Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chinese envoy’s remark unwarranted: Doval

Chinese envoy’s remark unwarranted: Doval
An Interview by Rajeev Sharma
Nov 19, 2006
Source: The Sunday Tribune

Mr Ajit Kumar Doval, the former Chief of Intelligence Bureau, Government of India, is an internationally renowned expert on strategic affairs. He is known for his out-of-box thinking, unconventional wisdom and pragmatic views.
Mr Doval speaks to The Sunday Tribune exclusively on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to India beginning tomorrow.
Q: The Chinese Ambassador to India, Mr Sun Yuxin, has said the whole of Arunachal Pradesh belonged to China. What could be his motive behind this comment?
A: The remarks made by the Chinese Ambassador were bad in form and content. A subjective interpretation of facts, history and obligations under international law does not alter the realities. There is a bilateral mechanism in place where the border question is being addressed and such assertions do not help the process.
More important, it was the timing, stridency and the fact that the remark was made without any apparent provocation is disquieting. Obviously, it was a deliberate assertion and not an off the cuff remark. Its impact on President Hu Jintao’s visit could also not have been lost sight of. It may well be an attempt to put India on the defensive when addressing various bilateral issues.
Q: How do you see Mr Hu’s visit to India? Will it be a successful, substantive, forward-looking visit? Or is it just a stopover for Mr Hu who undertakes a far more important and sensitive visit to Pakistan from November 23?
A: It is a very important visit. India and China are poised to be two major players in the emerging global scenario and have much in common, both in strengths and problems. Together they have world’s one-third population, are fastest growing economies and share many problems of growth and development. Most important, they are neighbours with a long common border and it is in the interest of both the countries not to grow as strategic adversaries.
President Hu’s visit is an important visit and underrating it will be a mistake. Linking it to his visit to Pakistan may not be the right approach. With a long-term perspective, we need to formulate an independent China policy and firm sure footed moves at this stage will help in evolving that policy.
Q: Can India trust China considering Beijing’s close ties with its all-weather ally Pakistan? Is India’s China policy faulty? Should India reverse its stand on two crucial issues of Tibet and Taiwan? What will be the pros and cons if New Delhi were to do that?
A: The question of trust and distrust is not the issue. Identifying our best national interests and developing a convergence to achieve them is the issue. Let us not underestimate our own strengths. India is as important to China as China is to India in pursuing their respective long-term national interest. A conflict relationship is not in the interest of either country. How do we develop that commonality of interests, fully protecting our strategic, security, political and economic interests, is the challenge.
India does not have to speak from a position of weakness or strength but reasonableness and rationality. China would do well to develop greater sensitivity and understanding of India’s genuine concerns.
Q: Is it correct that the Chinese have re-started arming the Indian Northeast insurgents, reversing their own decades-old policy?
A: I don’t have any information about the Chinese arming the Northeastern insurgent group. I do not know what is the basis of your information. On the face of it, it looks highly unlikely to me.
Q: How do you see the trade route with China through Nathu La in Sikkim? Will it ultimately work as the Chinese mainland-Lhasa railway is now poised to expand to the Indian borders? What are the military and strategic implications of this railway line for India?
A: Opening of Nathu La for trade was an important move forward. Its trade potential, at least at this juncture, may not be very high but its symbolic import cannot be underestimated. It does have some security implications, but I am sure the agencies concerned would have taken appropriate countermeasures. Whether the experiment will prove to be fruitful or not will depend on overall evolution of relations between the two great neighbours.
Lhasa being connected to the mainland by a railway line has definite military and strategic implications for India. The railway infrastructure has been built which is capable of enhancing combat capability of China and transporting hardware for military offensive. India has to factor it in its higher defence planning and match the capabilities.
Q: How do you see the role of Yughen Thinley Dorjee, the Chinese-recognised 17th Karmapa working among the Tibetan Diaspora both within Tibet and outside, especially in India?
A: On the face of it, the whole sequence of his coming to India, establishing himself, developing contacts and linkages, gives an impression that there is more to the whole episode than what meets the eye.
I definitely feel that it is a sensitive matter and needs to be addressed from a higher plane of knowledge. Of course, if he is under the spell of some hostile influences, internal or external, it can be detrimental to India and we need to maintain a high degree of vigil.


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