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The Indian EXPRESS


The Indian EXPRESS


IVING next door to China is not
easy. Like most of Chinas
neighbours, India too has
grappled hard to cope with Beijings
unpredictable behaviour. For decades
after the 1962 debacle, a closed group
of China experts handle this
relationship, keeping every detail
outside public domain and every move
a tightly-guarded secret. But from the
year 2004, the media turned its gaze at
this relationship. The Indian Express, in
particular, has traced and exposed the
problems with China, raised public
debate and yanked apart the veil of

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Chinas ties with others
must not hurt India, PM
tells Xi Jinping

n an obvious reference to the nature of Chinas
relationship with Pakistan and some of Indias
other neighbours, Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh is learnt to have told Chinas new President,
Xi Jinping, that its important for Beijing not to
allow its ties with other countries become an
impediment to advancing India-China relations.
Singh conveyed this to Xi in their first meeting
in Durban on Wednesday night even as they struck
a healthy rapport during the 45 minutes they
spent with each other. Sources, however, said
Singh did not make the point in a confronting
China and Pakistan recently signed an agree-
ment to build the Chashma-3 nuclear reactor

despite serious objections from the Nuclear Sup-
pliers Group. Many other countries such as Sri
Lanka, Nepal and Maldives have also been repeat-
edly playing the China card to threaten India.
Xi did not respond to Singhs comment but is
believed to have emphasised on deepening secu-
rity and military trust between India and China
by conducting more joint exercises and training,
while also looking to enhance maritime coopera-
The Chinese President, sources said, felt India
and China had a strategic opportunity now to
upgrade their military cooperation, a subject Bei-
jing has been pushing at the official level too.
Xi also proposed that the two countries jointly
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build high-speed railways in India given the giant
strides China has made in this area. He felt that
such efforts could pave the way for greater cooper-
ation in mega projects in the future. Railways is
one area which was identified in the India-China
economic dialogue as a potential area of coopera-
tion since it is state-owned in India as well.
The only concern that the Chinese side raised
was the Tibet issue, where Xi hoped India would
maintain its responsible position. Later, sources
said, the PM reaffirmed Indias stand, conveying
that the Tibet Autonomous Region was a part of
China and also reminded Xi of the measures India
took to ensure the Beijing Olympic Games torch
travelled peacefully through India.
Its learnt that both leaders touched upon the
border row but reposed faith in the Special Repre-
sentative (SR) Mechanism as the best way forward
with Xi hoping for a fair, reasonable and accept-
on the border.
While the Chinese side has not yet named the
SR on its side after Dai Bingguo relinquished office,
the responsibility is expected to fall on new State
Councillor and former foreign minister Yang Jiechi,
who was also part of Xis delegation at the talks.
Singh, sources said, managed to flag most of
Indias core concerns and specifically spoke about
trans-border rivers, where Xi did make the point
that China shares hydrological data with its neigh-
bours and promised to study the PMs proposal for
a joint mechanism.
The overall tenor of the conversation, sources
said, was constructive with Xi describing the two
countries as ancient civilizations with a prosper-
ous future. Singh felt both countries were moving
through a transformation, which provides oppor-
tunities for cooperation and its for the two gov-
ernments to make the best of it.
able outcome. They also took note of the fact that
both sides have maintained peace and tranquility
Published on March 30, 2013
7 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


Time for India to move beyond
managing China

HERES an unmistakable air of caution in
the Indian camp ahead of Prime Minister
Manmohan Singhs first meeting with new
Chinese President Xi Jinping, perhaps prompted by
the uncertainty that often grips Chinese behavior.
This is accentuated by the fact that Xi is riding the
back of a strong nationalist sentiment, which is
making conduct of every countrys China policy a
major challenge.
Yet, for India, its important to segregate the spe-
cific from the overall mood. Chinas national atten-
tion is focused to the East and on how it stands up
to the US. In many ways, this is a phase of aspira-
tional foreign policy for China one which is will-
ing to upset settled equations, terms and attitudes.
Two appointments signify this. One is the eleva-
tion of former foreign minister Yang Jiechi to the
position of state councillor. While most in India
remember him for pulling back from certain com-
mon interpretations of the 2005 India-China
boundary principles agreement, the fact is he is
Chinas long regarded US expert and is a sign of
what is on Beijings priority list.

focus. This is not to say India is not important but
its not in the same category, which is where
Indias best strategic opportunity with China lies
one that New Delhi needs to grab with both hands.
Now is the time to shun reticence and move
beyond the managing China approach as India
finds itself in a different situation compared to
some of Chinas other neighbours. Lets not forget
much of China was built due to Japanese invest-
ment and prowess.
At this point, Beijing is willing to do all it can to
accommodate New Delhi, be least provocative
and, in a way, manage India. The sudden eager-
ness to scale up military CBMs with India, and the
new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang including India in
his first two phone calls after taking charge are just
a few instances of this changing trend.
This is the time for India to shift gears, set the
agenda and not be tentative. But can Singh swim
against the tide to further a strategic goal in an
election year? The Chinese would assess he cant.
And thats the impression which needs to change
when Singh walks up to Xi on Holi night.
Yangs successor in the foreign office, Wang Yi,
is a Japan specialist, again emphasising the eastern
Published on March 27, 2013
8 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


Signals for hope in Asian meet

N diplomacy, signals are important this
appears to be Indias focus as Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh readies for his first meeting
with Chinese president Xi Jinping on the margins
of the BRICS Summit here Wednesday.
Singh confined his arrival remarks to the main
purpose of the visit: BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India,
China and South Africa) is a young grouping with a
lot of promise. I look forward to meeting all digni-
taries who are attending.
But establishing a personal chemistry with Xi is
high priority, with New Delhi keen on unclogging
differences that have historically dominated this
Xis memories of history may in fact, be differ-
ent. In 1962, the year India and China went to war,
Xis father, the veteran revolutionary Xi Zhongxun,
was purged by Mao Tse-Tung for lending support
to the publication of a book deemed critical of
him. Xi Jinping, all of nine then, saw his life change
dramatically as his father spent the next 16 years
in prison.
He struggled to become a CPC member, his
application being rejected nine times because of
his fathers problems, until finally gaining entry in
1974. After Maos death, Xis father was rehabili-
tated by Hu Yaobang, the mentor of Hu Jintao, Xis
predecessor. Then started the re-emergence of Xis
family in the CPC, as his father got inseparably
associated with Chinas economic liberalisation
and the creation of its SEZs a project Singh was to
initiate in India in the next decade.
If bonding at the highest level is seen to hold the

mier Wen Jiabao then the personal histories of
Singh and Xi, embedded in the economic transi-
tions of their countries, is of particular signifi-
And yet, the dynamics would have to be differ-
ent. Xi is a generation younger to Singh, and age
matters in Asian relationships. Also, New Delhi is
conscious about Xis close links with the Peoples
Liberation Army establishment.
These links took root between 1979 and 1982,
when Xi was personal secretary (mishu) to then
defence minister Geng Biao, also a friend of Xis
father. It is believed that Xis military associates
still remain his closest friends, with whom he likes
to spend time, and which possibly impacts his
But senior government sources emphasised Xi
has sought to send the right signals to India his
five-point formulation on relations and his letter to
Singh during the course of the political transition.
India will at some stage want a clearer enuncia-
tion of what Xi has in mind when he talks about
accommodating each others core interests. But
indications are it wont burden this conversation
with such issues unless they are vigorously
brought up by the Chinese side.
The focus is likely to be more on achieving com-
fort levels so that both leave the room on a hopeful
note. As a senior government source put it when
asked about the outcomes expected from the
meeting, We are not looking for outcomes. Thats
not the way we work. Its not Asian, just to look for
key to stability in the India-China relationship as
had been the case between Singh and former Pre-
Published on March 26, 2013
9 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


Beijings bear hug for Colombo:
Rajapaksa among Xis first 5 calls

HILE India-Sri Lanka ties hit another
low after New Delhis proactive efforts
to censure Colombo at the UN Human
Rights Council, Chinese President Xi Jinping ele-
vated the island nations profile by including Presi-
dent Mahinda Rajapaksa in the first list of five
phone calls he made after formally taking over
from Hu Jintao last week.
In fact, Xi spoke with Rajapaksa on March 16,
the same day he spoke to his Pakistani counterpart
Asif Ali Zardari, which signalled that Beijing had
put Colombo at par with Islamabad. This, sources
said, is a significant leap because Pakistan is con-
sidered an all-weather ally and to place Sri Lanka
in the same category clearly reflected the comfort
levels achieved in the relationship.
Xi made his first set of calls on March 14, and
predictably they were to the heads of three other

P5 countries where a president is the executive
head Barack Obama in the US, Vladimir Putin in
Russia and Frances Francois Hollande.
The next day, new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang
spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, indicating the
importance China attached to its relationship with
India. The premier is the counterpart for countries
where a PM is the executive head.
A day later, on March 16, Xi spoke to the presi-
dents of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Xi is said to have
assured Rajapaksa of full support in his efforts to
protect Sri Lankas sovereignty and territorial
integrity. There were indications of support at the
UN Human Rights Council even though China is
not a member this time. Pakistan, it may be noted,
voted against the resolution on Thursday.
Sino-Lankan ties have witnessed an upswing in
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recent years with China even launching Sri Lankas
first satellite last November. Similarly, defence ties
have been on the front-burner after Chinese
defence minister Liang Guanglies visit to Sri Lanka
last year. Both sides reached a comprehensive
agreement on training military personnel with the
Chinese defence establishment offering a range of
high-value courses besides upgrading counter-
insurgency training.
Beijing has also agreed to look positively at
Colombos request for high-end electronic com-
munication technology, particularly for purposes
of maritime security. Sources further revealed that
China has agreed to help significantly upgrade Sri
Lankan cyber-warfare capabilities, which is crucial
to Colombo to track and counter pro-LTTE ele-
ments abroad, who are largely dependent on the
cyber platform.
Besides, talks are on to provide maintenance
support to K-8, F-7 and Y-12 aircraft of the Sri
Lankan Air Force and upgradation of the Sri
Lankan Armys T-55 tanks. Defence, sources said, is
the new sector added to an already growing pres-
ence in key infrastructure areas such as ports.
These fast-paced developments have occurred
at a time India has focused its efforts to get the
Rajapaksa government to work for greater politi-
cal accommodation of the Tamil population. New
Delhi has been pressing Colombo to not turn the
defeat of the LTTE into a majority domination that
would make the ethnic Tamil population more
insecure. To this end, India has taken up humani-
tarian projects in Tamil-dominated areas.
Colombo has, however, not delivered on any key
Indian demand, which further worsened relations
that have now had ramifications in Tamil Nadus
politics. While Indian diplomats are against any
country-specific human rights resolution, sources
said the lack of cooperation from Sri Lanka, possi-
bly strengthened by the China relationship, has
reduced any scope of an understanding for the

