The situation on the border which was becoming serious, with Trump trying to use it as his proxy war with China by offering his mediation, is now getting settled for the time being, with both sides withdrawing their forces to agreed positions, through bi-lateral discussions without any mediation. As many comrades, our friends, and common people are asking what should be the communist approach to border questions and relations with neighbouring countries in the context of the border clashes between India and China, please give it maximum publicity to develop a discussion on this important question. Comrades can utilize lot of materials coming out in progressive portals including maps and satellite pictures and books on history of these disputes to deepen their understanding and help the discussion – Red Star
- Our Country is already in a critical situation with the internal policies of Modi led corporate fascist rule, which is hurriedly transforming it in to a Hindurashtra, as programmed by RSS. In continuation to it, and as a reflection of it, important developments are taking place in its foreign policy also. It started becoming more marked after it started increasingly dove-tailing its foreign policy with that of US, hurriedly strengthening the strategic partnership agreement with it, which was initiated by the UPA government. During the recent India-China skirmishes in Ladakh sector for few weeks, there were attempts by Trump administration to aggravate these through its mediation proposal, and with its later comments. Though both sides refused any mediation, the discussions Modi held after a couple of days with Trump on Issues including the India-China border disputes show the general orientation of Modi government’s foreign policy.
- In 2014 when Modi invited leaders of all South Asian countries to his oath taking and had a round of discussion with them, an impression was created that there is going to be a progressive shift in India’s foreign policy. But soon, his trip was to Nepal was used to approach it as a Hindurashtra, which started facing resistance there. Slowly, relation with Nepal went on deteriorating as the borders with it were closed for months, and as he aggravated the big brother approach to it. Now, with India opening the raod to Mansarovar through Kalapani, which Nepal claims as its territory, the long standing relations with it has reached the lowest level, with it increasingly leaning to Chinese side. Modi’s Islamophobia and hate Pakistan campaign, Balakot adventure and abrogation of Article 370, reducing J&K to two Union Territories have worsened relation with Pakistan so much that all cross-border trade and relations are cut, and both cannot talk even about jointly facing the locust menace! Modi’s Islamophobia, closest relations with Zionist Israel, communal amendment to the citizenship act and the latest instance of communalizing the anti-Covid fight has alienated Bangladesh, and worsened relations with all Arab countries. All other neighbouring countries, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar have moved closer to China. Even Bhutan after Doklam standoff is moving closer to China.
- After India-China War in 1962, the bi-lateral relations were frozen for a long time. The dialogue re-started after then PM, Rajiv Gandhi’s Beijing visit in 1986, has reached up to the agreement on the Line of Actual Control, LAC. But the question of transmitting the LAC in the map to the ground, demarcating the actual border is not completed still. So, “face-off and stand-off situations occur along the LAC in areas where India and China have overlapping claim lines. The LAC has never been demarcated. Differing perceptions are particularly acute in around two dozen spots across the Western (Ladakh), Middle (Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand), Sikkim, and Eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors of the India-China border. The boundary in the Sikkim sector is broadly agreed, but has not been delineated. Face-offs occur when patrols encounter each other in the contested zones between overlapping claim lines. Protocols agreed to in 2005 and 2013 detail rules of engagement to prevent such incidents, but have not always been adhered to”( The Hindu, 10th June) As a result many times, like what happened around Doklam standoff along the LAC military moves and conflicts were continuing which were resolved using the Protocols agreed. When reports of latest incident in Ladakh followed Chinese incursions along LAC and India military pushing them back as reported widely with satellite pictured and interviews with Indian military officers (theprint.in) on the one hand RSS parivar and the saffron media once again started chauvinist attacks on China. On the other hand Trump tried to utilize the conflict in it campaign against China by offering to mediate. There were speculations about possible escalation of the conflict with dangerous consequences. But at a phase, both sides refused any mediations and started dialogue at different levels, as the latest reports show agreeing to withdraw the forces to earlier agreed positions.
- During the last few weeks, the India-China border dispute was not only an important national news, it received considerable international attention also. Especially because, during his talk Trump invited Modi to attend the next meeting of G-7, which Trump was planning to expand to G-12 by inviting Russia, Australia, Japan and South Korea besides India. This US move is significant, when there are clear indications that in the post Covid situation there are possibilities for the balance of power changing at international level. Even before the pandemic, it was evident that US is in decline in all fields except military power. The heavy toll of Covid19, and now the powerful revolt of the Blacks supported by others against in-built racialism in US establishment have further weakened it. China on the one hand, and the European powers, Germany and France on the other, are challenging US dominance. But, as repeatedly proved in history, no super power will leave the arena without a last ditch effort to retain it. Especially, US imperialism, acting as the policeman of the world was the hegemonic power for last seven decades, possessing the greatest ever military power. In spite of increasing weaknesses in all other fields, it is not going to leave the scene without a frantic effort to retain or at least prolong it.
