'India of 2020 powerful enough to protect its interests'

June 10 2020

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 India's deepening ties with the United States, other powerful western bloc and the recent development of occupying an important position at World Health Organization (WHO) amid the global Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a "panic in the Chinese hierarchy", top sources in the security establishment said on Wednesday.

Beijing, the sources observed, seems apprehensive that India, in order to strengthen its ties with the US and other countries, might use its new found position at the WHO to implicate China of being responsible for spreading the Covid-19 virus.

"It is possible that the current face-off in Eastern Ladakh could also be related to diverting the internal pressures being faced by Chinese President Xi Jinping due to the mishandling of the Covid-19 spread and worsening of the economic situation," source stated.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party through its mouthpiece Global Times had indirectly upped its aggressive and dominating mentality ahead of the India-China military interaction at the Chusul-Moldo meeting point on June 6. On June 5, China through this newspaper had stated that India should not be instigated by the US or the media hypes.

A source noted that it seems it is part of China's strategic messaging to the US partners on the inevitability of a Sino-centric Asia, and for India to stop ganging up against China or face the consequences from a predatory great power.

"Chinese provocations can also be seen in the context of Beijing's assertive position on the South China Sea, its keenly promoted Belt and Road Initiative (which India refused to join), and vigilance in the Indian Ocean where a string of Chinese naval posts have been set up," he said.

Recently, the tensions between China and the West have been heightening over a range of issues -- WHO investigating on the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, new legislation in Hong Kong, China imposing steep trade tariffs on Australia, as also a close confrontation between Chinese Navy and the US Navy in the South China Sea.

"And the India-US relations are on a high, but to say Washington is looking to the China-India dispute in order to gain from it could be an overstatement," the sources said.

India and China relations had strengthened with the two informal summits between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping in the past.

Over the years, China has not only become India's largest trading partner, but both the countries have also started to cooperate on a range of international issues like trade, climate change, unfair regulations of the World Trade Organization towards developing nations and reform of the global financial order.

Also, India and China are part of a number of important world forums including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

India has never joined a group or forum for going against the interest of a third nation.

The sources further pointed out, "The People's Liberation Army should also not attempt to undertake any kind of military misadventure on the false pretext that they are better and the Indian forces are akin to the 1960s."

"Indian armed forces in 2020 are much more modernised and equipped, and PLA should not take India lightly. Today India is a nuclear power with the third-largest army in the world and an air force and navy comparable to world standards," said a top official.

"Let us also not forget that Indian military is battle-hardened unlike the Chinese -- Indian Army has been engaged in two full-fledged wars and one limited but significant conflict with Pakistan since 1962; in two of these three, India scored decisive victories, with the 1971 War being a magnificent display of India's military prowess and execution," the source said.

Multiple top officers of the government stated that China should not take the risk of even a skirmish as no one can guarantee that it would remain confined to just the India-China border.

"Let both nations exploit this opportunity to resolve the border issue once and for all. Let both of them exchange the maps and delineate the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as a first step, rather than conduct a bullying media campaign against each other," the officers said, making it amply clear that India wants to resolve the dispute with neighbouring countries through peaceful means.

"But it will also not accept any bullying on any pretext. India is strong to defend its borders and to ensure its territorial integrity. India will not turn its back to the threat posed by the aggressive moves at its borders," the officers further added.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at sumit.k@ians.in)

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  • IANS