Published on March 23. 2013
11 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


Defence Ministry clears
new corps on China border

FTER much back and forth, the Defence
Ministry has cleared setting up of a
mountain strike corps along the China
border, signalling its intent to press ahead with
plans to strengthen offensive military capabilities
despite recent calls from Beijing for a new type
of military relationship.
The plan involves fresh accretion of close to
89,000 soldiers and 400 officers.

additional Air Force elements. The projected
amount too has gone up marginally from the ear-
lier estimate of about Rs 65,000 crore.
The new strike corps is expected to come up in
Panagarh, West Bengal, along with two more divi-
sions. An independent armoured brigade along
with an artillery division may be part of the set-
up. Already, two divisions are being raised in the
eastern theatre.
The focus, sources said, is to be able
to launch a counter-offensive into
Tibet in case of a Kargil-type
adventure by China.
The proposal was first mooted in
2010 and given an in-principle go
ahead by the Cabinet Committee on
Security a year later, but was sent
back last year with instructions for
a re-look by all three services so
that a common plan could be drawn
89,000 soldiers, 400 officers
Panagarh, West Bengal, with two
more divisions
brigade, artillery division may be
part of the set-up
counter-offensive into Tibet in
case of a Kargil-type adventure
by China.
However, the road ahead will still
be difficult, particularly given the
strain on the Finance Ministry at
this point. While this is not going to
be a one-time expenditure, it does
fly in the face of North Blocks
efforts to effect expenditure cuts to
contain the growing fiscal deficit.
In its last version too, the pro-
posal had faced some tough ques-
tions from the Finance Ministry,
It took the Chiefs of Staff Committee another
six months to review the plan, which was also
essential because the Army Chief had changed
since the proposal was first moved.
Sources said the proposal has now been
reworked with some minor changes relating to
including a searching query on how long South
Block expected the China threat to last. As of now,
China has made some very conciliatory noises.
However, New Delhi believes that is because of its
preoccupation on the eastern front.

Published on February 4, 2013
Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


Chinas rise hasnt created
problems for India: Khurshid

HILE conceding that there are issues of
concern between India and China,
External Affairs Minister Salman Khur-
shid on Sunday observed that for India, on the
whole, Chinas rise has so far been peaceful, and
any differences are dealt with in a matter of fact
I am not going to judge how other neighbours
of China or other people who engage with China in
the Pacific or elsewhere see their relationship
evolving. I think our relationship has evolved
peacefully. It has evolved steadily. There hasnt
been any major specific problem between us and
China, he told The Indian Express on his way back
from Myanmar.
According to Khurshid, the structure of interac-
tion between both countries was developing in the
right direction and deepening that held the key for
a building trust in the relationship.
Some little thing said here and there is not
going to distract us from that purpose and that, I
think, is the same attitude that China has.
He went on to add that the new leadership in

the manner in which India and China continue to
deal with their problems did reflect high maturity
level. He emphasised that none of the difficult
issues have escalated beyond control.
Specifically on issues like the Chinese map on
the latest e-passports showing Arunachal Pradesh
as part of China, Khurshid said these issues were
being handled without any bitterness or causing
disruption of dialogue.
We have some issues on which periodically
they express, almost as though you want to keep
those issues on your agenda. Similarly for us, we
respond as well. Theres no hostility. Its very mat-
ter of fact. Its not done with any bitterness, hostili-
ty or aggression. Its like a conversation. You take
note of what you are saying and you flag and regis-
ter what the other person has said, and you leave it
at that and carry on.
In all, Khurshid assessed that both countries
were more than aware of their differences of the
past but had worked around and beyond those
differences while working in a satisfactory man-
ner to resolve those issues.
China had also placed a high priority on better
relations with India while making the point that
Published on December 17, 2012
13 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


India, China long way
from border solution

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon (4th in left row) leading the Indian side during the 14th round of border talks with State Councillor
Dai Bingguo, Chinas designated special representative for the boundary negotiations, in Beijing. PTI

JOINT status report of the 15 rounds of
special representatives talks to resolve
the vexed India-China boundary dispute
has concluded that both sides are far from their
goal despite some stated accomplishments.
A bigger concern that has emerged is that there
are serious differences in interpreting the 2005
agreement on the political parameters and guid-
ing principles for the settlement of the boundary
question, which is so far the most important
achievement of the three-stage process to arrive at
a political solution. Significantly, sources said,
these differences seem to wax and wane depend-

ing on the strategic climate at that point in time.
The proposal to prepare such a report card came
at the last round in January from Chinas Special
Representative (SR) Dai Bingguo, who has been
Beijings representative at all 15 rounds and is now
expected to relinquish this responsibility. The
speculation is that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi
might be elevated to a state councillor and take
this job up, but there is no information from Bei-
jing on this yet.
India agreed to the idea of the report, but the
process has been tough with Indias SR, National
Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, expected to
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hold last minute deliberations with Dai in Beijing
this week to bridge some gaps so that the two
interlocutors can, at least, present an agreed
report to their respective political leadership. Dai
and Menon had agreed that this exercise is impor-
tant to ensure continuity with the interlocutor to
be appointed by the new Chinese leadership.
However, the exercise has shown that differ-
ences dominate despite positive proclamations. To
begin with, the Chinese side has claimed close to
60,000 sq km in Arunachal Pradesh, which may be
lesser than its earlier claims but remains signifi-
cant and includes Tawang.
The Chinese side believes this is in tune with
Article III of the guiding principles, which states
that both sides will make meaningful and mutual-
ly acceptable adjustments to their respective posi-
tions on the boundary question, so as to arrive at a
package settlement to the boundary question.
The Indian understanding of meaningful
adjustments is, however, different and does not
involve large chunks of land. New Delhi believes
that adjustments would mean minor territorial
give-and-take in the border areas during the pro-
cess of demarcating a common line.
These extreme interpretations on both sides
have meant that Chinas emphasis on concessions
from India in the eastern sector has only increased
through the dialogue process, particularly in the
rounds after 2005. This is when the SRs started
working on a framework agreement - the second
stage of what is a three-stage settlement process.
to achieve this settlement has not been recognised
by the Chinese side in all these rounds. Instead,
China has thrown back the argument that Indian
concessions in this sector is a political pre-requi-
site for any leadership in Beijing, pointing to Arti-
cle V of the guiding principles that mentions tak-
ing into account national sentiments.
New Delhi too has its own set of arguments,
again based on the guiding principles, particularly
Article VII that says the two sides shall safeguard
due interests of their settled populations in the
border areas. India has interpreted to mean that
settled populations will not be disturbed, which
means Tawang and other populated areas of
Arunachal Pradesh will not be touched.
Beijing, however, contests this and makes the
point that safeguarding due interests of settled
population can be achieved alongside any shift in
territorial control. It argues that this principle does
not translate into recognising status quo in
Arunachal Pradesh.
As a result, the final nature of the agreed doc-
ument will probably not look to elaborate on the
interpretations of the guiding principles and
instead keep the claims separate from the 2005
agreement. This may reflect lesser progress, but
insiders feel it will not complicate future rounds
with any new interlocutor. Incidentally, the first
draft of the Chinese version of the joint report
was a complete articulation of only Beijings
position and since then, it has been an exercise
in calibration.
The political impossibility of any Indian govern-
ment giving up large territory in the eastern sector
Published on Decemeber 2, 2012
15 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


Poor military leadership, not
equipment, led to 1962 debacle:
Report under wraps

HERE is no reason why the Indian Army
cannot rise again and give a much better
account of itself. I hope when the day
comes, it happens under my escutcheon.
This was what Gen J N Chaudhuri wrote in a 40-
page covering note while forwarding the Hender-
son Brooks-PS Bhagat report on the 1962 military
debacle to the Defence Ministry.
Fifty years after the Sino-Indian war, the Hen-
derson Brooks-Bhagat report remains under
wraps but
The Sunday Express has learnt that around four
pages of this covering note focus on wartime
Defence Minister V K Krishna Menons interfer-
ence in military matters, particularly on the shuf-
fling of senior generals in the run-up to the
month-long war.
The covering note, according to sources aware
of the contents of the report, is the only place

where there is a comment on the political leader-
ship of the Defence Ministry. There is no direct
comment on then Prime Minister Jawaharlal
Nehru anywhere in the letter or in the report,
which confines itself to the conduct of military
The important revelatory aspect of the Brooks-
Bhagat report is its conclusion that shortages in
ammunition and equipment were not among the
primary reasons for the defeat.
In fact, the report, sources said, makes it clear
that much has been stated about the poor quali-
ty of equipment and weapons making the Army
unfit for battle. The authors have put on record
that in their considered view the levels of stores
and equipment didnt constitute a significant
handicap. Instead, they have identified poor mil-
itary leadership as the main reason for the Army
not having fought better than it did.
Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS

The report is in four volumes, but its main
operative content is less than 150 pages, typed
single space in foolscap paper with corrections
made by hand in ink. The rest of the report com-
prises essentially annexures, minutes of meet-
ings, operational maps and key pieces of commu-
The report was commissioned by Gen Chaud-
huri, who took over as Army Chief after the war, as
an internal Army report to look into just the con-
duct of military operations since hostilities began
in early October 1962 till November 20 when Chi-
na announced a unilateral ceasefire.
For the job, he picked Lt Gen Henderson Brooks
who was GOC 11 Corps in Jalandhar and had not
participated in the operations. The report was
submitted in April 1963 and sent to the Defence
Ministry with Chaudhuris detailed covering note.
The language of the report reflects the strong
emotional fervour of the moment, especially the
anger and frustration. Coming down heavily on
the military leadership, the report is particularly
critical of the then Chief of General Staff Lt Gen B
M Kaul, who was made GOC of the newly created
4 Corps just before the war. He was based out of
Tezpur, but was evacuated to Delhi on account of
illness just as hostilities broke out in what was
then called NEFA.
The report records him dashing in and out of
his York Road (now Motilal Nehru Marg) resi-
dence, issuing orders from his bed, and the top
brass letting him do so instead of finding a succes-
sor. These have all been cited as examples of poor
Similarly, a copy Kauls letter to Nehru at the
height of the conflict, urging him to approach the
Americans for assistance, has been mentioned
and included in the annexures to underscore the
loss of nerves among senior officers.
Significant space, sources said, has been given
to the retreat of 4 Infantry Division which had
been quickly reconstructed after the Namka Chu
defeat and posted to defend the fallback line
along the Se La-Senge-Dhirang axis in Arunachal
Pradesh. This was after Tawang had been overrun
by advancing Chinese forces. It was decided that
this axis is where the Army would fight a dogged
and prolonged defensive battle for which
resources and logistics had been built up. The idea
was that longer the campaign stretched, the more
difficult it would get for the Chinese to sustain
But 4 Div withdrew without fighting, a fact that
is officially confirmed and documented in the
report. This entire episode of the collapse and
rout of the 4 Infantry Division has been
described in the report as a shameful incident of
a renowned division collapsing and retreating
without putting up a fight.
The GOC of the Division, Maj Gen Anant Singh
Pathania, has been severely criticised and shown
up as another example of poor generalship. The
loss of nerves among key military commanders is
again emphasised by citing an inland letter that
Pathania wrote to Harish Sarin, Joint Secretary in
Defence Ministry. He asked Sarin to give him
another chance, volunteering to be even deployed
as a sepoy at the front.
Pathanias appointment itself has been com-
mented upon as an example of poor decision-
making by the military hierarchy. He was pulled
out as Director General, National Cadet Corps and
foisted on the 4 Infantry Division as the GOC,
which the Brooks-Bhagat report criticised given
that he had not been involved with combat troops
for a considerable length of time. The report,
sources said, is also critical of his predecessor Maj
Gen Niranjan Prasad under whom the Division
lost at Namka Chu.
The report highlights indecision at Army Head-
quarters and how field formations would faced
problems getting clear orders or clarifications
from the top brass in Delhi. In this context, West-
ern Army Commander Lt Gen Daulet Singh, who
was responsible for the campaign in Ladakh, has
come in for praise. In fact, the report firmly con-
cludes that the campaign in the western sector of
the boundary was conducted far better than the
eastern theatre.
The specific instance about Lt Gen Singh relates
17 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS

