Indo-Chinese territorial disputes have a long-standing history. At one time, the English colonialists, acting on the well-known principle of “divide and rule,” divided their colonies in Hindustan and around it into two large parts — the Indian and Muslim proper, setting the boundaries without taking into account local traditions, in order to sow enmity for a long time between the closest neighbors .
As a result, India found itself connected to its eastern landlocked states by a narrow corridor of Siliguri between the territory of Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. A significant part of the cordon with Pakistan and almost the entire border with China, it has become a disputed territory. Moreover, the “division line” between China and Bhutan, India’s closest and loyal ally in the region, was not established until the end. Therefore, the Indo-Butano-Chinese tangle for a long time became a source of burning contradictions, sometimes growing into an armed conflict, and is still not unraveled.
From June 1955 to July 1962, more than 30 armed conflicts occurred in the border area. In 1962, the PLA inflicted a serious defeat on the Indians, occupying the region of Aksaychin under the control of the PRC (42,7 thousand sq. Km, approximately 20% of the state of Jammu and Kashmir). In 1967, two limited military clashes occurred in Sikkim (from 1975, the Indian state between Nepal and Bhutan). In 1986 – 1987, Indian and Chinese troops were again on the verge of conflict in Samdurong Chu, in the west of the disputed territory.
As already noted, the situation is exacerbated by the British legacy of cutting frontiers in the region. In 1890, the British protectorate of Sikkim (from 1975 of the year - Indian state) and Tibet (from 1950 of the year - part of China) concluded an agreement according to which Doklam border plateau is part of Tibet (now, according to the authorities of the PRC, Beijing). However, India and Bhutan refuse to recognize this document. Bhutan considers this territory its own, and India supports its claims. Negotiations between Beijing and Thimphu lasted for years, but they did not lead to any result. The only thing up to which the PRC and Bhutan have agreed is to solve the problem peacefully and not to lead military construction in the disputed region. These abstracts were formalized in the 1988 and 1998 agreements. According to the authorities of India and Bhutan, by starting the construction of a road to the Doklam Plateau, China has violated these treaties.
WHAT DOES INDIA RISE?
New Delhi fears that, taking control of the Docklam Plateau, China will threaten the Siliguri corridor (Chicken Neck), a small strip of Indian territory sandwiched between Nepal and Bangladesh, which connects the main territory of the country with seven eastern states ("Seven Sisters "). The total area of "sisters" - 262 thousand square meters. km (almost half of France), population - 38 million people.
By building a road to the Doklam plateau in the event of a conflict with India, the Chinese army will be able, in approximately eight hours, to transfer troops a little more than 100 km from the notorious Siliguri corridor. Understandably, the Indians fear that the potential throw of the Chinese army could create a “bag” immediately around the eight Indian states and allow Beijing to dictate its conditions while redividing the borders in the region.
In addition, it must be borne in mind that Bhutan, in the disputed territory of which the road being built by China is passing, is one of the most friendly states in India in South Asia.
A formally independent state, Bhutan is heavily dependent on India. According to the agreement concluded in 1949, the authorities of the monarchy transferred New Delhi leadership of their foreign policy and defense. This vassal relationship persists to this day. Suffice it to say that Bhutan has no diplomatic relations either with China or with most other countries of the world (including Russia). All contacts are made through their embassies located in India.
In general, before 2007, Bhutan did not have an independent foreign policy and was guided by Indian recommendations. The Indian military base is still there, and India’s influence on Bhutan is very large. Nevertheless, there are currently forces in Bhutan that advocate a more independent foreign policy, including in relations with China. Therefore, it is important for India to show that it is necessary for Bhutan to ensure territorial integrity, and to demonstrate its strength and determination to firmly uphold Bhutanese territorial interests. And if it turns out that the Bhutanese are counting on it in vain, then India will have to say goodbye to the dreams of regional leadership and the prospects for becoming a great power. Who will believe a country that failed to help the closest ally?
In the military-political sphere, India is concerned that China is providing military support to Pakistan. The standoff between India and Pakistan has been going on for more than half a century, which has spurred a mutual arms race, forcing a large group of armed forces to concentrate on the border. And Beijing supplies Pakistan with weapons, and actively participates in the modernization of the armed forces of Pakistan.
India’s concern is also caused by China’s economic and trade expansion. In recent years, Beijing has formulated its ambitions in the form of the “One Belt, One Road” concept, which in India is considered to threaten Indian interests. And although China does not build any anti-Indian plans, but it is so much stronger than India that, expanding its presence in the world, it involuntarily frightens its less organized and purposeful neighbor. But most of all India is irritated by the Sino-Pakistani economic corridor, which leads China directly to the entrance to the Persian Gulf, where the port of Gwadar is already functioning. This corridor can permanently tie Islamabad to Beijing.
