India and China: From rivalry to enmity

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If media reports on both sides of the Himalayas are any indication, China and India are literally standing on power kegs, ready to flex their military muscles at the slightest provocation from either side.

Often it is said that there is no historical enmity between the two countries but there is a long standing rivalry between the world’s two most populous countries.

Although the latest flash point was the Chinese attempt to construct a mountain road over Doklam plateau in western Bhutan which Bhutan protested and India intervened directly by sending troops, for quite some time, India and China have been eyeing each other warily.

The rivalry between India and China is rooted in their diverse geopolitics and intersecting economic interests or overlapping spheres of influence.

Geopolitical rivalry for influence and domination is intensifying between the two Asian giants in the post-Cold War era.

This contest for regional hegemony between China and India is now glaringly visible in many neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and now Bhutan.

The dispute over the demarcation of their common frontier in the Himalayan foothills, from Kashmir in the West to Arunachal Pradesh in the East is ostensibly a source of serious tension in its own right.

The simmering tension was there since the colonial era but it is not the primary cause of the new rivalry.

The principal factors for the new rivalry are the advancement in military technologies and growing spheres of economic influence.

As observed by the Global Affairs, the theoretical arc of operations of Chinese fighter jets at Tibetan airfields includes India. Indian space satellites are able to do surveillance on China.

In addition, India is able to send warships into the South China Sea, even as China helps develop state-of-the-art ports in the Indian Ocean.

With both China and India showing no intention to budge from their respective positions over the Doklam standoff, the rivalry between the two countries is fast taking the form of sworn enmity.

Any border skirmish at this point of time can lead to a full scale war.

Bhutan will be the first casualty and it can spread to Tibet, Ladakh (Kashmir), Arunachal Pradesh, the whole North East and the neighbouring provinces of China.

People of these regions have nothing to do with the rivalry or enmity between Beijing and New Delhi.

Yet, they are the ones who would suffer the biggest casualty in the event of a war.

Manipur has had a fair experience of the collateral damages done to her when imperial powers fought against each other on her soil during the Second World War.

But war can never be a solution to any problem in this age of nuclear weaponry.

If at all, a war breaks out, it may not be confined to a single front.

Even a war of limited period will do great harm to the economies of both the countries.

Border disputes are there everywhere across the world, between every two neighbouring countries.

It would be sheer political immaturity if such disputes are allowed to spark any full scale war.

Both China and India need to shed all hawkish policies, cast away domineering postures and adopt a win-win strategy of reconciliation.

We don’t think there would be any winner in the event of a war.

Source: The Sangai Express

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