to his decision to move two battalions deployed
on the Indo-Pak western front to the site of battle
in the north. The report, sources said, recounts
how Singh kept writing to Army Headquarters to
seek approval to move troops from the Pakistan
border but received no response.
Finally, he took the initiative and moved the
battalions on his own to Chushul. This has been
highlighted by Brooks-Bhagat as a rare example of
better military leadership.
To an extent, the report also clarifies the
famously known orders from the government
and place of Armys choosing . The report, how-
ever, does not get into the events of previous
months leading up to the conflict, especially
aspects like the much criticised forward policy
that led to creation of several frontline posts
without the logistics to sustain them an act
deemed provocative by the Chinese.
Besides these details, the report reflects the
pain over the loss of thousands of soldiers; and
ends on a very sombre note, quoting a few lines
from a poem by First World War soldier-poet Wil-
fred Owen lines which no one is able to recall.
asking the Army to throw out the Chinese by
also putting on record the second line at a time
Published on Oct 14, 2012

Ops in North were
better than East

The operative portion of the report is less
than 150 pages. It concludes with lines from
World War I English soldier-poet Wilfred

The report says levels of stores and
equipment did not constitute a significant
handicap. Poor military leadership was the
main cause for the debacle.

The campaign in the north under Western
Command was better conducted than
operations in the east.

4 Infantry Division retreated without putting
up a fight. Maj Gen A S Pathania wanted a
second chance to fight as a sepoy after
withdrawing his division in panic.

4 Corps Commander Lt Gen B M Kaul
criticised for his poor command.

Western Army Commander Lt Gen Daulet
Singh praised for showing better initiative.
Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


Chinas diplomatic offensive

AS Chinese Defence Minister Liang
Guanglies India visit part of an orches-
trated diplomatic effort? So it would
seem if one were to consider that in the past two
weeks, Beijing has dispatched three military dele-
gations in different directions first one led by
PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff Cai Yingting to
the US, another by Deputy Chief Ma Xiaotian to
Vietnam and thirdly the Defence Minister himself
to India, Sri Lanka and Laos.
This vigorous bout of typical Chinese military
diplomacy comes in the backdrop of Beijings ten-
sions with its eastern neighbourhood and an
intense domestic political makeover, all so intrin-
sically linked and feeding off each other that
decoding the real message is a challenge in itself.
Take Indias case for at least four years, the
Indian side has been pursuing the little matter of a
reciprocal visit by the Chinese Defence Minister
after Pranab Mukherjee travelled there in 2006.
No response. The little matter then became a sub-
ject of interest, raising doubts in New Delhi, and
finally turned into a full-blown bilateral issue after
China insisted on a stapled visa for the Northern
Army commander. The military relationship was

ing a new chapter in India-China military rela-
tions. Beijing has fluctuated, at times swung from
one extreme to the other, enforcing that theres
more than what meets the eye.
China has Japan terribly worried over the
Senkaku Islands, it has South East Asia in panic
over its claims in the South China Sea. Its seen as
having driven a wedge through the tensile ASEAN
fabric, so much so that for the first time in its oth-
erwise reputable history of consensus, the group-
ing could not stitch up a joint declaration at its
summit meet.
India is the one neighbour to the south with
which, despite the range of inflammable sub-
stances in the bilateral basket, Chinas tensions are
still relatively low. China has taken a call to keep it
that way. The disputed border is still a tranquil
In the case of Cai and Ma, it was a question for
China of managing divergences while reinforcing
the hard message that an already unstable equi-
librium can be further disturbed. Liangs visit to
India, on the other hand, underlined a conver-
gence of views, a mutual interest in strengthening
the status quo.
headed south as India put all interactions on hold.
But today, in matter of a year or so, all are toast-
Published on September 12, 2012
19 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


RAW Beijing chief
dismissed for impropriety

HE Beijing station chief of RAW, the coun-
trys premier external intelligence agency,
has been summarily dismissed on grounds
of alleged operational impropriety.
Amreet Ahluwalia, a joint secretary-level offi-
cer, was recently called to Delhi for routine con-
sultations and then swiftly served the dismissal
order under relevant sections of Article 311 (2),
which allows such action without an inquiry for
purposes of national security. He will receive no
pension or post-retirement benefits.
The last time RAW (Research & Analysis Wing)
invoked this article was to dismiss Rabinder
Singh, a JS-level official who had defected to the
United States from the agency. He had been under
surveillance for spying for foreign countries.
While unwilling to part with details in
Ahluwalias case, RAW maintained that charges
against Ahluwalia were serious and related to
impropriety in conduct of operations. Sources
said the nature of the dismissal itself indicates
the seriousness of the charge.
While he could not be contacted, the sketchy
details so far indicate that the Beijing station

ing his posting.
At one stage, Ahluwalia is alleged to have
threatened to send letters to the political leader-
ship as well as the Opposition, listing his objec-
tions. He is believed to have shared the drafts of
these purported letters with his official hierar-
chy, leading to further discord.
The fact that a senior officer like Ahluwalia
was considering putting out operational details
perhaps served as a provocation. Insiders say he
had similar problems during his earlier assign-
ment in the US, sometime during 2004-07. At
that time too, he had run-ins with the agency on
certain sensitive issues. However, these were
eventually brushed aside as he completed his
Given his profile and postings the US and
China being his last two foreign assignments
Ahluwalia was clearly among the upcoming offi-
cers in the agency. After his US posting, he had
done a stint in Delhi and was later sent to an
important outpost in Jammu and Kashmir upon
his promotion as joint secretary. Soon after, he
was posted as station chief in Beijing.
chief had developed serious differences with
the headquarters over operational issues dur-
Published on August 6, 2012
Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


China puts Indian
oil block up for auction

RAWING India into the South China Sea
muddle, China has put up a Vietnamese
petroleum block under exploration by an
Indian oil firm for global bidding.
While the move was meant to counter a Hanoi
legislation asserting the countrys control over off-
shore areas and islands, which Beijing considers
disputed, it has put Delhi in a spot as Vietnam is
now keen that India does not vacate this block.
As a result, New Delhi for the first time went
beyond its usual call for freedom of navigation in
South China Sea at last weeks ASEAN Regional
Forum meet in Cambodia and added the demand
for access to resources in accordance with princi-
ples of international law. This shift in stand,
sources said, was largely provoked by the Chinese
decision to bid out a block already given to India.
The block numbered 128, which has been con-
tracted to ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), was part of the
nine petroleum blocks that were placed for global
bidding by China Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC)
last month. Over the past few weeks, the blocks put
up for bidding were compared to existing blocks
already given out by Vietnam in the same area.
The results, which have now also been confirmed
by reputed energy-specific publication Platts, show
that a substantive part of block 128 is also covered
by the grid of blocks put up for offer by CNOOC.
Vietnam had reacted sharply stating that all
these blocks fall in its Exclusive Economic Zone and
are in accordance with the United Nations Conven-
tion on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS).
Incidentally, OVL had decided to exit this block a
couple of months ago because it had failed to start
drilling activity as per the timeline worked out in
the original contract. On its part, OVL maintained
that its surveys had not shown much promise for
any big finds.

ration. But as that would be against the contract, the
company had decided to exit without much delay.
OVL had earlier returned the adjoining block 127 on
the same grounds.
Soon after, sources said, Petrovietnam had
approached OVL with fresh terms and conditions,
which allowed OVL two more years for exploration.
The offer, which is still under discussions, is said to
be attractive and OVL is said to be inclined to extend
its exploration activity in block 128.
New Delhi has a crucial decision ahead seeking to
achieve a diplomatic position on the issue. Chinese
assertiveness and clout, sources said, was visible at
the ASEAN and ARF meets in Phnom Penh last
For the first time, ASEAN could not come out
with a joint communique because the member
countries failed to reconcile on the mention of Chi-
nese claims in South China Sea. China is learnt to
have leaned heavily on Cambodia, the host and
chair of the meet this year, to take the line that these
were bilateral issues of individual countries which
should not be part of multilateral discussions.
In the ARF too, which comprises partner coun-
tries of the ASEAN like India, US, China and Euro-
pean Union among others, Pakistan went along
with China and said these were historical claims
that ought to be decided bilaterally and not be sub-
jugated to the international law of sea. The western
countries contested this, leading to wider disagree-
India, which usually takes a nuanced line, was
slightly more vocal this time: We have been fol-
lowing developments in respect to the South China
Sea. As we had stated earlier, India supports free-
dom of navigation and access to resources in accor-
dance with principles of international law. These
principles should be respected by all.
The preference, at that time, was to wait a little
longer as timeframe is crucial in petroleum explo-
Published on J uly 17, 2012
21 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


Will China threat last 2 yrs?
FinMin stalls military expansion

HE second phase of the governments ambi-
tious military expansion plan worth Rs
65,000 crore has run into rough weather.
The finance ministry has red-flagged the plan with
detailed queries and sent it back to the defence
ministry with a bizarre question: will the Chinese
threat last more than two years?
While responses have been prepared explaining
the impossibility of ascribing a time period to the
threat or even speculating on what the situation
will be two years from now, sources said, the polit-
ical understanding is that the finance ministry is
probably not keen to clear such a high-cost plan
this financial year.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given in-
principle clearance last year to a five-year expan-
sion plan, which involves fresh accretion of 89,000
troops with 400 officers one of Indias biggest
one-time military expansion efforts.

