Daily Answer Writing
24 May 2021

Q) In the recent times, the Sino-Indian relations have seen some difficult times. Comment on the possible counter building measures(CBMs) given the several contemporary challenges. (250 Words)

Source <https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/without-hyphens-external-affairs-minister-jaishankar-beijing-washington-delhi-7327198/>

GS 2: IR - Indian and Neighbourhood

Approach Answer:

Introduction:  Confidence-building measures (CBMs) are planned procedures to prevent hostilities, to avert escalation, to reduce military tension, and to build mutual trust between countries. In the recent times, due to various issues and challenges there have been a widening trust deficit between India and China which would be difficult to bridge.

 

  • Various Challenges in Indo-China Relations:
    • Border Disputes: There are three broad areas of disputes:
  1. In the Western Sector: Here, China has occupied 38000sqmiles of Indian territory(Aksai Chin); Also, Pakistan has also given 2170 sq. mile territory to China(Shaksgam Valley).
  2. In the Middle sector and Sikkim, the LAC is broadly aligned with the borders as India and China see it, with minor differences here. Barahoti (Uttarakhand) is a major point of contention. However, there is an attempt to occupy Bhutanese Doklam Plateau from the Chinese side.
  3. In the Eastern sector, it broadly corresponds with the border as India sees it, along the McMahon Line that separates Arunachal Pradesh from Tibet.
  • Border skirmishes: For example:
  1. In June 2017, Chinese PLA construction party had entered the Doklam area and attempted to construct a road leading to a 73 day stand-off
  2. In 2020, Stand-off and bloodshed in violence in which 20 soldiers died in Galwan Valley which has never been an area of contention, but China have been patrolling in recent years.
  3. Pangong Tso: There have been various skirmishes in recent times; last one being in 2020.
  • Brahmaputra Water 'dispute'
  1. Construction on several Dams: China says that it does not store or divert the water. However in recent years fear has been growing that China could suddenly release a huge amount of water.
  2. Blocking Hydrological Data Sharing: For example, In 2017, India did not receive any hydrological data during monsoon season, during Doklam Conflict. However, it was sharing same data with Bangladesh.
  3. Trade deficit: The trade deficit have been more than $50bn in the past recent years.
  4. Use of Economic Hegemony to interfere in South Asia: China uses its debt trap diplomacy to acquire assets and influence in South Asia. For example acquiring Hambantota port on 99 years lease.
  5. Blocking India's NSG Membership bid:  It contends that it should not be applicable to the countries, which have not signed NPT, applying a uniform criterion;
  6. Blocking UNSC reform: China has declined to unilaterally support India's case for Permanent Membership in UNSC.
  7. Indirect support to Terrorists: For example, China has repeatedly blocked India's move to put a ban on Pakistan based Jaish-e-Muhammad Terrorist Masood Azhar, who was involved in Pathankot Terror Attacks, frustrating India's efforts to curb terrorism.
  8. Cyber Attacks: In 2019, more than 50,000 cyber attacks were mounted on India from China.
  9. China Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC): Which passes from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir(POK) and is a strategic threat to India.
  • Counter building measures(CBMs) required:
  1. Summit level Talks: Such as seen in the Wuhan summit and the Mamallapuram Summit in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
  2. "Strategic Communication": at highest levels; Such as commander level talks.
  3. "Issue strategic guidance" to their militaries to build trust & understanding, essentially to "enhance predictability & effectiveness in the management of border affairs".
  4. Balancing the ballooning trade deficit of about $52bn: This can be done by encouraging agriculture and pharmaceutical export to China.
  5. Making Buffer zones, mutual pull-outs and suspending patrols at the LAC; However, it may send out the wrong message that both sides are equally responsible for the aggression. Thus, cautions must be taken.
  6. Reduce the heat over "irritants" in the relationship, such as: China's block on India's NSG membership bid, UN's terror designation for Pak-based groups, India's opposition to OBOR or Use of it Tibet issue.
  7. Existing mechanism should be strengthened , not allowing broader bilateral movement to be hit.

 

Conclusion: The China is following an undeclared strategy of Creeping aggression on borders with India, as it does with most of the neighbours. Thus there is a need to strengthen our border infrastructure and preparedness. Equally important is engaging with the world in the forums like Quad against China, while taking care of our strategic independence.

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