This editorial appeared in the English edition as well, on October 8, 2017 in a slightly modified form under the title “Editorial: India must overcome security paranoia”. The usual strikeout/italics format has been used below to afford a comparison between the two versions.)
In the days after the Chinese National Day Golden Week, Chinese society was still immersed in rare holiday mood, with public opinion centering on tourism and leisure activities. But in China’s south, in India, a considerable part of public opinion dwelt on the Sino-Indian border issue.
First, on 5 October, Indian media broke the news that China had resumed road construction ten kilometers north of the last Sino-Indian military confrontation (in Doklam). However, the Indian Foreign Ministry responded on the 6th to clarify that, “status quo prevails in the area. Any suggestion,
on to the contrary, is incorrect.”
Then Over the weekend, India’s new Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited the Sino-Indian border in Sikkim, Bhutan and China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. A newly constructed airport that she inspected during the visit, the nearest to China’s border, will be put into use in November. But her aggressive gesture of sudden appearance there seems to have been diluted by her friendly interactions with Chinese soldiers in Nathula. Video released by the Indian Defense Ministry shows that she acknowledged the (Chinese) soldiers with a traditional namaste greeting ceremony.
Indian media frequently hypes “the next round of standoffs” between Beijing and New Delhi but Indian authorities don’t seem to support such speculation.
The Indian reports about China’s road building in the Doklam region are questionable as it is winter, so not the right season for construction work. At the same time, Doklam is Chinese territory and under effective control and supervision of the Chinese government. During the Doklam face-off, Beijing intensified efforts to develop infrastructure in the region and road construction there will be a long-term trend. If some Indians think that China will “seek the Indian side’s permission” to build a road in the area, that surely is (asking for) a bit too much.
Some Indian nationalists over-estimate India’s strength and rights, assuming New Delhi
can bark orders across the border at Beijing can order the Chinese side across the border. There is no such rule in international law, and New Delhi cannot capriciously arrogate to itself authority to override international law.
India’s concerns about the Siliguri Corridor’s security are understandable, but New Delhi cannot mess around. China is also concerned about the transport route security across the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Malacca, but Beijing has taken no coercive measures to achieve its aims. Moreover, what threat did China pose to the new Indian border airport to warrant an inspection visit there by the Indian woman Defense Minister ?
New Delhi may be worried, but first it needs to exercise restraint. Secondly, It can only strengthen military infrastructure on its own soil when and where international law permits. (Thus even if) it were to despatch all its military personnel to the Siliguri corridor, China cannot (will not be in a position to) say anything to it. Thirdly, It
should consider deepening it is worthwhile (for India) to conduct in-depth strategic security communication with China, which can enhance mutual trust between China and India and actively foster long-term peace and tranquility at the China-India border.
China advocates good-neighborliness and exercises enormous restraint and patience during the Doklam crisis. India should try to keep its security concerns at a reasonable level, but it would be hysterical if New Delhi risked peace and development for security worries.
China has no intention of fostering enemity with India. Good-neighborly friendship is China’s firm national policy. For a long time, China has not used its strength as a bargaining chip to deal with the Sino-Indian border issue. During the crisis, China maintained great patience and gave the Indian side an opportunity to correct its mistake and voluntarily withdraw its troops. If India’s concern about the security of the Siliguri corridor is of a general nature, it will fall in the category of the normal. But if India were to go all-out and stake peace and development in order to “block off China from the Siliguri corridor”, that would be (getting to be) hysterical.
China is not willing to see that ties with India consume too much energy and India is not a major focus for China’s strategic ambition.In fact, India’s strategic circles know that China is not willing to struggle with India, Speaking of China’s ambitions, the main focus is not about which side India is on (strategically). Maintaining Sino-Indian friendship is a strategic instinct and a rational choice for China.
China’s infrastructure construction in the Doklam region is logical, but India’s strong reaction is eccentric. Indian society is sensitive and arrogant, and Indian media is amplifying nationalism. India must overcome its paranoia and China has no obligation to indulge India.
If India does not take the initiative (to make up with China) at this juncture (in this instance), few in China will understand how it is related to the Siliguri corridor or what the situation in the northeastern region of India is. China has long been implementing construction of “village roads”, and all blueprints for infrastructure construction in China’s border areas can be described as routine (reasonable/logical). But the strong reaction of the Indian people to road construction by border patrol troops in the Donglang border region can not but be said to be weird. It is a problem of Indian society’s own making. Of sensitivity, inexplicable arrogance, and nationalism in the claws of the media. India has to cure itself of its disease on its own. China has no obligation to indulge it like a spoilt brat.