divisions. An independent armoured brigade
along with an artillery division will be part of the
set-up. These plans were fast tracked after the
Army conveyed to the PM that according to avail-
able intelligence, China has been rehearsing mili-
tary action during a limited local offensive.
It was in this context that the proposal for a new
mountain strike corps, pending for over a year
with the defence ministry, suddenly acquired
momentum with the PMO promptly clearing it.
Sources said the finance ministry has also
blocked the second stage of expansion of Indias
first Navy-only bases, INS Kadamba in Karwar
along the Karnataka coast. This Rs 13,000-crore
plan involves creating more than a dozen piers and
more berths which will host, among other ships,
Indias next aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, bet-
ter known as Admiral Gorshkov, which is now
being refurbished in Russia.
The plan includes setting up a new strike corps
in Panagarh, West Bengal, along with two more
Published on J anuary 11, 2012
Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


Growing up on China

HE surprise deferment of India-China
boundary talks at the eleventh hour was
not a desirable outcome for India. This was
just not the time to add an acrimonious episode
to an already sensitive relationship. This conver-
sation was going to be the last round under the
current Chinese political leadership and also for
Dai Bingguo, Chinas designated special repre-
sentative (SR) for the past eight years since this
mechanism was set up.
Both sides had agreed to end the year on a pos-
itive note way back in April when Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen
Jiabao ironed out differences to reset the defence
relationship in Sanya on the margins of the BRICS
(Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)
summit. They had also decided to set up a new
boundary mechanism to keep New Delhi and Bei-
jing in direct touch on incidents occurring on the
Line of Actual Control. It was felt that this mecha-
nism could also explore cooperative ventures in
border areas once it settled down.
Even more undesirable was the second out-
come a controversial backdrop to an ambitious
second track effort of organising a Global Bud-
dhist Congregation. It was ambitious because, for
the first time, all major countries with significant
Buddhist populations were being brought on a
common platform to create a united body. This
accounted for most of Chinas neighbours.
The congregation brought them to share the
stage with the Dalai Lama, who had only a couple
of months ago irked Beijing by stating that his
reincarnation can manifest by emanation. Essen-
tially, he affirmed that he can appoint his succes-
sor in his lifetime. The meet was also happening
at a time when there were reports of heightened
protests and immolations in Tibet.
If the SR-level talks and the agreement on a
new boundary mechanism were another impor-
tant baby step towards involving China in a net-

work of engagement processes, the congregation
was a mindset leap to leverage Indias Buddhist
cultural appeal by taking the lead in uniting dif-
ferent strands of Buddhism. It was exactly the
type of exercise that China would resent, but not
the kind it could object to because of its religious
nature until, of course, someone failed to
notice that the dates of the conference coincided
with the boundary talks.
This was an expensive mistake. The overlap
gave Beijing an opportunity to object to the con-
ference, emphasise on its political overtones by
highlighting the Dalai Lamas involvement and
then forcing India to lower the profile of the
event by getting its political and official class to
stay away from the congregation. And finally,
China did not budge an inch from its stand, leav-
ing India with no option but to call off the bound-
ary talks.
India lost on both counts. On the one hand, the
delicate, carefully calibrated and always evolving
engagement strategy suffered a needless setback,
while on the other, a rare attempt to leverage
Indias soft power in Chinas sensitive underbelly
stood exposed and almost neutralised.
To make matters worse, an amateurish
behind-the-scenes effort to paint China in a poor
light through the media provided Beijing with
the opportunity to make its first on-the-record
objection to the Dalai Lamas scheduled address
at the Buddhist congregation. While other official
channels are now working overtime to limit the
damage, this entire episode does call for some
serious reflection.
Yes, a positive outcome to the boundary talks
would have suited China because it would stand
in contrast to the chorus of concern against Chi-
nese aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea
and East Asia; but it would also have served
Indias interest. With a lot of ground to cover,
India needs time long quiet spells so that it
23 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS

can prepare and strengthen its capabilities to
enable a more equal conversation with China.
Until then, it has to manage a very delicate
engagement process that aims to convey a pic-
ture of trust-building and political maturity
between two emerging powers. A successful
round of SR-talks would have helped cement the
projection that the LAC can be sustained as one of
the most peaceful unsettled borders in the world.
India also needs to understand that there is
nothing new any longer about Beijings excessive
sensitivity towards the Dalai Lama and the Tibet
issue, or for that matter his religious importance
in the Buddhist world. After all, that is the crux of
all international normative criticism against Bei-
jing persecution of religious minorities, partic-
ularly Buddhists in Tibet.
In other words, New Delhi needs to change its
enjoys a certain diplomatic advantage in the
Tibet issue, but it still cannot afford to overstate
it. More so, there is not much to achieve through
direct confrontation on this issue.
While India gradually builds on its capacities
to compete with China, it is imperative for those
running the China policy to function with greater
purpose and coordination. The cancellation of
the boundary talks was an avoidable diplomatic
incident even though South Block wants to por-
tray it as a shining example of Indian assertion
against Chinas unacceptable demands.
Dealing, managing and engaging with China is
the most important strategic question for New
Delhi today and, therefore, the margin of error
has to be minimal. In sum, the time has come to
inject more maturity at all levels on China so that
such conflicts can be better anticipated in future.
approach and deny Beijing, as far as possible, the
opportunity to target the Dalai Lama. India
Published on November 30, 2011
Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


Talks glitch: dates mix-up, quiet
moves that China got wind of

HE India-China boundary talks were called
off after Beijing asked New Delhi to defer a
Buddhist congregation where the Dalai
Lama was to deliver the valedictory address next
Wednesday. This, sources said, was also provoked
by a covert Indian effort to get Buddhist delegates
from China to attend this meet.
The narrative, however, is a bit more complicat-
ed. It started with a clash of dates that no one on
the Indian side seemed to have noticed, and ended
with the sudden calling-off yesterday of a sched-
uled two-day conversation between Indian and
Chinese special representatives (SRs) on the
boundary question.
The talks were known to have been scheduled
for November 28-29, though no dates were for-
mally announced. These dates overlapped with
the November 27-30 Global Buddhist Congrega-
tion, organised by the Delhi-based Asoka Mission
to commemorate 2,600 years of The Buddhas
enlightenment. The four-day event is scheduled to
be inaugurated at The Ashok hotel in Delhi.
While the Asoka Mission is a well known entity,
the congregation also enjoyed tacit government
support with diplomats and intelligence offi-
cials involved in its planning, it is reliably learnt.
The idea was to turn the congregation into a
major symbolic event, bringing three strands of
Buddhism Theravada, Bodhisattvayana and
Vajrayana together for the first time, and getting
them to come out with a common declaration on
religious issues, and a common Buddhist response
to politics, society, conflict and violence. The aim
was to announce the creation of a unified Buddhist
body at the end of the conference.
Uniting the three strands would in effect mean
bringing prominent Buddhists from a range of
countries like India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Malaysia,
Mongolia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Bhutan,
Laos and Cambodia on a common platform. It was

also decided to reach out to Buddhists in China
and the Asoka Mission sent out invitations to 35
Chinese delegates. Their participation was not
confirmed, but the understanding was that visas
would be granted to them on production of the
invitation letter.
The organisers are bearing the travel, stay and
related expenses for all 500 delegates. Some 300
observers too have been invited.
Where India miscalculated, it seems, was in
assuming that all of this could be achieved with-
out the Chinese government coming to know of
this quiet effort. As it happened, not only did this
ring alarm bells in the Chinese system, but it also
suddenly brought the event under Beijings gaze.
The first aspect to strike Beijing were the
dates, which coincided with the SR-level talks on
November 28-29. Second, the Dalai Lama was to
deliver the valedictory address. Third, the organ-
isers had claimed that the Indian President
would inaugurate the congregation, and that the
Prime Minister too may be present. Fourth, it
would bring together Buddhist delegates from
Chinas neighbouring countries, put them on a
common platform with the Dalai Lama, and get
them all to plant saplings in a show of solidarity
along with a common declaration.
All of this was too much for Beijing to digest. It
made its first demand about 10 days back, asking
India to keep the Dalai Lama out of this confer-
ence. New Delhi responded that the government
had nothing to do with a private enterprise.
Beijing pointed to claims by the organisers that
the President and the PM may be present.
By now, South Block was worried. So, after
internal consultations, the Chinese were assured
that President and the Prime Minister would not
be there. Initial plans to have the Dalai Lama at
the inaugural dinner were scrapped. India also
assured China that no Indian leader would share
25 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


the platform with the Dalai Lama.
In consequence, the Dalai Lama was to reach
Delhi on November 29, but attend no public
function on that day. In trying to somehow sal-
vage the situation, the Indian side pointed out
that any public utterance by the Dalai Lama
would come after the boundary talks had con-
cluded. The government also assured adequate
security arrangements in case the Chinese side
feared protests.
At this point, China raised the stakes and said
it would agree to nothing less than the congrega-
nese obduracy. With ministers and officials of
nearly half a dozen countries having already
confirmed participation for the congregation,
and given the scale and purpose of the event,
New Delhi just could not concede to Beijing.
It is reliably learnt that there was considerable
consternation in South Block over why this
scheduling overlap could not be avoided. But in
the end, it was decided to take the line that a
democratic government cannot influence the
date and timing of such private events. On this
note, India called off the talks.
tion being called off. It was clear that the Dalai
Lama was not the principal reason for the Chi-
Published on November 27, 2011


China now rehearses capture
of Tibet passes

YEAR after conducting its first live military
exercise in Tibet, China has for the first
time rehearsed capture of mountain passes
at heights beyond 5,000 metres with the help of
armoured vehicles and airborne troops.
The Chinese Defence Ministry makes this claim
in a short official report that describes the exercise
as the first joint actual-troop drill of the PLA air
and ground troops under information-based con-
ditions in frigid area with a high altitude. The
joint drill involved the Chinese Air Force, ground
troops, armoured columns and a range of support
Unusually for China, the report carried a
detailed description of the exercise. At the very
beginning... the new type warplanes of the PLA Air
Force conducted accurate strikes at the targets....
Shortly after seizing the commanding point,
the long-range guns launched full-scale shoot-

This was followed by the armoured vehicle
group and infantry combat vehicles branching out
into columns and launching a sudden and violent
attack on the mountain passes occupied by the
enemy. The special operation detachment out-
flanked the enemy and raided the enemys com-
mand post. Army aviation troops and anti-aircraft
missiles, the report stated, provided cover.
Subsequently, the PLA report claims, after
reaching a mountain pass at a height over 5,000
metres, the armoured vehicle group and the
infantry combat vehicles broke through the inter-
diction barrage of the enemy in succession.
In a simultaneous effort, another mountain pass
at a height of more than 5,000 metres but located
hundreds of kilometres away was taken over.
Conducting military operations on plateau
with an elevation of more than 4,500 meters is an
extreme challenge, the report said.
ing at the command post and the artillery position
of the enemy.
Published on November 20, 2011
Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