DO WANT INDIA AND CHINA OF WAR
Both in Beijing and in New Delhi there are enough politicians who understand that it is better for China and India to be partners than enemies who want, if not solved, then to soften controversial issues. It is clear that there can be no question of any territorial concessions or the exchange of territories - but in the strength of both countries it is impossible to avoid the escalation of territorial disputes, fixing the status quo. And not to succumb to the provocations of third forces — after all, it is clear that the United States, for whom China is the main rival in the international arena, is very interested in inflating anti-Chinese sentiments in India. Therefore, the United States, as well as the British before, support Indians in dislike of China.
But whatever the reason for the exacerbation of the conflict between the two nuclear powers, its transition to the military phase would be a huge blow to the security of not only the region, but the whole world.
Therefore, in spite of all the ominous statements and movements of the troops, now they do not want a big war either in New Delhi or in Beijing. There is too much risk that someone will press the red button.
The parties do not need a small border conflict either. In any outcome, both sides will lose. Defeat will mean an automatic rejection of claims for regional leadership, for which India and China are fighting. The victory will cause a surge of suspicion and accusations of expansionist plans and the desire to subjugate all the countries of the region. Given the amount of money and strength that Beijing and New Delhi have invested in bringing peace-loving countries to the world community over the past decades, the price of victory will be too high.
For the sake of justice, it should be noted that both in New Delhi and in Beijing they want the Asians themselves to decide everything in Asia, but this cannot be done without refusing to see the enemy in the neighbor. Two civilizations share a common millennial history, and the Himalayas share - and there are no serious prerequisites and reasons for their conflict.
Both China and India understand that they do not need the existing problem. They would be happy to come to an agreement, but they are afraid of losing face, damaging the authority of their countries in the world community. The leaders of China and India can only go to a solution to the problem with a neighbor that does not harm their image.
China does not need India as a result of this crisis to swing into close relations with the United States. It is in the common interest to compromisely resolve this situation in the most friendly manner possible, so that neither side looks winner or defeated.
There are differences and difficulties in Sino-Indian relations. But there is no predisposition that they should be adversaries. Today, the development of the global economic and political space largely depends on the relations between the PRC and the Republic of India. During his visit to New Delhi, PRC Premier Li Keqiang noted that the Asian Age will not come if China and India cannot develop harmoniously together.
There are two sides that are seeking to aggravate this conflict - Pakistan and, to an even greater extent, the United States. Pakistan sees in this conflict an opportunity to get unconditional and growing Chinese support, and the United States is a chance to draw India into its schemes against China.
The United States considers India to be a natural counterbalance to China’s growing influence in South Asia.
In this case, the logic of the unfolding global confrontation inexorably divorces Delhi and Beijing in different blocks. If relations between China and the United States have been steadily deteriorating for almost a decade, then in the relations between India and Washington a reverse process takes place. For example, the USA has already become a key supplier. weapons India
Beijing’s successes in the implementation of the One Belt, One Road Project pushed the United States to create hotbeds of tension in South Asia. India fit very well for this role, having unresolved border disputes with the PRC and a long history of rivalry. What did not fail to take advantage of the United States, actively engaging Delhi in the "anti-Chinese club." The provocations on the Doklam plateau were preceded by unprecedented Indian-American military contracts and the assignment of the status of "key defense partner" to India.
The American media have taken a pro-Indian stance in the conflict. China is accused not only of trying to annex foreign territories, but also of intent to invade the territory of neighboring states. “China’s actions are in line with its geopolitical ambitions - to gain access to the Indian Ocean,” says the American edition of Business Insider. Pumping up the situation, the American media, as per orders, write about the “Siliguri corridor” - a narrow strip of territory connecting the main territory of India with its northeastern states. According to publications, Beijing’s activity is allegedly linked to the intention to cut this corridor. And the American magazine "Foreign Policy" and at all headlined his article "Who will win in the great Chinese-Indian naval war 2020 of the year?"
These provocations are designed to drive a wedge into relations between neighboring countries and bury the integration processes on the Eurasian continent.
Against the background of the aggravation of relations between New Delhi and Beijing, the US naval forces, which, together with the naval forces of India and Japan, conducted maneuvers in the Bay of Bengal as part of the Malabar exercises, became more active. At the same time, there was a “information leak” (obviously deliberate) in the New York Times that maneuvers “should have an impact on China.”
