Indian army must tone down hawkish rhetoric

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/16 23:13:41

Since the beginning of 2018, the Indian army has made harsh comments on China from time to time. Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat said last week that India needs to shift focus to the border with China. India's Eastern Command chief Lieutenant General Abhay Krishna said its army is very well prepared everywhere and gave a nationalistic description of an ordinary incident that happened recently on the border with China.

After the Doklam standoff, the Indian army has been active in border areas. It decided to enhance infrastructure along the border and will deploy helicopters in disputed border regions. In doing so, India has shown a keen interest in blocking China's infrastructure construction in the border area.

Meanwhile the Indian media has been magnifying everything obtained from the military, applauding hawkish army remarks and fabricating scenes of China infringing upon and provoking India. Yet all these reports are incongruent with the Indian external affairs ministry's judgment that the status quo prevailed on the border. 

Coordinated interactions between the Indian army and media have fed many Indians' negative impressions of China. This deviates far from the consensus reached by Chinese and Indian leaders that the two countries will properly manage their disputes and put bilateral ties back on the track of healthy and stable development.

In learning about China, Indian society has been misled by the military's selfish desire to enlarge its budget and gain bigger clout in the country's foreign relations, and its media's market orientation toward eye-catching reports. As a result, a hard-line approach to China is political correctness in India and the country is pushed to side with the US, Japan and Australia.

Rawat said last week that India can't allow its neighbors to drift away to China. This mentality that sees neighbors as an Indian domain is widely adopted in New Delhi. India is diplomatically immature, with a self-centered approach and preference for impulsive nationalism. Dealing with this country requires more than one set of rules.

On India, China needs to adhere to its principles and refrain from wrangling. It should handle border disputes in accordance with laws to maintain border peace, and meanwhile firmly hit back at Indian army provocations.

India and China share neighbors, and surely their influence will overlap in some areas. Beijing needs to communicate more with New Delhi to make the latter less anxious strategically. The two countries should make it their common goal to avoid strategic conflicts in the neighboring region.

India should realize that it can't build its exclusive domain or apply the Monroe Doctrine in South Asia. China should act to assuage India's vigilance against Beijing developing relations with South Asian nations. But India is in no position to ask China to stay away from South Asia.

The Indian army seems to have failed to learn its lesson from the Doklam standoff. If India continues making provocations, it should expect harsh punishment from the Chinese army.  Confronting China entails an unbearably high strategic cost for India. New Delhi should cherish the amicable policy adopted by Beijing.  

Newspaper headline: India must tone down hawkish rhetoric

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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