China flexing muscles, govt clears
Brahmos for Arunachal

RESSING ahead with the second phase of
military expansion along the China front,
the government has given the go-ahead to
deployment of Brahmos cruise missiles in
Arunachal Pradesh. This will be Indias first offen-
sive tactical missile deployment against China,
sources said.
The three Brahmos missile regiments raised so
far have been deployed in the western sector to
counter the Pakistan threat. This will be the fourth
With a range of 290 km, these cruise missiles
are being deployed to improve Indias military
reach into the Tibet Autonomous Region and
counter Chinas elaborate missile deployment
along the Sino-Indian border.
This, sources said, dovetails with Indias second
expansion plan but is being fast-tracked because
of urgency shown by the armed forces.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also
cleared the five-year expansion plan for which he
had given the green signal earlier. The plan
involves fresh accretion of 89,000 troops, with 400

This is estimated to cost over Rs 65,000 crore,
making it one of Indias biggest one-time military
expansion effort. The proposal is now with the
Finance Ministry, and will be put up before the
Cabinet Committee on Security.
Linked to this, the CCS has decided to focus on
security of Indian islands with the larger view of
securing maritime routes criss-crossing the Indian
Two Army brigades are also being lined up for
the Andamans while a battalion-strength pres-
ence is being considered for Lakshadweep along-
side the Navy. Air Force assets are also being
increased in these island territories, the sources
The second Army expansion on the China bor-
der will include setting up a corps headquarter in
Panagarh, West Bengal, along with two more divi-
sions. An independent armoured brigade along
with an artillery division will be part of the set-up.

Published on October 17, 2011
27 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


Delhis hotline to Beijing waits for
room in PMO, tech upgrade to
match the Chinese

ORE than two years after it was agreed
upon at the highest level, India and Chi-
na have not been able to establish a hot-
line at the Prime Ministers level because the Indi-
an side is yet to come up with suitable encryption
technology. The Chinese side has not only finished
preparations but has also delivered its decryption
equipment here to be installed at the Prime Minis-
ters Office. The uninstalled Chinese equipment
has been lying idle for at least three months now,
also because the PMO has still not designated a
location for the hotline.
The decision on setting up a hotline was taken
in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg at a meeting
between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and
Chinese President Hu Jintao on the margins of the
2009 BRIC summit. At that time, the idea was to
set it up within a month. But technical negotia-
tions carried on and a formal pact was signed by
the two Foreign Ministers last April.
There will be two hotlines one set up by India
and the other by China. If New Delhi were to initi-
ate a call, the Indian hotline would be used and if
Beijing were to make the call, the Chinese line
would be operational. Both sides were to use their
own encryption and decryption technology to
secure their respective lines.
China, which has such hotlines with other coun-

sary equipment, including those required for
encryption, were installed at the Beijing-end and
the decryption equipment was brought to Delhi.
Chinese engineers have handed it over with all
necessary instructions to their Indian counterparts.
While all went smoothly on the Chinese side,
India realised it would need a qualitatively higher
grade encryption-decryption technology for a hot-
line with Beijing. Until now, sources said, the only
hotline at the PM-level is with Russia and the tech-
nology used is a decade-old and outdated.
So, a call was taken to develop indigenous tech-
nology and the task was given to the Defence
Research Development Organisation. A few weeks
ago, sources said, the DRDO conveyed that it has
come up with some equipment and is ready to
offer it for inspection and trial.
While this delay has carried on, the PMO is yet
to allot a room for the hotline to be installed. This
flows from a decision that the China hotline will be
put up in a separate room and not in the PMs
office. A room, sources said, was designated but as
matters dragged, the room was taken away and
allotted for some other purpose.
The committee, which was set up to opera-
tionalise this hotline, finally asked the PMO last
month to find a place for the hotline so that at least
the Chinese line could be made operational.
tries, was quick off the block and set up its line
within months after the formal agreement. Neces-
Published on October 16, 2011
Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS

India-China border: Joint
mechanism on cards
In a far reaching move aimed at increasing trust
along the disputed India-China boundary, the Cab-
inet Committee on Security (CCS) has given its go
ahead to set up a new joint mechanism on bound-
ary consultations with China. With all relevant
ministries on board, formal negotiations will now
begin with Beijing to sew up an agreement.
From what has been approved by the CCS
recently, the joint mechanism will have members
from different ministries such as Defence and
Home, besides representatives of intelligence
agencies and the military. It will be headed by
Joint Secretary in-charge of East Asia in the Min-
istry of External Affairs, who will be in touch on
real-time basis with his Chinese counterpart.
Interestingly, the Chinese side is learnt to have
indicated that instead of the South Asia division,
the Director General in-charge of the recently cre-
ated department of boundary affairs in their Min-
istry of Foreign Affairs will head the mechanism
from their end. A lot of the issues emerging out of
different perceptions of the LAC will now be dealt
through this mechanism.
To this end, the final agreement will go into
specifics of how this mechanism will function on a
routine basis, its definition and scope in terms tak-
ing spot decisions.
India and China had reached an in-principle
understanding during Prime Minister Manmohan
Singhs visit to Sanya in April for setting up such a
group. However, both sides had to work out the
details internally before starting negotiations. The
idea was first mooted by Chinese Premier Wen
Jiabao when he visit India last December.
Unlike previous efforts, sources said, this mech-
anism will look to frame an agenda beyond just
ments in 1993 and then the one in 1996 on confi-
dence building measures in the military field. This
group will look at ways to ensure that differences
over the boundary do not become an obstacle to
practical cooperation. However, sources clarified,
it will build on existing structures of border inter-
action and not replace them.
While giving clearance for setting up such a
mechanism, the CCS was informed that the group
will be the first of its kind to ensure immediate
contact between Delhi and Beijing in case of a
transgression or intrusion like incident on the
boundary before the event can create any local
Though there are mechanisms in place for local
commanders to speak and resolve matters, both
sides were of the view that a Delhi-Beijing connect
was important to ensure tempers dont flare up.
One of the reasons why China moved the idea,
sources said, was the worry in Beijing over the
negative publicity in India over incidents along the
But India feels that this should be one part of
the groups remit. The new mechanism is expected
to focus significant energy on ways to improve the
border environment by promoting, religious
excursions, opening more passes for movement of
people and reducing the general stress associated
with the India-China boundary.
At present, sources explained, there is very little
in terms of border interaction between popula-
tions on both sides. And with growing military
deployment, the atmosphere is more tense and,
hence, potentially volatile. The effort is to have this
mechanism come up with practical, yet innovative
ideas of border cooperation.
the maintenance of peace and tranquility along
the LAC, which was the objective of earlier agree-
Published on September 14, 2011
29 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


India hits China wall
in anti-terror talks

NDIAS first conversation in three years with
China on counter-terrorism recently failed to
make much headway despite New Delhi pro-
viding Beijing fresh findings and evidence.
Not only did China bluntly refuse to re-examine
its objection in the UN to proscribing the Jaish-e-
Mohammeds Maulana Masood Azhar and two
prominent Lashkar-e-Toiba faces, but also firmly
rejected looking into details of Chinese arms sup-
pliers provided by Anthony Shimray of the NSCN
The counter-terrorism dialogue in Beijing this
July, the first such talks after 26/11, was an attempt
at reviving this old bilateral mechanism after three
years. However, sources said, there was no
progress on substantive issues.
The US has been unsuccessfully prodding China,
a permanent member of the United Nations Secu-
rity Council, to allow the UN to put Azhar along
with Lashkar operatives Azam Cheema and Abdul
Rehman Makki under the al-Qaeda and Taliban
sanctions list. India had hoped for a change in the
Chinese attitude if it discussed the matter at a
more discreet bilateral setting.
According to reliable sources, while the Indian
side presented detailed information on each of the
three terror figures, all Pakistan-based, Chinese
officials insisted the information was still insuffi-
Interestingly, the Chinese interlocutors con-
veyed that Beijing was not contesting the terror-
related evidence provided by Delhi, but that infor-
mation connecting the three to al-Qaeda or
Taliban was not enough.

tions. A frustrated Indian delegation then
promised to revert with more information in due
course. Since then, instructions have gone out to
security agencies to obtain evidence of the kind
sought by China.
If this marked a poor beginning to the talks,
sources said, the discussion on Northeast insur-
gent groups and their alleged Chinese links was
almost a non-starter. The Indian side passed on
information provided by Shimray in his state-
ments before the court that the NSCN (IM) had
arranged arms and ammunition worth nearly $2
million from TCL, a subsidiary of Chinese arms
company China Xinshidai. However, even names
of individuals, the agents in Bangkok and other
such details did not seem to impress the Chinese
The Chinese interlocutors are believed to have
told their Indian counterparts that they could not
act on a mere confessional statement regard-
less of whether it had been admitted in a court of
law. Sources added that they latter reverted saying
the information could not be corroborated.
The only issue which the Chinese side raised
was the strong possibility of the Tibetan move-
ment turning violent in the near future and they
wanted India to take extra measures for security of
Chinese assets. The Indian side gave details of the
government going the extra mile to ensure the
India gave a detailed briefing on Pakistans role
in acts of terror on Indian soil. The Chinese side
was particularly interested in knowing the evi-
dence gathered in the 26/11 attacks.
The Chinese side argued that this was a techni-
cal requirement under the relevant UN resolu-
Published on September 5, 2011
Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


China red flags India
move to join NSG

HINA is learnt to have questioned Indias
membership proposal before the Nuclear
Suppliers Group (NSG) on grounds that an
exception should not be made for just one country.
In a clear attempt to build a case for Pakistan too,
China has told the 46-member grouping that all
potential candidates must be considered for mem-
According to details that have emerged from the
June 23-24 meeting of the NSG at Noordwijk in the
Netherlands, there was fair amount of concern
expressed by many members over considering
Indias membership given that it is not a signatory
to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Some countries
also urged the US and other countries like France
and UK, which were backing Indias case, to
reassess the impact this may have on the non-pro-
liferation regime.
However, it was China that took a totally differ-
ent line and asked for rules of membership to be
framed for all potential candidates than make an

have not signed the NPT and clearly, sources said,
the Chinese emphasis was aimed at benefiting
Islamabad. In the end, such a move would end up
complicating Indias case.
On the other hand, sources pointed out that Bei-
jing has in the past backed a criteria-based
approach within the NSG rather than granting
country-specific exemptions. To that extent, this is
being seen as a somewhat consistent position.
The US had agreed to pilot Indias membership
to the four sensitive technologies export control
regimes including the NSG which has the most
stringent controls. This commitment was con-
firmed through the Indo-US joint statement dur-
ing US President Barack Obamas visit to India.
While the US has circulated a non-paper among
member countries and India too has conducted its
own outreach effort, the roadblocks could be a
quite a few with China making its intention
uncharacteristically clear quite early in the pro-
exception for India. Pakistan and Israel are the only
remaining two nuclear-enabled countries that
Published on J uly 17, 2011
31 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


