Down to Chinatown
Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 05:26 AM EDT
When the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) labels your country a security threat, you will probably sit up and take notice. The Global Times published the results of a pulse survey where 90% of the respondents indicated that Chinaâ€™s security was threatened by India. The article provides a rare insight into the political machinations of Big Red.
The pollster, huanqiu.com, also hosts a defense and strategic affairs Internet chat forum, which is very much in the mold of many other defense forums â€“ mostly filled with bravado and rhetoric, and generally lacking in pragmatism. But what makes this blogger take notice isnâ€™t so much that such distorted numbers existed, but that a mouthpiece newspaper for the CCP would publish these results, and pass them off as having merit. The website also polled users on other questions concerning India, a translation of which is included here.
After all, the most recent World Public Opinion (2008), indicated that while there was a general antipathy towards India in China (44% had an unfavorable opinion of India), the statistics were not nearly as skewed as the newspaper article suggests.
All this because of reports that India is deploying an additional two divisions (mainly light infantry) and two SU-30MKI squadron in Arunachal Pradesh, which China considers â€œdisputedâ€, and part of â€œSouthern Tibetâ€. However, while the dispatching of additional firepower to Arunachal Pradesh is a welcome sign, it merely acts as a deterrent in the here and now to Chinese misadventurism and doesnâ€™t really give India the sense of parity that it needs along the McMahon Line. Indeed, the most urgent need in Arunachal is not in the deployment of additional troops, per se, but in the development of border infrastructure.
China has worked feverishly to ensure that sufficient infrastructure is in place to be able to quickly move troops and supplies from as far out as Lhasa to the border through land and air. That India has withdrawn from over 40 border roads projects committed through the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) doesnâ€™t help make matters better.
The recent brouhaha about India in the Chinese press certainly means that China is concerned about Indiaâ€™s growing presence in Arunachal Pradesh. The deployment of additional troops, and the presumtive refocusing on BRO projects in Arunachal are baby steps, but essential and need to be taken. Manmohan Singhâ€™s government has been blisfully asleep to Chinaâ€™s growing presence in the Indian Ocean and the leverage it now has with Indiaâ€™s neighbors, Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. This, aside from the â€œall weatherâ€ friendship that it has with Pakistan. The time has come for India to formulate a strategic response to Chinaâ€™s growing influence in the region. One can only hope that Indiaâ€™s message to China vis-a-vis troop deployments, are only part, and not the full extent of Indiaâ€™s reply to Chinaâ€™s hegemoneous designs.
This article originally appeared on The Filter Coffee.