China has a border dispute with almost all its neighbours – both on land and sea – with almost blatant territorial ambitions with little regard for the sovereign rights of other nations.
Among those at the receiving end is India. China doesn’t care about India’s territorial integrity. In the past two days, Chinese troops provoked skirmishes with Indian soldiers at the border in Sikkim. Chinese helicopters flew close to the Line of Actual Control(LAC) with India in Ladakh.
Now, China is building a dam on Indian territory occupied by Pakistan. A Chinese company has signed a deal with the Pakistan government. A $5.8 billion deal to build a dam in Gilgit-Baltistan which falls in Pakistan occupied Kashmir(PoK) which is technically Indian territory but China is doing business with Pakistan, despite India’s objections.
The project is called the Diamer-Bhasha dam. The contract has gone to a joint venture led by Power China which is a Chinese company. The other partner is the frontier works organization which is a subsidiary of the Pakistan Army, which in a sense is a joint venture of China and the Pakistan Army. The project is a win-win for both sides.
China gets more deals and the Pakistan army makes more money. China seems to have virtually repossessed Pakistan even as worldwide the work on the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) has come to a grinding halt because of the Wuhan virus.
On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to his Sri Lankan counterpart Gotabaya Rajapaksa. President Xi wanted “gradual resumption” of cooperation towards BRI.
Pakistan newspaper Dawn reported that work on the the Diamer-Bhasha dam will begin in a couple of weeks which is a dam project on indian territory. Since 1949, China has been involved in 23 territorial disputes. Now, only six remain which serves China’s strategic purpose for Beijing to needle regional rivals.
On Tuesday, the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement on the border situation with India. The tone was far from friendly, which almost said that meet China halfway, avoid taking actions that might “complicate” the situation which is unabashed hypocrisy from China considering that all its actions complicate the situation.
The list of Beijing’s provocations is long and growing. It led a failed attempt to internationalise India’s Kashmir decision at the United Nations Security Council.
China’s troops clashed with Indian soldiers in Sikkim and now, it is building a dam on territory that belongs to India. It’s time for New Delhi to pay back in kind and India is not short of options.
It can use its own diplomatic levers to send a message to China, for instance, remove Huawei from India’s 5G program over security concerns.
Already, curbs have been placed on Chinese investments in Indian companies. The government can do more. India can leverage the situation in Hong Kong and make a statement by backing the pro-Democracy protesters. All these are options that can be exercised in the coming days and weeks but, there is one thing that India can do right now – support Taiwan.