India, China work on resuming
defence exchanges

EEN on the resumption of high-level mili-
tary exchanges, India and China are dis-
cussing a proposal to have an Indian mili-
tary delegation at the Divisional Commander
level visit China.
New Delhi has, however, made it clear that the
leader of the delegation will be an officer from the
Northern Command. Last July, India had decided
to suspend high-level military exchanges after
Beijing told New Delhi that the Northern Army
Commander, who was leading a delegation of
senior military officials to China, would require a
stapled visa. The reasoning given was that he was
in-charge of an area, Jammu & Kashmir, for whose
residents Beijing does not issue regular visas but
staples them on the passport.
While some breakthrough could come during
Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs visit to China
starting Tuesday, officials are downplaying expec-
tations, aware that Beijing will be more focused on
the multilateral event at the resort town of Sanya
the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South
Africa) Summit.
Its learnt that Singh is slated to meet Chinese
President Hu Jintao on Wednesday. They will dis-
cuss the entire range of bilateral issues, particular-
ly the proposed bilateral strategic economic dia-
logue that will be led, on New Delhis side, by
Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Mon-
tek Singh Ahluwalia.
On high-level defence exchanges, sources
said, both sides have tried to be creative in find-
ing a solution. If the Chinese were to agree to the
proposal, they would have to issue a stamped
visa to the Major General-level officer from
Northern Command. At the same time, India is

said, that China may see reason in the fact that
a Divisional Commander is not in charge of the
entire J&K.
The hope here is that if this works out, then
both countries can inch closer to resolving the
stapled visa issue. While China has not issued
stapled visas in the last few months to J&K resi-
dents, sources said, the question in New Delhi is
when will China start issuing stamped visas on a
regular basis.
There have been some instances of proper
visas being given to J&K residents like when a
singer from Jammu had to perform at the closing
ceremony of the Asian Games at Guangzhou. Or
even the four media persons from J&K traveling
with the Prime Minister to cover the BRICS sum-
mit. But sources cautioned against reading too
much into this arguing that Beijing may have
issued proper visas this time since it would not
want this row to cloud its showcase BRICS summit.
Since India suspended military exchanges,
there have been a string of messages from differ-
ent levels in China that such a situation was not
desirable, including from Gen Ma Xiaotian, Deputy
Chief of General Staff in the Chinese PLA. India was
clear that this was linked to the stapled visa issue
and that this had to resolved.
The matter also came up for discussion during
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabaos visit to India last
December and he assured the Indian side that Chi-
na would find a way out on the stapled visa issue.
Of late, Chinese officials too have been positive on
resolving this issue and resuming high-level mili-
tary contact, which has prompted some optimism
in New Delhi. But, as of now, sources said, it is still
not a done deal.
not insisting that only the Northern Army com-
mander head the delegation. Its hoped, officials
Published on April 12, 2012
Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


Plans on track, China rail link to
stretch to near Sikkim border
HINA is set to extend its Tibet railway net-
work into the strategically important
Chumbi valley area, next to Sikkim and the
Siliguri corridor. This was confirmed by a Chinese
Railways Ministry map, put out last month, show-
ing Chinas long term railway network plan.
Until now, these plans were being loosely spec-
ulated upon, but they now have an official stamp
on it. The latest map shows the railway line
extending from Lhasa to Zangmu on the Nepal
border, which is going to eventually extend into
Nepal and even Kathmandu.
According to the plan, another line will branch
out midway from this link to Zangmu, at a place
called Shigatse. This line will move east and go
right up to Yadong, on the mouth of the Chumbi
Valley. This town is connected to Sikkim through
the Nathu La pass and is strategically located on
the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan.
There are areas near Yadong which are still dis-
puted between China and Bhutan. The area wit-
nessed military conflict in 1962 as part of the Indi-
an effort to defend Nathu La.
While construction on the line has not yet start-

ed, sources said, feasibility studies are already
being conducted. This project is slated for comple-
tion by 2017, bringing the Tibet railway just 500
km short of the Siliguri corridor. This may raise
demands from Bangladesh to provide connectivity
to the Chinese market via India.
This project must be seen along with the hectic
progress, further east, on a railway line connecting
Kunming in China to Singapore. With the Thailand
government throwing its weight behind the idea,
work on this project is moving at a quick pace. Giv-
en that there already exists a trade route from the
Indian border to Kunming, the understanding is
that pressure will increase on India to link up with
the Chinese railway network.
What is of more concern to India is that the
improved technological ability in this sphere
means Beijing will end up meeting its deadlines. In
the last year, China added over 10,000 km of high
speed railway, and in the past five years has built
70,000 km railway lines. India, on the other hand,
has struggled to connect Bhutan to India by rail.

Published on February 14, 2011
33 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS


China begins building
dam on its side of the

O FAR, Beijing has denied any plans to build a
dam on its side of the Brahmaputra river. But
strong evidence has now emerged to suggest
that China has begun constructing a dam on the
river which it calls the Yarlungzangbo (better
known as Yarlong Tsangpo to the Tibetans).
Its learnt that the Zangmu hydroelectrical pro-
ject was inaugurated on March 16 this year and
the first concrete was poured on April 2.
The 1.138-billion Yuan (1 Yuan = $0.15) project
has been awarded to a five-company consortium
with China Gezhouba Group along with NIDR
(China Water Northeastern investigation, design
and research) involved in its construction.
Involved in its financing is the Huaneng Corpo-
ration, one of Chinas biggest power companies.

From preliminary information available with
India, the Chinese plan to have a series of five
medium-sized dams along the river in the Nan-
shan region of Tibet at Zangmu, Jiacha or Gyatsa,
Zhongda, Jiexu and Langzhen.
Of this, sources said, detailed information so far
is available on the Zangmu dam.
This dam is expected to generate 540 MW; its
height will be 116 m and length 389.5 m, its 19 m
wide at the top and 76 m wide at the bottom.
According to information that is being circulat-
ed by companies involved in the project, the
Zangmu dam is a gravity dam with water-block-
ing structures which could mean construction of
a reservoir.
Some academic articles had set off fears of
Copyright 2013 The Indian Express
The Indian EXPRESS

hydroelectric projects and water diversion plans
on the Brahmaputra in Tibet about three years ago.
A worried India, as a lower riparian country,
had taken up the matter with China. Beijing had
then assured New Delhi that these were just arti-
cles in the press and no concrete decision had
been taken.
The assumption here was that China was only
looking at tributaries of the Brahmaputra but the
Zangmu dam project is well after all tributaries
have joined the river.
The two countries had then agreed to establish
a joint mechanism for sharing technical data on
rivers like the Brahmaputra and Sutlej.
This exchange, however, has been restricted to
flood season data and Indian efforts to widen the
scope of information-sharing have not moved
China, sources said, never informed India about
its plans or this specific project.
Significantly, according to information
evacuation of people from the area from Novem-
ber 1, 2007.
According to the order, the dam site will include
all areas up to 3310 m above sea level and people
inhabiting these heights were asked to vacate.
Earlier this month, the Gezhouba group is said
to have gone public saying it had successfully
completed setting up the concrete feed line.
Satellite images from February show construc-
tion activity in Zangmu and Jiacha with evidence
of labour quarters.
The consequences to India from this project and
the others about which little information is known
can only be ascertained if more information is
shared and teams are allowed to access the site.
Its learnt that the tendering process for this
entire project is being overseen by the Three
Gorges International Corporation.
Along with India, Bangladesh is another coun-
try that would be affected by dams and has often
voiced concerns in this regard.
received here, the Nanshan Regional Administra-
tion issued orders as early as October 30, 2007 for
Published on October 15, 2009
The Indian EXPRESS
35 Copyright 2012 The Indian Express


China strikes back on Arunachal

ARELY weeks after it failed in its attempt to
block Asian Development Bank (ADB) funds
to a project in Arunachal Pradesh, China has
successfully struck back.
Last month, in a development New Delhi has
been quiet about, China won a vote on a disclo-
sure agreement, which prevents ADB from for-
mally acknowledging Arunachal Pradesh as part of
India. (A disclosure agreement is a formal notifica-
tion of a project once its approved by the ADB
On June 16, India had successfully isolated Chi-
na the entire ADB Board except Beijing had vot-
ed in Indias favour and secured approval for its
$2.9-billion country plan. China had raised objec-
tions to the plan because it included $60-million
projects in Arunachal Pradesh. It argued that ADB
cannot fund projects in disputed areas like
Arunachal Pradesh.
Clearly, China did not give up after that defeat
and the reversal is symptomatic of its growing
clout. Its learnt that India lost the vote despite US
and most of the Western bloc voting in Indias
favour. In what was relatively a narrow margin, the
scales were tilted in Chinas favour by Japan, Aus-
tralia and a group of other South East Asian coun-

Pakistan, of course, also went with China.
In particular, sources said, the role of Japan has
come as a shock to India. Being the current chair of
the ADB board, Japan allowed the matter to be put
to vote.
Once that happened, Japan backed China indi-
cating a shift in its political approach.
It now transpires that since the first vote where
China was humiliated, it left no stone unturned in
increasing pressure on South East Asian countries,
and Japan and South Korea.
The defeat has caused considerable concern in
official circles here. One view is that India should
not take the $60 million meant for projects in
Arunachal Pradesh. Its quite possible that India
will not use ADB funding for the state. In future,
sources said, India will also have to be careful
when it lists projects in sensitive areas for exter-
nal funding.
The more serious ramification is diplomatic.
There is a view that after the June 16 victory, India
didnt anticipate the Chinese response and so did
not plan its lobbying as well as it did the first time.
Incidentally, before the June vote, India had sent
demarches to all 66 countries represented at the
tries. Despite US support, India was also surprised
by the fact that Australia chose to go with China.
Published on September 18, 2009
The Indian EXPRESS
36 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express