In general, the United States practically does not even hide the fact that they are pouring oil on the flaming confrontation between India and China. Moreover, New Delhi is clearly promising support, and China is “pulling the mustache.” And such a policy can lead to unpredictable consequences. China and India are the owners of armies that are among the ten most powerful on the planet and have the latest types of weapons. Both sides have an impressive nuclear arsenal ...
The United States, being from a place of potential conflict for many thousands of kilometers, of course, feels completely safe, and therefore their position is completely irresponsible.
RUSSIA AND THE INDIAN-CHINESE CONFLICT
For whom conflict can become a real problem, this is for Russia: both of its parties are its most important economic, military and political partners.
Apart from the fact that Moscow will not be able to take a side in the conflict (which may cause offense both to Beijing and New Delhi), it can also lead to the collapse of international associations in which Russia plays a leading role.
Diplomatic opposition to provocations by the United States in the Indo-Butano-Chinese conflict can today become one of the main tactical directions of Russian foreign policy. And the most acceptable way to end the confrontation would be to consolidate the existing status quo in the region (recognition of the territories actually controlled by the South Asian states), associated with the creation of demilitarized areas.
Russia is interested in normal and constructive relations between China and India. “We share many approaches to the world political situation with Beijing and New Delhi and, of course, would not want to take a position of choice between them in the event of any conflict,” said Alexander Lukin, vice rector of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic academy.
Russia wants to have strategic relations with both China and India - and in the future, create the triangle Moscow – New Delhi – Beijing, which would determine the weather in Eurasia and in the world.
Despite the complexity of this problem, it can be solved. The three countries interact in the BRICS and SCO format, and Russia has experience of very good relations with both countries. New Delhi and Beijing trust Moscow - and that is why Russia can and should play to expand geopolitical cooperation between China and India, to reduce contradictions and resolve disputes, to reduce mutual claims. Three countries have the opportunity to build a sustainable overall security system in Asia that can solve many problems of the continent. In cooperation with Iran and connecting other Islamic countries, they will be able to ensure that neither the United States nor the United Kingdom can continue to play on the contradictions in the region.
But we need to start with resolving the disputes between China and India.
WAYS TO RESOLVE CONFLICT SITUATION
An accidental shot at the border can lead to an escalation of the conflict against the wishes of the parties. Especially to prevent this from happening, Indian and Chinese warlords hold cross-border meetings, which are hastily organized, even with a hint of a possible incident.
An important area is the possibility of exchanging young officers and conducting joint military exercises. According to the Indian leadership, this approach will help avoid distrust and errors in the calculations of both parties.
Indians show interest in Russian-Chinese experience in reducing tensions in the border area. In the first half of the 1990-s, Russia and China carried out a reduction of armaments and troops, created monitoring mechanisms. Then it was formalized in the 1997 agreement on the reduction of troops in the border area. Russia and other CIS countries have a successful experience of agreement with China, which has provided military confidence, which has fully worked, despite the legacy of the Cold War and armed clashes in 1969. This became possible thanks to a clear awareness of the new realities of world politics.
In general, there are many peaceful ways to resolve the conflict: declaring the territory of the Doklam Plateau a demilitarized zone and withdrawing all armed formations beyond its borders; the joint construction by China, India and Bhutan of a civil road on the territory of the Doklam Plateau, on which heavy armored vehicles cannot pass (limiting the load on bridges under construction, narrow spaces with sharp turns, etc.); the signing of a treaty on the prohibition of the use of the road to the Doklam plateau for military purposes, etc.
However, everything should be decided directly between the heads of China and India. Any other intervention by other countries with advice, mediation, etc. only harm the process of peaceful conflict resolution. It is necessary to take into account the mentality and ambitiousness of the leaders of the two countries, their desire to show their strength and power and unwillingness to show "weakness" in solving the problem, which could shake their international authority.
In this regard, Russia can provide a “platform” for resolving the conflict by inviting the leaders of China and India to meet on a “neutral” territory in Russia, for example, in Ufa, where the SCO and BRICS summits have already taken place, and where 27 – 29 of September 2017 was held small business regions of the countries - participants of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS.
And Beijing and New Delhi have a desire to find a solution to the existing problem. Most importantly, this decision should ensure that neither side feels defeated or losing. At the same time, we must not forget that the escalation of the conflict is primarily interested in the United States, which does not need strong China and India and who always and in everything act on the principle of "divide and rule". You need to be vigilant: provocateurs at the ready.