The idea for this article came to us when we saw a tweet from a prominent Indian TV anchor on Tuesday:
- “What adds to the strangeness of timing of #DBO incursions issue: Chinese premier Li expected to come to India next month”.
This anchor was referring to the situation on the China-India border in Ladakh, the region between Kashmir and Chinese-occupied Aksai Chin. A platoon of Chinese troops came across the border and established tents on the Indian side. They were supported by two helicopters; so this was a planned move.
This stunned Indian Government, perhaps more so because the media found out about it and reported it. So the Indian Government “raised the issue” with China. The Chinese were clear in their stand. They refused to accept that they were across Indian border and claimed the area was China’s.
The new Chinese premier is going to visit New Delhi next month presumably in connection with the new 5-point China-India friendship framework proposed by the new President Xi Jinping. So the Indian TV anchor wondered in her tweet, why would China launch this public incursion just a month ahead of Li’s visit to India. A sensible question, right?
Yes from an Indian perspective. And so descriptive of Indian thinking. Indian officials always try very hard to avoid giving any offense whatsoever ahead of a big visit or event. They call it making sure the atmosphere for the meeting is not “vitiated” in any way. That is why this prominent anchor wondered why China would vitiate the atmosphere for their premier’s visit.
Indians just don’t get the downside of appeasing so hard simply to create an atmosphere of apparent peace. These appeasers are always abused by the ones being appeased regardless of how strong (like China) or how weak (like NonPakistan) they might be. But then Indians have a 1,000 year history of appeasement, one that has gone deep into the Indian soul.
To explain why China felt free to launch an incursion & occupy strategic Indian land and why China usually behaves this way with India, we give two analogies which most Indians would understand quickly and instinctively:
- we recall a tale about a Pathan (Pashtun) who slapped his Indian wife when she wanted to talk about a marital dispute. To the Pathan husband, the slap was simply a statement of relative power between him and his wife; he loved her; but before the argument he wanted to set the ground rules. He was a husband and he would be a loving husband to the wife but she had to mind her level. After the slap, the husband hugged his wife and spoke sweet words of affection to show that he still loved her.
- remember the recent blockbuster film Dabhang? The hero Chulbul Pande, the dynamic strong police inspector played by Salman Khan, thoroughly beat up his step brother Makhichand Pandey in his usual manner of delivering justice. In a meeting with senior police officer, the hero is asked to publicly apologize to his step brother. He does so. As the step brother leaves the meeting with the step father, the hero slaps him again, even harder. When everyone is shocked, the hero again apologizes to the step brother. The message is clear to the step brother and to every one watching – that the hero will slap or beat up the step brother any time he thinks it is warranted and the step brother better watch his behavior.The apology afterwards is merely to restore the relationship.
This is exactly the message China has delivered to India BEFORE China’s prime minister steps on India’s soil. The message in the Chulbul Pande manner says China is the man, the elder authority; they retain the right to behave the way that fits their power & standing and India better learn to to behave.
India has shown it got the message. Their Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has declared publicly that this incident will not affect the Chinese visit and that they are determined to resolve the situation with amicable discussions in view of the friendship between China and India. India’s Foreign Minister was explicit in his public comments:
- “We shouldn’t destroy years of investment, years of contribution that we have made to this relationship because somewhere some little thing goes wrong. One little spot is acne which cannot force you to say that this is not a beautiful face… That acne can be addressed by simply applying an ointment,”
Actually, this is more like the Indian wife’s behavior with her Pathan husband above. The Chinese action is not an acne, which is a natural event. The Chinese action is a deliberate slap in the face. What do most Indian wives do when slapped by the husbands? They dismiss it and work even harder to restore their relationship with the husband. Many wives would even blame themselves for provoking the anger of their husband and the slap actually persuades them that they should try harder to build an amicable environment at home. Isn’t that how Indian MEA officials are behaving with the Chinese counterparts?
This is an old British lesson that dates back to their early days in India. The British knew that Indians cannot handle public embarrassment and will do anything to save face after an embarrassment. China has learned this lesson well. That is why China has always acted with manly contempt towards Indians and embarrassed them in public like in this week’s Ladakh intrusion. Indians are now preparing concessions to the Chinese to request them to leave Indian territory. In other words, Chinese will get at least a part of what they want for free and Indians will feel happy at the “success”.
So China behaved like Chulbul Pande and India is behaving like Makhi. Or worse, China is the husband with power and India is the wife who tries to maintain the relationship by giving in.
Is it clear now, Ms. prominent Indian TV anchor?
(DBO – tip of the red arrow ) [Road from DBO (at tip of red line) to Yarkant in Xinjiang]
Note: This incursion by China is not as trivial as it may sound, 50 troops 15km inside Indian territory. See the wikipedia maps above. Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) is a very strategic corner on the old road from Ladakh to Yarkant in Xinjiang and adjacent to the Chinese road leading to the Karakorum pass to NonPakisani-occupied Kashmir. The Indian air force landing base at DBO enables India to replenish troops at this site. Until now China felt it could seize it at any time. But with India fortifying its border and establishing tanks in high altitude mountain passes, Chinese supremacy was being threatened. Is that why China acted before the visit of the Chinese Premier to India? Did they want possession on the ground before any talks begin so that they can magnanimously offer to step back after getting India to stop its fortifications? That way, China gets what it wants and India can claim its passive approach works. We really feel sorry for the brave officers & soldiers of the Indian Army. What must they feel about the pathetic behavior of their civil officials to whom they report?
Editor’s PS: This week, the most favorite articles on this Blog are our three articles about China and the Ladakh area. This shows how informed and smart our readers are. These 3 articles are:
- Dr. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale – Is his ignorance symptomatic of Global Investors? – June 14, 2008
- State of the Art Defense – First you cry and them you gotta laugh – “Chindia” line of control – June 2
- Tajikistan Cedes Land to China – A Step Towards Af-Kash-Bet? – January 15, 2011
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