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View: India must respond to Chinese provocation

Opponents in the media, academic and civil society circles have vociferously questioned the government’s decision and it has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

ET CONTRIBUTORS|
Aug 19, 2019, 07.42 AM IST
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China has incarcerated a million Uighurs in “re-education” camps and keeps the Tibetans suppressed under military jackboots, against which the non-violent Tibetans have no choice but to self-immolate.
By Kanwal Sibal

China took the lead to internationalise the Kashmir issue in league with Pakistan by seeking the intervention of the UN Security Council on India’s move to revise its internal constitutional status.

Unlike China’s opaque political functioning and decision-making processes, national media control, suppression of dissent and draconian internal security laws, the change in J&K’s constitutional status was done through an open political process — a publicly aired parliamentary debate and voting.

Opponents in the media, academic and civil society circles have vociferously questioned the government’s decision and it has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

China approached the Security Council with soiled hands. It violated the status quo in J&K and the UN resolutions that it invoked by annexing a part of the state in 1963, occupying Aksai Chin after the UN resolutions and constructing the Karakoram highway through the territory which it calls “disputed”, and more blatantly still through the CPEC project that makes its presence permanent in PoK.

Pakistan changed the status quo in PoJ&K by integrating Gilgit-Baltistan with Pakistan in 2009, with a view to giving itself and China a freer hand to develop Chinese link through PoJ&K to Gwadar. Unlike India, Pakistan has changed the demography of PoJ&K by allowing non-Kashmiris to settle there, besides allowing the presence of China’s military and civilian personnel close to India’s border.

China has also changed the demography of Tibet and Sinkiang by settling Hans in large numbers, imposing the Chinese language and grossly interfering in their Buddhist and Islamic practices.

China’s hypocrisy is unabashed when its PR to the UN speaks of human rights violations of Kashmiris.

China has incarcerated a million Uighurs in “re-education” camps and keeps the Tibetans suppressed under military jackboots, against which the non-violent Tibetans have no choice but to self-immolate.

If India keeps a large number of troops in J&K it is because both Pakistan and China have territorial claims on the state, and also because of the terrorist onslaught on J&K by Pakistan and China’s protection of its “all-weather friend” against mounting international pressure to curb its jihadi links. Why has China militarised Tibet? India has accepted Chinese sovereignty over Tibet and has no territorial claims on it, and neither the Tibetans nor the Indians are engaged in terrorist activities against the Chinese occupying forces.

China claims the changes in J&K constitutional status, especially in Ladakh, affect its sovereignty. If China claims J&K’s status is undecided and it is an internationally recognised dispute, it applies equally to Aksai Chin as part of Ladakh. How can China protest as its own claim over Aksai Chin is “unilateral”?

India must respond to China’s grave provocation in tabling the J&K issue at the UNSC after half a century despite external affairs minister S Jaishankar clarifying India’s position cogently and persuasively in Beijing. China’s UN posturing is encouraging Pakistan, terrorist organisations in Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists to promote violence so as to keep international focus on the situation there.

India has multiple choices — reiterating India’s claim over Aksai Chin as an unsettled territorial issue on the agenda of the special representatives, eliminating Huawei from 5G trials, placing curbs on China’s economic inroads into India in sensitive sectors, making a statement on developments in Hong Kong because of our concerns on the security of our community there, inviting a Taiwan minister to India officially and giving the Dalai Lama a major platform to speak in Delhi, with an Indian minister in the audience.

India must respond to the Chinese provocation, otherwise we will politically weaken our position before the next Modi-Xi summit in the success of which both sides should have equal interest. China has given itself all the space it needs to ignore and hurt our core interest, but we are yet to act.

(The writer is a former foreign secretary)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)
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