- Along with expanding the G-7 to G--12, Trump wants to contain China by strengthening its own Asia-Pacific axis with India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand. As US could not gain much in the South China Sea conflict with China, he was hoping for an escalation of the border conflict in the Himalayas so that he can at least prolong US domination and use this to win another term in November elections. US presidents have played similar games in the past many times.
- As far as the RSS parivar is concerned, as soon as the border conflict started it started war mongering as usual. If it is hate politics they use to oppose Pakistan, it is ‘boycott Chinese goods and become self reliant’ against China. As a part of it, the defense minister called for building production centres and more infra-structure near Chinese borders. A systematic chauvinist campaign is launched by RSS to whip up nationalist passions targeting China. This is happening at a time when its chauvinist, expansionist approach has worsened the relations with all neighbouring countries, including Nepal. For Modi and RSS, the strategic goal is to strengthen partnership with US imperialism, and use it to weaken Pakistan and to strengthen its dominant position in South Asia.
- This time also, like Doklam last year, there was a stalemate like situation in the beginning after initial confrontations between the military forces of both sides. After pushing "sizeable number" of troops into Indian territory along LAC, China was trying to utilize its advantageous position. But, at a certain point, both sides agreed to hold highest level military officers’ discussion followed by diplomats level discussions. According to latest reports, both sides have agreed to withdraw to earlier agreed positions. But, so long as the agreement on the LAC on the ground is arrived at as well as the basic border dispute itself is discussed and resolved, possibilities for the conflict bursting out any time and vested interests trying to utilize for their own purposes shall continue to remain.
- Another important aspect is, in spite of whatever RSS/BJP cyber sena is propagating for their sectarian aims, India's trade relations and technological dependence on China in many spheres cannot e wished away. Even Indian military is now importing raw materials required for its entire bulletproof jackets from China. Formerly, this import was from US. All such dealings continue in accordance with the laws of market (of capital) that prevail in all international dealings. As far as China is concerned, as logistically, as it has attained its goal of pushing forward its forces to advantageous position, and in view of its image as an international player, China, with all its global imperialist aims, is not interested for further escalation of the situation. Presently these factors led to the resolution of the border dispute after causing many apprehensions. It means that so long as the present ruling system continue in both countries, in order to resolve their domestic and international purposes any of them can create conditions for flaring up of the conflict on the border.
- One important aspect of the ruling class politics everywhere and India is that the Congress and the other opposition parties are not coming out with any criticism of the entire foreign policy pursued by Modi government, which has further antagonized relation with its two important neighbours China and Pakistan, and worsened the relation with all the other neighbours, and also with all Arab countries. They treat foreign policy as a sacred cow always, and when such conflicts break out blindly support the government in power, afraid to stand against the chauvinistic campaign unleashed by ruling class media. As far as the stand of CPI(M) led parties who still consider China as a socialist country, is concerned, they have never taken a consistent stand based on proletarian internationalism.
- Already, as always the border conflict is utilized to divert the attention of the people from the criminal acts of commission and omission by the Modi government in handling the fight against the Covid pandemic, from the acute distress it caused to tens of millions of migrant workers and other sections of impoverished people due to the abrupt announcement of the lockdown, and from the extreme economic crisis, the burden of which will be thrown to their back. Besides, utilizing the tension on the border, Modi will carry forward his militarization program, the burden of which also will come over the people. On the whole, any increase in the tension on the border shall lead to further attacks on the masses of people. The socio-economic condition of the already impoverished masses shall be further weakened, leading them to more acute distress.
