Tag Archives: Nepal

India Hardens Anti-China Stance High And Low

IT HAS BEEN nearly half a century since there has been a deadly clash along the disputed Himalayan border between India and China, despite regular jostling between the forces of both sides.

Tensions have been elevated in recent months but the Indian army’s announcement that 20 of its soldiers died as a result of a skirmish with PLA forces in the Ladakh region of Kashmir at the start of the week is a shock for two reasons.

First, the two sides had agreed a week earlier to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that runs through the remote Galwan Valley. Second, local reports say the Indian soldiers were bludgeoned to death in a fight involving clubs and rocks.

China has not confirmed Indian claims of casualties on its side, as is its won’t, but said in a statement published on the official Weibo account of the PLA Daily that Indian forces had crossed the border, provoking the skirmish.

India has accused China of sending thousands of troops into the valley and says it occupies 38,000 square kilometres of Indian territory. In May, it accused Chinese forces of setting up a tented camp and moving heavy equipment onto the Indian side of the LAC adding another 60 square kilometres.

However, the proximate cause of the latest tensions appears to be India’s construction of a new road along the LAC, a belated tit-for-tat for an attempt by China in 2017 to extend a border road through a disputed area, which is the world’s longest disputed land border.

Indian and Chinese officials are meeting to defuse the latest incident, but broader talks on settling the border are probably needed to de-escalate the situation. The history of repeated break-downs of such discussions is not encouraging, however.

If this is Beijing using the cover of the Covid-19 pandemic to push a foreign policy agenda more nationalistically, just as it appears to be doing with Hong Kong, in the South and East China Seas and with Taiwan, then the prospects of de-escalation are further reduced.

Meanwhile, there is no physical evidence that China is backing away. Its heavy weaponry remains at the border. For its part, India would lose face if it stopped its road-building in the region, although it could slow it down as an olive branch if it so chose.

Separately but no less worryingly for Delhi, Nepal’s parliament has approved a controversial new map that shows disputed territories along the India-Nepal border as belonging to Nepal, a cartographical land grab that some in India see China’s hand behind.

India’s offer of new credit deals to Sri Lanka and Mauritius looks ever more like an effort to steer both island nations away from pro-China positions as India hardens its anti-China stance.


Filed under China-India

India Fears Encirclement By An Electronic String Of Pearls

Word from our man in Delhi that Indians are getting in a tizzy about their country being ringed by Chinese-built IT infrastructure and communications networks, already being likened to an electronic  string of pearls. India’s intelligence agencies have raised concerns that contracts awarded to Huawei and ZTE to build telecoms networks and data centres in India’s neighbours such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives pose a threat to national security because they could compromise the integrity of India’s telecom and internet networks. Intelligence officials suspect Huawei and ZTE of maintaining close links with the PLA. A similar concern has been expressed in the U.S. and Europe.

Indian intelligence services want Delhi to offer technical expertise and assistance to countries like the Maldives to forestall the advances of China, which many Indians also suspect of being behind the islands’ recent decision to terminate the  contract of an Indian company developing  an airport there. India’s communications ministry also is pushing Indian companies to bid for telecoms and IT infrastructure contracts, and presumably is lobbying for financing and diplomacy to support them.

Our man tells us that last year the ministry quietly told Indian companies not to buy Chinese made telecoms equipment, regardless of how cheap it is, for fear it had spying capabilities built in to it. With China friendly not only to Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives but also Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Pakistan, it doesn’t take much for Indians to feel encircled.

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Filed under China-India