by end of 2014, will make it possible for Chinese goods from Xinjiang province to reach Islamabad in Pakistan in less than a day. Reports by foreign journalists, who are granted access to the region(unlike Indian media), have highlighted that large chunk of funds, civil engineers, workers and security personnel engaged in the facelift are from China. It is being said that over $400 MILLION have already been sanctioned by state-run Chinese banks to complete works on Pakistani side, a major area of which lies in PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir).
During just concluded visit of recently sworn Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to China last week, a total of eight pacts were signed, including one for the construction of an ‘economic corridor’, a 2,000-kilometer (1,200-mile)transport project parallel to Karakoram Highway connecting the city of Kashgar northwestern China to the Pakistani port of Gwadar, likely by road in the beginning and possibly by rail later. 
Secrecy surrounding Karakoram Highway, and how India's attempt to know more about the project invited incursions in Ladakh....

Find out more by clicking on the following slides

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    Why is China 'afraid' of India?
    Secrecy surrounding Karakoram Highway, and how India's attempt to know more about the project invited incursions in Ladakh....
    Der Spiegel, a German publication, throws light on the close Sino-Pakistan cooperation and secrecy surrounding the project, thus signifying importance Chinese attribute to the Karakoram Highway project.
    “Along the way there are more than a hundred bridges. Policemen or military personnel also stand watch at these points along the way to ensure that no one takes pictures -- the bridges are considered strategically important targets and, as a result, they rarely show up on maps,” the article, written by a Pakistani national, pointed out.
    It is natural that India, as a neighbor and a common rival of both China and Pakistan, wants to be in know of what the ‘all-weather allies’ are up to. Despite assurances from successive Chinese presidents that Sino-Pakistan cooperation don’t pose any threat to India, a fact not lost on New Delhi is the historical Silk Route could very well be used as an effective conduit for logistic and arms transfer at time of crisis. 
    That most of the construction on border and Sino-Pakistan cooperation began after Indian Army routed invading force of mujahideens and Pakistani Army in 1999 Kargil conflict  apparently makes the Centre even more suspicious. 
    Chumar, a frontier post in southern Ladakh, is said to have boasted of an ‘Indian Observation tower’ replete with cameras and surveillance equipment until Chinese troops reportedly vandalized it on June 17 this year. The People’s Liberation Army soldiers, as reported in Times of India, took away the cameras and some equipment too, returning them on July 3, after vociferous protests by Indian officials.
    As the map points out, Chumar is one of those several points where India has often been accused of using its location to snoop on the Chinese territory in general and Karakoram Highway in particular. Thus, its favourable location means that India could keep an eye on ‘construction and other menacing activities’ which take place on the Karakoram Highway. 
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    Why is China 'afraid' of India?
    India's advantages....
    Unsurprisingly, Chinese were frantically trying to sabotage the post for quite some time. The first attempt came in April when they a platoon of PLA troops entered Daulat Beg Oldi(DBO) Sector in northern Ladakh and allegedly captured Indian posts there. That crisis ended after a tense 21-day standoff between the armies. Though Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had then claimed that no concessions had been made to force Chinese to withdraw, it later emerged that a barter of sorts where India agreed to demolish the observation towers in Chumar in southern Ladakh in return for making PLA troops to withdraw from DBO was what had clinched the deal.
     After dismantling their posts, it seems that Indian Army re-established its presence in Chumar after tensions cooled. On June 17, PLA troops brazenly entered Chumar itself and did what they though necessary to safeguard their interests.
    That the incursion came at a time when at least 10,000 of Indian Army’s active soldiers were busy in carrying out relief operations in flood-hit Uttarakhand shows that it was an ‘opportunistic and well-timed’ raid.
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    Why is China 'afraid' of India?
    US-India naval cooperation.. A headache for the Chinese..
    Besides giving increased opportunities for export of Chinese manufactured goods and services to Pakistani markets, the success of completion of Karakoram Highway is also important to Beijing as China is said to be keen on finding alternate routesfor oil imports and circumventing the Strait of Malacca near Singapore. 
    Increased tensions with south-east Asian and eastern neighbours over uninhabited islands in surrounding seas and stepping up of US and its allies including India’s naval presence in the region can explain Beijing’s concerns. 
    With such a geo-political backdrop where Indian Ocean is becoming a hub of US-India cooperation, it is natural for Beijing to look for alternative pathways to reach the sea.
    And Karakoram Highway provides just that. The importance that China, thus, attributes to the route is somewhat explained when one takes into account the emerging US-India alliance, particularly naval cooperation in the Indian Ocean.
    Secondarily as it appears now, the completed Karakoram highway will also provide an access to Afghanistan in wake of US withdrawing its troops in 2014. Even here, China will be in direct confrontation with India, whose ‘bigger role’ in the region is advocated by US and other allies.
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    Why is China 'afraid' of India?
    Why can India and China can't rise together...
    Though many would brand China militarily and economically more powerful than India and rightly so, a matter of fact is that the south Asian giant still holds some game-changing cards which could tilt the balance of power in its favour.
    That most of Chinese troops' recent intrusions into Indian territory to not let any developmental activity take place betrays Beijing’s insecurity vis-à-vis India burgeoning military and technological capabilities.
    However, the INDIAN leadership of late has not quite gone in resonance with growing defense capabilities and moreover, aspirations of young Indians.
    Be it  Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid who belittled the Chinese aggression as ‘an acne on beautiful face of Sino-Indian relationship’, or PM Manmohan Singh who mocked  defense experts by remarking that DBO sector incursion as localized incident, none among India’s leaders have forcefully taken up frequent Chinese breaches of India’s sovereignty.
    Claiming that there is ‘enough space for both India and China’, two aspiring superpowers and neighbours on top of that, when they have a chequered history doesn’t appear historically apt.

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