The China chill

OW that the dust has somewhat settled on
the China hype, with the government
going the full distance to scotch half-
truths and rumours which created needless anxi-
ety for about two weeks, it is important to also
straighten the record on this new brand of Chinese
aggressiveness which has been conspicuously
downplayed in the government discourse that has
First, it must be pointed out that for all the
reports about Chinese incursions, the fact remains
that there are confidence-building efforts under-
way, aimed at precisely avoiding any miscalculat-
ed event on the Line of Actual Control amid grow-
ing misperceptions. A hotline between Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier
Wen Jiabao is in the process of being set up, and
more recently the Eastern Army Commander, who
is in charge of the Arunachal Pradesh segment of
the LAC, went on a week-long trip to China along
with senior commanders in the Central and North-
ern Commands who directly oversee military
deployment across the entire LAC.
They visited Tibet and were even shown an air-
base in the Chengdu region to which no foreign
official had so far been provided access. By all
accounts, Beijing is not keen on escalating tensions
on the LAC beyond manageable limits. After all,
this is not 1962 and the stakes for China are much
higher than before as it aspires to consolidate its
bid for superpowerhood after the global financial
crisis. Yet, the LAC serves an important function in
Chinese strategy towards India which is more
complicated than is often made out to be.
Why else would pictures of a rock painted with
Chinese script (middle of the Yellow River),
some exaggerated reports of a scuffle between
Indian and Chinese soldiers near Nathu La and an
incorrect report about an alleged exchange of fire
in Sikkim unsettle Sino-Indian diplomatic rela-
tions? China cried foul, its official media carried
articles imputing motives and even suggesting

this to be an orchestrated media offensive while
Indian diplomacy searched for answers. This was
not the first time China has shown extreme sensi-
tivity to the Indian media. Recall the Tibetan
protests last year.
While there is a strong case, as the prime minis-
ter himself pointed out, to improve the govern-
ment information system on such issues, the ques-
tion to be asked is, why has this become a
diplomatic obligation? The government can surely
correct the media or regulate protests, but can it
be sure of an absolute outcome as Beijing
demands? It is important to clearly convey the
limitations of a democratic government so as to
not raise expectations, else it could become obli-
gatory and sow the seeds for the next crisis. This is
what has happened with the Indian medias cover-
age of China, which is now unfortunately a diplo-
matic issue dominating conversation at high levels
and not a mere question of clarifying a wrong
report here or there. China demands results and
India feels obligated to deliver.
So for this reason it is also important to question
that if incursions have been happening for the past
two decades from both sides, then why the sudden
public interest? How did it start and who pro-
voked matters? A closer look would suggest that
India need not be so defensive because China has
to take some of the blame, if not most of it.
In many ways 2005 was a watershed year for
Indian strategic and diplomatic aspirations. India
and the US entered into a nuclear deal. Wen visited
India and reached an agreement laying out the
political parameters and guiding principles for a
settlement to the India-China boundary question.
Article VII said that in reaching a settlement, the
two sides would duly safeguard the interests of
their settled populations. This was interpreted by
India as a step forward on China giving up claims
to Arunachal Pradesh because this was one of the
most contested elements of the agreement. A year
later and a new Chinese foreign minister, Yang
The Indian EXPRESS
37 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express

Jiechi, surprised his then Indian counterpart,
Pranab Mukherjee, at a bilateral on the sidelines of
a multilateral event in Hamburg by pointing out
that the mention of settled populations did not
mean China had given up its claim on Arunachal
This could still be argued as posturing over the
fine print. But from then on, China inexplicably
upped the ante. Visas were not issued to civil ser-
vants of the Arunachal Pradesh cadre, troop build-
up was increased across the LAC and then, in a sur-
prise move in January 2008, China staked claim to
a 2.1 sq km tract of land on the tip of Sikkim called
Finger Area. This brought back into dispute the
middle sector of the LAC, which was considered
settled in general perception. India lodged diplo-
matic protests but finally it had to beef up troop
presence in the area.
Chinese aggressiveness on its only unsettled
boundary represents a steady effort at changing
facts on the ground and this has been more active
since the 2005 agreement, indicating sharp differ-
ences in perception on both sides. Still, all of this
makes little sense unless seen in the context of
overall Chinese assertiveness when it comes to
Indian aspirations.
First discreetly and then openly, China blocked
Indias most important diplomatic initiative with
ously left the meeting just as all other opposition
withered away and delayed proceedings until the
White House called the Chinese president. There is
enough evidence with India of Chinese diplomats
egging on the United for Consensus grouping at
the UN to block expansion of the Security Council.
Close coordination with Pakistan on all these
issues is now a matter of record. Add to this, the
latest row at the Asian Development Bank over
granting assistance to projects in Arunachal
Pradesh only confirms Beijings intentions to
frame the state as a disputed area in international
Clearly, over the past four years, China has used
every lever in its rapidly growing diplomatic arse-
nal to throw India off-balance, unsettle its priori-
ties and openly rival Indian influence in South
Asia. China has provoked India repeatedly of late
and no amount of pressure from India has worked.
Indias best answer so far has been to garner sup-
port from the US and its allies, like at the NSG. A
rising China even reduces these possibilities, but
the problem is even larger for the Indian polity
which has to explain this to an equally resilient
and aspiring India. Whatever the government
comes up with, another fact is also clear blank-
ing out China from public discourse is no longer a
the US the nuclear deal at the Nuclear Suppli-
ers Group. The Chinese delegation unceremoni-
Published on Septeber 4, 2009
The Indian EXPRESS
38 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express


India-China face-off worsens
over ADB loan for Arunachal

NDIA and China are headed for a major con-
frontation in the Asian Development Bank with
Beijing digging its heels in and not giving its
consent to the $2.9-billion India development plan
unless the mention of Arunachal Pradesh is
removed from the document.
A sum of $60 million is marked for a watershed
development project, including flood manage-
ment, for Arunachal Pradesh.
China considers the state disputed territory
and wants it to be removed from the document.
The Bank has asked India to resolve the matter
bilaterally provoking a strong reaction from New
Delhi. While a board meeting has been scheduled
for June 2, India has let it be known that it would
rather withdraw the entire plan than remove
Arunachal Pradesh for the sake of financial
In March, as first reported by The Indian

meeting but India had hoped that the ADB would
resolve the matter in due course. However, New
Delhi was taken by surprise when the ADB wrote
to the government recently that it should use
bilateral channels to find a way out.
Its learnt that India has asked the ADB not to
indulge China on bilateral issues. In the run-up to
the June 2 meeting, India will look to lobby hard
with other board members to ensure that the Chi-
nese objection is overruled. If the conflict isnt
resolved, official sources said, the government
may look for alternative funding.
Part of the problem emerges from the fact that
ADB does not have a policy for projects in disputed
areas. Being the largest donor after US and Japan to
the Bank, China is clearly using its clout. India,
which is only next to China, will have to lean on
the US and Japan along with South Korea to get its
Express, China successfully obtained a postpone-
ment of a decision on the plan at the ADB Board
Published on May 14, 2009
The Indian EXPRESS
39 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express


At ADB, Beijing blocks
Indias $60-m project for Arunachal

AYS after it objected to President Prati-
bha Patils visit to Arunachal Pradesh,
Beijing has stunned New Delhi at the
Asian Development Bank (ADB) by blocking
Indias development plan because it contained
a $60 million project for Arunachal Pradesh.
China is learnt to have held back its approval
at the ADB Board saying it could not clear a plan
containing a programme in a disputed territo-
ry. Thus, Beijing has, for the first time, escalat-
ed the bilateral Arunachal Pradesh issue to a
level involving multilateral institutions.
New Delhis made it clear to the ADB that
theres no question of removing the Arunachal
project from the plan. It has argued that ADB
cannot allow its forum for bilateral issues and
link these to its lending policies.
The Chinese move is also seen as a disturbing
pointer to what could lie ahead given that the
world is bracing for a more expanded involve-
ment of China in the IMF and the World Bank.
Matters came to a head when Indias strategy
paper for 2012 came up at the board meeting on
March 26-27. Among the largest recipients of
ADB loans, India had drawn up a $2.9-billion

in Arunachal Pradesh.
China has used its right to postpone a matter
in the board. Given that Beijings the largest
donor after US and Japan to ADB, its clearly
using its clout. India is next only to China and is
leaning heavily on board members to not let
Beijing get its way on this issue.
The World Bank has a policy on funding pro-
jects in disputed areas that only requires mak-
ing a note of it before granting approval. India
feels ADB could consider such a policy.
India and China had agreed in the two high-
profile visits of former PMs Rajiv Gandhi and
Atal Behari Vajpayee that they would not allow
contentious issues like the boundary dispute to
impact progress on other fronts, particularly
economic relations. In 2005, the two countries
reached an understanding which included safe-
guarding due interests of settled populations.
All of this unraveled when Chinese Foreign
Minister Yang Jiechi told Indian counterpart
Pranab Mukherjee that mere presence of
populated areas would not affect Beijings
claims. Since then, China has hardened its
programme in consultation with the Bank and
this included a watershed development project
Published on April 13, 2009
The Indian EXPRESS
40 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express


Sleepless in Vienna: China
threatens to leave for home,
US works into the night

ITH Austria and Ireland still holding out
and the Chinese delegation threatening
to leave for Beijing, tough negotiations
were on late into the night at the 45-member
Nuclear Suppliers Group in Vienna to forge a con-
sensus to end Indias three and a half decades of
nuclear isolation.
A new NSG draft was in the works and had been
sent to Washington for clearance although India
made it clear that there was almost no scope to
revise the draft in substantive terms.
The Chinese, sources said, objected to what they
called was the manner in which matters were being
pushed on an issue they said involved the future of
the global non-proliferation regime.
Well aware of the stakes in the Indo-US nuclear
deal and the tight Congressional calendar ahead
the highest levels in Washington got in touch
with their counterparts in Beijing to get China to
stay on by including it in the consultative process.
China, which until yesterday was in the back-
ground trying to play arbitrator of sorts by suggest-
ing to hold another meeting, seemed to suddenly
reveal its hand in the most unexpected manner.
This happened even as US was in consultations
with holdout countries like Austria, Ireland and
New Zealand on the one hand and India on the oth-
er, to work out a resolution.
Among the suggestions from some countries to
break the deadlock was to place a provision banning
transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technolo-
gy. India has so far maintained it cannot accept a
restriction not existing in current NSG guidelines.
Austria and Ireland were, however, keen to intro-
duce language on testing. Austria, in particular, cit-
ed domestic concerns.

