OPINION: Time has come to say Hindi Chini Bye-Bye

The Author. More than five-decade old slogan “Hindi Chini, Bhai Bhai” (Indians and Chinese are brothers) by Jawaharlal Nehru, made this historic and most crucial brotherhood statement. Much water has since then flowed down the rivers Ganga...

OPINION: Time has come to say Hindi Chini Bye-Bye

The Author.

More than five-decade old slogan “Hindi Chini, Bhai Bhai” (Indians and Chinese are brothers) by Jawaharlal Nehru, made this historic and most crucial brotherhood statement. Much water has since then flowed down the rivers Ganga and the Yangtze - the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world - the attainment of brotherhood is yet a distant cry.

The disputed border region between India and China attracts troops from both countries, but two weeks ago the Chinese sent an unusual number of military patrols into the mountains of Ladakh, a remote high-altitude desert at the Northern tip of India.

Two Chinese patrols came on foot, two more arrived in military vehicles and a Chinese helicopter flew overhead. With all the activity, the Indian authorities failed to notice until the next morning that about 30 Chinese soldiers had pitched three tents in an area both countries claim.

Indian military officials protested. The Chinese stayed put. India protested again. The Chinese, who had with them a few high-altitude guard dogs, responded by erecting two more tents and raising a sign saying, in English, “You are in Chinese side.”

Besides different statements from the politicians from the India side, our Prime Minister, who is heading towards the completion of his second term, don’t want to enter into any controversy by giving any statement which may spark the situation to effect the coming elections.  He has uttered very balanced words – “It is a localised problem. We do believe it can be solved. We have a plan. We do not want to accentuate the situation.”

Though Indian and Chinese politicians have not described the reasons for the dispute, Indian news reports have stated that Chinese officials have demanded that Indian authorities demolish some newly constructed bunkers and reduce patrols in the area.

However, on the other hand, the Chinese spokeswoman, Hua Chunying has said, “I would also like to point out that China and India are neighbors and their borders haven’t been demarcated. As such, it is difficult to avoid this or that kind of problem.”  

China has become increasingly assertive in its territorial claims across Asia. In disputes with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, among others, China’s claims revolve around islands or sea lanes that are potentially rich in oil and gas deposits. What puzzles India is as to why China is not settling the issues with India.

Trade between China and India is growing rapidly. Indian and Chinese officials have emphasised that relations remain friendly, and Indian officials say that Khurshid still intends to go to Beijing as planned. But there are growing calls in India for both trips to be cancelled.

China and India are separated by the formidable geographical obstacles of the Himalayan mountain chain. China and India today share a border along the Himalayas and Nepal and Bhutan, two states lying along the Himalaya range, and acting as buffer states. The dispute is playing out hundreds of miles from what has long been seen as the most contested area between the countries — a stretch of land that separates Tibet, occupied for decades by China, and the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Chinese soldiers crossed that part of the border during the 1962 war and took over a section of Arunachal Pradesh, including the culturally Tibetan area known as Tawang, before decamping and returning to China. In 2009, China became more vocal in its claims to parts of Arunachal Pradesh.

The latest spat between India and China is bound to resolve itself this year, one way or another. In six months, snow and bitterly cold weather will make the Chinese encampment very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain.

Despite violations at the borders, the leaders of both sides are still hopeful that the two countries were not rivals or competitors but friendly neighbours who were out to further improve their relations through cooperation.

India’s boundary disputes with neigouburs is a matter of great concern for the entire country and the time has come for the think-tank of both the countries to sit across the table, to say take some concrete steps to decide the boundary dispute amicably but once for all by saying – “Hindi Chini Bye Bye”.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of City Air News.) 

 

Date: 
Sunday, May 5, 2013