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Beware of Chinese deception game

Beware of Chinese deception game

Author: Kingshuk Nag
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 2, 2009
URL: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/masala-noodles/entry/beware-of-chinese-deception-game

It is a pure coincidence, but there is a powerful symbolism in it. Even as China celebrates the 60th anniversary of communism with fireworks and grand display of military prowess, Indian citizens from Jammu & Kashmir are being denied visa stampings on their passports by the Chinese. The signalling is unmistakeable: the red men of China are in effect saying (though not using these exact words): We do not recognise Jammu & Kashmir to be part of India, it is probably a disputed part, so we won't give visas to these guys on their Indian passports. So what if it looks downward indecent and vulgar that we behave in such a fashion?

Of course, similar incidents have happened with people of Arunachal Pradesh and in one case - if I remember correctly - the Chinese refused to give visa to a local resident. The Chinese have always disputed India's border on the northeast at erstwhile North East Frontier Area (NEFA) which is one of the reasons for the 1962 war but to deny visa to a local and implying that he is actually a Chinese is bizarre.

Predictably, a red-faced South Block, the headquarters of the Indian foreign ministry, has lodged a protest against China's refusal to put visa stamps on the passports of J&K residents. After all, wasn't it till last week that the bosses at South Block were crying hoarse that the Indian press was overreacting to various Chinese moves and showing them in bad light? But it is only the Indian mandarins who are unable to decipher the devious Chinese games. For the rest of us what the Chinese are doing is crystal clear.

Recall how an article appeared on a quasi-official Chinese website calling for balkanisation of India and using an array of weapons like the "decadent" Hindu religion, the Bangaldeshis, the Tamils and what have you to implode India from within. What made the article remarkable was that it appeared on a quasi-official site in a country where there is no freedom of press. If some Indian had written stuff like that on an Indian site, the article should not have been taken seriously, because it would have denoted no official sanction. But not in the case of China. In fact it is increasingly clear that the Chinese who are obsessed with control of Tibet and the Tibetan plateau - leading down the river Tasang Po (Brahmaputra in India) - are ready to slug it out with India. The Chinese are in illegal occupation of Tibet and now want to flex their muscles in Jammu & Kashmir, where they, by the way, sit on 10%t of the state's landmass that is not theirs.

Readers may also recollect that around the time the article about balkanisation of India appeared, outgoing Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta in remarkable candour had also pointed out to the fact of the Chinese navy encircling India on the Indian Ocean. The good admiral must have seen this Chinese attempt to dominate the Indian waters, but what with the Indian official stand being to keep mum, must have felt stifled. Only in his last days could he overcome this shyness to hold forth with candour.

What is most unnerving is that this Chinese misadventure comes at a time when India-China economic relations are on the surge. Indian companies are regularly setting up shop in the mainland and today there is a steady stream of tourist traffic from India to China. Interpid travellers of Indian origin can often be seen looking for bargains in the bazaars of Shanghai. Trade and industry bodies frequently take delegations to China. In other words, the Chinese are going full blast even as there is greater India-China engagment. Such an engagement creates a sort of "vested" interest in India of guys who would tend to "understand" the Chinese and sympathise with their viewpoint. In the last three decades this role was played by Indian marxist intellectuals who had proliferated by the dozens in Indian universities. (Remember the CPM had described the 1962 war as a border dispute leading to border war?) But with the marxists on the retreat, the Chinese would obviously want to "use" these new Indian interests as props to further their cause.

In recent years a lot of us have been taken in by Chinese propaganda about how the two major Asian powers should collaborate to play a greater role in the emerging world. But this is all balderdash. Though neighbours, we understand nothing about Chinese culture, ways of thinking and mores. Just because the Indian version of Chinese food is widely found across India does not entitle us to any special knowledge of China as doesn't the fact that Buddhism of Indian origin took root in that country.

A lot of us have also been taken in by stories of rapid economic development in that country and the impressive physical superstructure built there. But this is a development without accountability. The physical development of China can be seen, but with their dense systems we do not know where all this money for development came from; whose savings is this investment built on? Is it the result of foreign investment or forced extractions from Chinese masses? After all, in a country from where organs are harvested from prisoners who are given death sentence, anything can happen. Contrary to its projection of an egalitarian society it is also now suspected the Chinese record of treatment of minorities is less than fair. Remember the riots in the western Chinese province of Uighur?

Today's (Friday's) morning papers give impressive pictures of the grand Chinese spectacle at Tianammen square in Beijing, but as Indians it is advisable that we do not fall for this great Chinese deception game. Be sure, behind the grand show is a mailed fist waiting to gorge India.

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