Southern Himalayas is not India’s backyard

By Yu Xihong Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/13 19:43:39

Recently, the Indian media constantly reported on the border standoff between China and India in the Doklam area, pressuring Bhutan and Nepal to take a stance favoring India. However, to the disappointment of the Indian media, the two countries did not act according to India's will but tried to keep a balanced and neutral position. The Indian media had to admit that many South Asian countries kept a similar neutral position.

The border standoff is an epitome of India's arbitrary acts in the southern Himalayas. For a long time, India has interfered, controlled or even annexed small South Asian sovereign countries such as Nepal and Bhutan under the guise of national security. It views the region as its backyard. With such an ill-fitting mentality, the Indian troops trespassed onto Chinese territory.

India had been under colonial rule for hundreds of years. But since India's independence in 1947, the international community has witnessed India behaved like a sheer colonist. India initiated the Non-Aligned Movement, but it has long violated the movement's principle of independence and non-alignment in South Asia.

For most countries outside the region, the geopolitical value of the southern Himalayas does not count for much. But the international community, especially the US-led West, should not let India's hegemonic acts go unchecked. When India arbitrarily annexed Sikkim in 1975, the international community chose to keep silent against the backdrop of the Washington-Moscow rivalry. If the global community continues to turn a blind eye to India's acts, Bhutan and Nepal could become the next victims.

The people of Nepal and Bhutan would be under more pressure if there wasn't a major power as responsible as China to counterbalance regional hegemony. The normal exchanges between China and sovereign countries in the southern Himalayas not only help China maintain its own interests, but also aim at maintaining international justice.

It is worth noting that China's investment in South Asia, including southern Himalayan countries, is based on mutual benefit and respect. Although India has offered aid to this region, it has attached too many selfish strategic conditions. China promotes economic mutual benefit, cultural exchanges and common development, while India adopts deterrence, interference or even annexation.

In recent years, South Asian countries have clearly felt China's goodwill. The acceptance of the Belt and Road initiative by all the South Asian countries except India has been proof. Even Bhutan, with which China has not established diplomatic ties, has already engaged in economic, cultural and religious communication with China. It has held 24 rounds of border negotiations with China despite pressure from India.

India should realize that the southern Himalayas is not its backyard but a common homeland of all regional countries. Only when India returns to a normal mentality and lives on friendly terms with China and its South Asian neighbors under the premise of respecting other countries' territorial integrity can it win security for itself. But if India holds on to a colonist mind-set and goes against the trend of peaceful development, it will face long-lasting strategic pressure.

The author is a research fellow at the Military Research Center of the College of Political Science, the PLA National Defense University. Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion


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