- As far as the ruling class in any country is concerned they use war mongering against a created enemy and jingoism is unleashed to hoodwink the masses. During the last 75 years after Second World War, though there were no World Wars, there were numerous local wars instigated mainly by the US imperialists to prolong their hegemony, repeatedly proving that imperialism means war, and so long as it exists, wars are inevitable. The same is the case with the junior partners of imperialist powers also. Similar to what is happening in J&K, the ruling classes on both sides shall go on fighting making life hell both in IOK and POK, spending a major part of revenue for it at the expense of people’s welfare. In order to cover up the truth and to win over even ordinary people to back them, jingoism, hate politics based on communalism and national chauvinism are instigated. Our sub-continent is one of the worst examples for it. So, whether war is imminent or not, is not a point of our debate. As a result of extremely complicated conflict of several factors, it can break out any time; it is difficult to predict it. Our point should be how we can develop understanding about how the ruling class of our country have succeeded to deny the right of self determination to the peoples of J&K and Northeast, how they embittered relations with Pakistan to such a level that even fighting locusts jointly cannot be discussed, why relations with all neighbouring countries are worsening, while the country is opened to looting by the very same forces against whom we fought the independence struggle. Under Modi this subservience goes to the extent of organizing Namaste Trump, while we refuse to combat Covid together with our neighbours. In such a situation, even if it is not happening now, the US administration led by Trump or anyone else can use the India-China border tension any time in the future also to provoke a proxy war with China using the Indian soldiers as cannon fodder. So, the cardinal point is even when we are fighting the ever intensifying danger of Covid19, if the leaders of India and China could create war mongering and Trump could at least try to utilize it to prolong US hegemony and win the November elections, if they can make many among the masses deaf and blind using jingoism, the danger of war always exists which can make it difficult for the people to decide which is more important, in this context, war-mongering or fighting the pandemic?
- It is in this context, instead of getting satisfied with a passive stand, the Communist Revolutionaries should take a pro-active stand; they should have an independent communist stand on this question. They should call for political settlement of all issues including border disputes with all neighbouring countries, which are continuing from colonial times, through bi-lateral discussions, using advanced scientific tools. They should oppose any armed conflict for settling border questions. They should firmly oppose India’s alliance or strategic partnership with any imperialist country or bloc. They should strongly condemn and reject any prime minister talking its border issue with US or any other imperialist power. In spite of the best efforts of the CRs and all progressive forces, still the border war breaks out, we should come out openly opposing it, while continuing the struggle for revolutionary transformation of the society.
Compatriots, Friends and Comrades, our party, CPI (ML) Red Star from its proletarian internationalist positions, has repeatedly called for peaceful settlement of the border dispute between India and China and with other countries, which are leftovers from the colonial days through bi-lateral discussions with neighbourly spirit. But contrary to earlier reports, the border conflict has become more serious, with the air force of both sides also active in the region. Meanwhile there were reports that Indian Navy is asked to intervene if Chinese vessels are sighted in nearby seas. The Chinese spokespersons are repeatedly claiming that Galwan Valley belongs to them. India has repeatedly rejected it, and asks Chinese troops to withdraw from the disputed areas in the valley. The standoff started from the first week of May when Chinese troops were sighted there, according to Indian army. Then there were series of discussions up to corps commander level and it was told on 5th June that an agreement on de-escalation and disengagement is arrived at and it will be completed soon. On 12th June the Army chief said at Dehra Dun that disengagement is progressing well.
But on 16th June afternoon there were reports of death of two Indian jawans and an officer in the disputed area occupied by Chinese. By 9 pm the tally became one officer and 19 jawans, but all others of the battalion safe. Next day it was told 76 jawans were also injured, of them four seriously. Then we heard four officers and six jawans were handed over by the Chinese troops. There was absolutely no transparency even in such important questions. Meanwhile mud-slinging between BJP and Congress started on whether Indian area is under Chinese, and who surrendered to China more, which is still continuing in new forms. On 18th the external affairs minister of India told his Chinese counterpart that the Chinese troops had entered on the Indian side of Galwan Valley and tried to erect structures leading to the 15th clash.
But, in the 19th June all party meeting, after reports of defense and foreign ministers and queries raised by Congress and other parties, without answering any of the queries, surprising everybody present, PM Modi categorically stated that “nobody entered our territory and captured any post!” It was his conscious move to confuse the discussion without giving out facts. The Chinese side quoted Modi to justify their claim to Galwan Valley. On 20th, Indian side came out with an explanatory note rejecting Chinese claim and defending Modi’s statement saying “it was on the situation after the clash”. LAC has become very tense, with fears of new flare ups. Reports of tension in other hot spots also started coming out. On 22nd before going to Moscow, the defense minister Rajnath Singh issued a hawkish statement, if China acts, give fitting reply. Though their counterparts from China also were at Moscow, neither he, nor the foreign minister who attended the tripartite meeting with Chinese and Russian foreign ministers tried to take up the border question at political level.
After 23rd meeting of corps commanders, again reports came that consensus on disengagement is arrived at, but no time frame. On 25th diplomatic level discussion took place in which both sides agreed to implement the de-escalation. But latest reports from both sides show that the situation is becoming worse. Meanwhile, Phulwama style statements are issued by Modi that the blood of Bihari jawans will not go in vain, trying to incite Bihari pride to help him win the coming assembly elections there. As the satellite pictures of Chinese still occupying the post where the clash coming out, Modi is on the defensive! BJP is trying to overcome it by strengthening its “China Boycott” campaign, and digging deep in to Congress history to attack it.
As BJP as well as Congress are reducing the debate on the border question to who surrendered more to Chinese and mobilization of forces on both side increasing, there is a real danger of a flare up, with the RSS parivar organizing Boycott China campaign and provoking war mongering and jingoism.
This apprehension is strengthened as Modi govt has down-sized diplomatic relations with Pakistan. And Modi is not taking any steps to call for a foreign affairs’ minister level meeting, if necessary followed by a meeting between him and Chinese president Xi for a political solution to the Galwan issue. All the progressive forces should raise their voice, demanding a political solution through a Modi-Xi talk. The standoff should not be allowed to develop in to a border war, which will be against the people of India, as well of China who are suffering under the Covid19 crisis and economic recession. Mobilizing all progressive forces we should come out firmly against war mongering, which may lead to a border war
Compatriots, friends and comrades,
The PB and the CC of the CPI(ML) Red Star held urgent online meetings following the sad and disturbing reports of 16th June night that the standoff between Indian and Chinese forces started from April led to violent clashes on 15th night in Galwan Valley for the first time in 50 years with casualties on both sides, including the death of 20 jawans and injuries to some more on the Indian side. The meetings of the PB and CC extended heartfelt condolences to the families of the jawans who lost their life.
The Indian Army has stated that 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action in a violent face-off with Chinese soldiers in the Galwan area on 15th night in sharp escalation of tensions in the midst of a process of disengagement from their stand-off that began six weeks ago. The Chinese foreign ministry and army claimed that Indian troops had provoked violence by crossing over to their territory, the Galvan Valley which ‘always belonged to them’.
According to Indian army statements, it faced Chinese troops there in early May, for the first time in 50 years, leading to the first face-off on the night of May 5-6. Now it is absolutely clear that contrary to what was told by the army chief and government spokespersons repeatedly, no basic understanding on disengagement from the valley could be reached as China was claiming sovereignty over it in the series of disengagement talks up to corps commanders’ level on 6th June. So, after the 15th violent incident, now it is clear that after this, military level discussion was not sufficient. It was absolutely imperative that diplomatic and political initiatives at the highest levels from both the countries was required urgently to diffuse the situation. But the prime minister Modi who had met the Chinese president a dozen times for long discussions during last six years, including last year at Chennai, did not take any initiative for its resolution. Even after escalation of the standoff to clashes leading to death of 20 jawans on 15th night, till 17th evening he has not come out with a formal statement except for a characteristic tirade to incite jingoism, with claims of retaliation at appropriate time!
Compatriots, the border disputes are leftovers of the colonial days. Even the boundary demarcations were used by British colonialists as part of their ‘divide and rule’ policy. Contrary to the stand taken during independence struggle, Congress governments had failed to settle the border disputes. During the last six years, under Modi rule, the relations with all neighboring countries have further worsened on the one hand due to its Islamophobia, or on the other because of its increasing role in the Asia-Pacifi axis strengthened by US to serve its inter-imperialist contradictions with China.
During the last six years Modi has led the country from one crisis to another. Its economic policies had led to recession even before the Covid19 broke out. Though lockdown was announced abruptly on 24th March midnight without any medical or other preparations in the name of containing this pandemic, even after 83 days the Covid19 pandemic is taking more dangerous proportions day by day. We have also witnessed what this government did to the tens of millions of migrant workers who became jobless and shelter-less and thrown to temporary shelters, often starving, compelling many to walk back to their villages, a more gruesome sight than what this country faced during the days of partition. The economy is in unprecedented crisis, further impoverishing the masses, and making unemployment leaping to record levels. Now, as the latest developments prove, as a result of its subservience to US imperialism as its junior partner, it has led to worsening of relations with all neighbors including Nepal taking the standoff with China to dangerous levels. And the burden of the consequences of all criminal acts of Modi rule are thrown to the backs of the vast toiling masses. Like Covid was used as a cover to suppress all political enemies, to spread Islamophobia and state terror so far, now Modi, after allowing the border conflict to reach such an impasse through his deliberate inaction, is using it to spread jingoism and war mongering using the death of Indian jawans, like the jawans killed in Phulwama followed by Balakot was used to win the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Our appeal to our compatriots is not to allow Modi government to hoodwink us and put us in more miseries by encouraging war jingoism as it used the Covid pandemic to speed up neoliberal corporate policies and to impoverish more, apart from communally dividing us further. At this critical juncture, in the name of exposing the weakness of Modi rule, instead of calling for a negotiated serrlement of the border dispute, Congress and other parliamentary opposition is trying to prove more nationalistic!
Our appeal to the fraternal people of China, who have a great history, is that along with our government, your government is also worsening the border conflict which both of us do not want. Instead of settling it through negotiations, in order to evade their responsibility of fulfilling the basic needs of the people and work for peace, both governments are whipping up war jingoism. We appeal to both Indian and Chinese people who have the heritage of a long standing fraternal relations between our two great peoples, to the Nepalese people and people of all other neighboring countries is that let us not allow the reactionary ruling classes of our countries to divide us in the name of border disputes, a leftover from the colonial days, Islamophobia and racism; let us work together to refrain our governments from dragging us to border wars which will lead to the loss of lives of many more of our jawans in the army in all our countries as cannon fodder to serve the interests of imperialists and their junior partners, and make life more miserable to us, the vast majority of the toiling common people.
K N Ramachandran
CPI(ML) Red Star
17th June 2020
India is fast losing its friends in the neighbourhood. This time, the top priority project of Modi, a road to reach Kailash-Manasarovar in Tibet, is the prime reason for antagonizing Nepal and provoking border skirmishes with China. Government of Nepal has published a political map of the country which includes Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh as part of its sovereign territory based on 1816 treaty signed by British with then ruler of Nepal, through which the road goes. Nepal PM has asked India govt to remove “encroachments” from the area.
Indian army chief General M.M. Naravane’s remarks that the Nepali government had protested the inauguration of India’s link road to Mount Kailash in Lipulekh at the behest of China has united all sections of Nepalese society – including all the political parties in the opposition against it. India’s sovereignty over the Lipulekh Pass is yet to be established as it continues to be a disputed region. In the last 26 years of discussions, the Nepal-India Joint Technical Level Boundary Committee was able to settle nearly 97% of the border, but failed to resolve the dispute over Kalapani and Susta. In 2009, both sides had “agreed to resolve the long standing border disputes between the two countries at various places, including Kalapani and Susta through further discussions.”
The Lipulekh Pass, which lies at the centre of the current dispute, is situated at an altitude of 5,000 metres. Nepal claims that the Indian army has encroached 372 square kilometres towards Limpiyadhura from Kalapani since the 1962 Indo-China war. At that time, Nepal, as a friendly neighbour, granted permission to the Indian army to set up a camp in the region. Subsequently, despite several firm requests by Nepal to evacuate the camp, India continued the occupation. Reports from Nepal claim that Indians from UP and Bihar have encroached on over 60,000 hectares of land in 23 out of the 75 bordering districts. There is a great deal of hue and cry in Nepal over encroachment. As India refuses to even discuss these, and now has constructed the road stealthily, it has enraged the Nepalese people greatly. PM of Nepal, Oli’s words reflect it. The Indian army chief‘s comments not only wounded Nepalese national sentiment. It has dragged China also in to this dispute, and as US hurriedly came forward supporting India and accusing China, these border skirmishes have given an international character to the dispute. The Nepali prime minister’s harsh comment on India in Nepal’s parliament recently is an indication of a deepening sense of alienation. Under Modi, once again the army chief has made foray into external relations, worsening the situation. Is history is repeating? Was it not the arrogant treatment given to Chinese PM Chou Enlai by the UP CM Gobind Ballab Pant along with the enthusiastic interference by US president Kennedy worsened the Indo-China relations, abruptly ended the conciliation talks and led to India’s China War in 1962?
During the last six years, Modi govt has worsened relations with all neighbours with its arrogant, majoritarian Hindutva approach. So, all of them who had complaints about India’s expansionism and big brotherly attitude have moved away. In continuation to its reactionary, divisive internal policy based on hate politics, relations are spoiled not only with the neighbours, but with all the Arab countries. Its foreign policy is focused only on strategic junior partnership with US administration. Naturally, US exploit the situation, trying to provoke a proxy war between India and China, to settle its own contradictions with it. It shows how under Modi India is dragged in to a situation in which the Indian army may be used as cannon fodder in another conflict with China, to serve US interests. It is not patriotism Modi, it is treason! All progressive forces should create public opinion to prevent Modi playing another dangerous game, making people suffer for his follies