India and US spent the whole day today slowly
chipping away at the opposition with External
Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee issuing a state-
ment underlining New Delhis commitment to
global disarmament and strengthening the interna-
tional non-proliferation regime.
The statement was circulated immediately at the
start of the NSG meet this morning soon after it was
clear that the Netherlands and Norway had moved
away from the club of six holdouts.
The meeting broke up within 90 minutes as
countries said they had to consult their respective
At that point, US Under Secretary of State for Arms
Control John Rood emerged from the discussions
and welcomed what he called Indias very signifi-
cant statement. It has generated a positive mom-
entum for the discussions, he said. We both are
committed to the objective of achieving a consensus
and are optimistic that we can achieve this goal.
The statement, as reported by The Indian Express
today, was one of the key proposals on the table to
assuage concerns of some holdout countries.
Besides reaffirming the Indian position on disarma-
ment, Mukherjees statement sought to address key
concerns raised by sceptics in the NSG.
India will not be a source of proliferation of sen-
sitive technologies, including enrichment and
reprocessing transfers. We stand for strengthening
of the non-proliferation regime. We support inter-
national efforts to limit the spread of ENR equip-
ment or technologies to states that do not have
them. We will work together with the international
community to advance our common objective of
non-proliferation, Mukherjee said.
Its learnt that based on this statement, countries
The Indian EXPRESS
41 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express

like Switzerland and New Zealand were willing to
reconsider their stand but the opposition from Aus-
tria remained strident. Elections are due soon here
and the incumbent Social Democratic Party is in
coalition with the Greens Party that is vehemently
opposed to nuclear energy.
Sources said Austria conveyed that it fears
domestic repercussions given the publicity this
ly strong NPT votaries. Both the countries are insist-
ing some language directly referring to testing in
the NSG draft.
From an Indian standpoint, sources said, all
efforts were being made to get the exemption past
the group today but at some point, the hope is that
the majority may weigh down on the last of the few
meeting has had in Vienna. Holding on steadfastly
with the Austrians are the Irish who are traditional-

The long 4
Published on September 5, 2008
Out of 45 NSG countries, how many were
the first to wave the red flag?
Six countries: Austria, Ireland, the
Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand and
When 39 countries supported the n-
deal, why did these 6 hold out?
They have strong non-proliferation
lobbies at work at home, and tough
domestic laws.
New Zealand and Austria are going to
Does the determined opposition mean
the US and India read the NSG wrong?
It was always known that the NSG would
be tough, but the squeezing of the calendar
has led to this situation. Originally, the NSG
phase was supposed to be spread over 6
What steps did the US take to bring the
holdouts on board?
The US was in touch with them at the
highest political level. In the NSG, the UK,
France and Russia too were trying to
convince them.
Until late on Friday night, who were still
holding out? Why?
Austria and Ireland. Austrias ruling
coalition includes the Greens (the Leftists).
Ireland is a strong non-proliferation
votary. New Zealand was still not open
about support but unlikely to hold out if
these two countries move out of the way.
What has been Chinas role?
The stated position was they wont
obstruct. But they have now questioned
the need to hurry and today, even
threatened to leave the meeting saying
they were not being consulted.
If the NSG talks fail, what happens next?
The NSG calls for another meeting and if
that gives a waiver, the US could call a
special session of Congress to pass the deal
Why are US, India so keen on an
immediate waiver?
One, the Congressional calender is too
tight to allow any breathing space; two,
India, US dont want to leave the fate of the
deal in the uncertain hands of the next
The Indian EXPRESS
42 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express


Beijing says why the hurry as
Vienna moves closer to a deal

IFFERENCES in the 45-member Nuclear
Suppliers Group over a historic waiver for
India from its guidelines narrowed down
on the first day of this crucial meeting today rais-
ing hopes of a decision by tomorrow as the US
mounted increasing political pressure on coun-
tries holding out on a consensus.
The opposition was down to six countries, Ire-
land, Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway
and Netherlands. But by late tonight, sources said,
Netherlands and Norway had begun to show
more flexibility after the US explained that India
had made it clear it could not accept any more
amendments. The option left was to either go
ahead with the exemption or let India walk
away after coming this far.
However, China seemed to play the spoiler
arguing that there was no compulsion to push for
a decision at this meeting and if there were still
reservations, more time should be given to
address concerns related to the global non-pro-
liferation architecture. Clearly, this was not
acceptable to the US because it would jeopardize
the entire nuclear deal going by the tough time-
line that lies ahead on Capitol Hill.
But the Chinese position added weight to the
hold-out countries which agreed with Beijing. Yet,
by evening, indications were that a decision was
likely by tomorrow. In fact, US Under Secretary of
State for Arms Control John Rood slated a meeting
in the International Atomic Energy Agency tomor-
row afternoon fuelling speculation that the NSG
meet may conclude earlier than expected.
While there are no significant changes in the
new draft before the NSG, sources said, the
upfront reference to Paragraph 16 of the NSG
guidelines in the exemption note is being used to
good effect by US diplomats to win over the scep-
tics. The revised draft states that if one or more
member states consider that circumstances have

arisen for consultations, then the NSG will go
according to procedures in Paragraph 16 of its
This says that once consultations are on, sup-
plier countries will not do anything to prejudice
the process. In other words, they may take appro-
priate action which could even include suspend-
ing the transfer of Trigger List items sensitive
technology that could be used in the weapons
programme during this period. And if a viola-
tion is confirmed upon consultation, Paragraph 16
is clear that countries will terminate supplies.
Sources said this provision is similar to what is
agreed in the 123 agreement, where consulta-
tions take place before termination. US diplomats
have argued in the NSG that this provision is an
effective response built into the exemption in
case India were to detonate a device.
After the first session, delegations from the six
sceptic countries held a meeting over lunch
after US stepped up efforts to outflank them.
The relatively reduced scepticism by the end of
the day was backed by calls to not prolong this
decision. While the NSG started its meeting,
sources said, New Delhi was burning the phone
lines. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External
Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and National
Security Advisor M K Narayanan have been speak-
ing to their counterparts in the six holdout
countries asking them not to block a consensus.
The group held a three-hour session in the
forenoon and then reconvened for an hour in the
evening. US believes firmly that the steps we are
considering for India will strengthen the non-pro-
liferation regime and will help to welcome one of
the worlds largest economies and biggest democ-
racies more fully into the global fold. I believe
they are making steady progress in this process
and we will continue to make progress, said US
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
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43 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express

William Burns who is heading the US delegation
Its learnt that the US has, in the past two days,
sent a strong political message to the six coun-
tries, asking them to consider that burdening the
draft with any condition unacceptable to India
will only make New Delhi walk away from the ini-
tiative which would be a net loss for non-prolif-
One of the proposals made at the meeting
today was that India give a public statement reaf-
firming its commitments made in the July 18,
2005 joint statement as a reassurance.
For the Manmohan Singh government, a con-
sensus at the NSG could help respond to the polit-
ical criticism in New Delhi over the State Depart-
ment letter to the US Congress made public by
chairperson of the House International Relations
Committee Howard Berman. It would allow the
government to argue that the nuclear deal was no
longer a Indo-US affair and that other partners
like Russia and France would, perhaps, matter
more in the implementation of the nuclear deal.


Only Ireland, Austria, New Zealand and
Switzerland holdout countries, getting cover fire
from China

US tells them: Any more changes, India walks

PM, Pranab work the phones

One proposal: India issue a statement
reiterating July 2005 agreement

US fixes meeting with IAEA for Friday afternoon

Revised draft says if a member complains of
violation for example, a test NSG will call a
meeting and members can put transfers on hold
until decision

Published on September 4, 2008
The Indian EXPRESS
44 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express


Tip of Sikkim is latest
India-China flashpoint

HINA has surprised India by laying claim on a
small tract of land in North Sikkim, even
threatening this week to demolish existing
stone structures there. India has strongly rebutted
these claims, lodged an official protest and barred
Chinese troops from entering the area.
Referred to as the Finger Area by Indian armed
forces, this territory falls north of Gyangyong in
Sikkim and overlooks a strategically important val-
ley known as the Sora Funnel. It contains several
stone cairns, which are essentially heaps of stones
that can be used for shelter. The area is in the north-
ernmost tip of Sikkim, north of a place called
Gyangyong, and appears like a protruding finger on
the map hence the name Finger Area.
On Thursday, at the periodic division comman-
der-level flag meeting in Nathu La, India made it
clear that it will not allow Chinese troops to enter
the area and will strongly enforce this measure.
While this was not the first time in the past five
months that India was asking Chinese troops to stay
away, sources said, this time it underlined stronger
A day earlier, in Beijing at a lunch meeting
between Indian officials led by Indian Ambassador
to China Nirupama Rao and a Chinese team led by
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister for Foreign
Affairs He Yafei, a key member of the Chinese dele-
gation called aside a senior Indian diplomat and
conveyed Chinese objections on the row building
up in North Sikkim.
And in that informal off-the-record conversation,
the Chinese side is believed to have gone to the
extent of saying that its troops would soon demol-
ish the stone cairns. A surprised Indian side is said
to have pointed out that this would be a breach of
the treaty to maintain peace and tranquility along
the LAC.
Though off-the-record, the message of Chinas
informal threat officially reached New Delhi,

which then made it clear at the military-level meet-
ing that the Indian Army will not tolerate any more
transgression into this area by Chinese troops. This
has created a bit of tension, but the general view is
that, at present, the issue had not gone beyond pos-
Going back in history, Chinese troops used to
cross the area during patrols but this was attributed
to the general confusion that occurs during patrols
along the Line of Actual Control. In many other
areas, Indian troops, too, would cross Chinese terri-
tory for the same practical reasons like taking the
shorter and negotiable route which may involve bit
of transgression.
The row began to build up last year when Chi-
nese troops started to frequent the area far too often
this year too about 50 Chinese transgressions
have been reported in this area and then started
building a road towards the end of the year that
crossed this tract of land.
When India objected to this at a local military
commander level, China claimed that the area fell in
its territory. A shocked Indian side then produced a
1924 map of the Survey of India where the stone
cairns have been identified and shown as part of
Indian territory. When China did not pay much
attention to this, India even lodged a diplomatic
protest in February with the Chinese government
on this issue. This was after China had protested
other troop deployments in Sikkim resulting from
relocation of India troops from the western border.
As a result of this diplomatic escalation, the road
construction near the area came to a halt.
Realising that this could suddenly escalate into a
major controversy, the Indian side started beefing
up its positions and constructing pathways in the
area. Sources said this further annoyed China,
which re-emphasised its claim.
The bigger question that has emerged from this
issue, China destroying a makeshift bunker at Doka
The Indian EXPRESS
45 Copyright 2013 The Indian Express


La near the Sino-Sikkim-Bhutan trijunction and
then the protest of India troop movements, sources
said, is a Chinese effort to bring Sikkim back into the
boundary controversy. Known as the Middle Sector
of the LAC, the boundary along Sikkim was consid-
exchanged maps.
But clearly, what was considered a settled issue
once China recognized Sikkim as part of India is
now making an uncomfortable re-entry into the
boundary settlement discourse.
ered a less difficult issue compared to other sectors.
In fact, this is the only sector where both sides have
Published on May 17, 2008


China draws another
hardline on Arunachal

IGNALLING a gradual hardening of its posi-
tion on Arunachal Pradesh, new Chinese
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has conveyed
to Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee in Ham-
burg last week that mere presence of populated
areas would not affect Chinese claims on the
Its learnt that Yangs remarks have surprised
New Delhi. For, Article 7 in the agreement
between both countries two years ago, clearly
indicated the contrary. It stated: In reaching a
boundary settlement, the two sides shall safe-
guard due interests of their settled populations in
the border areas.
Its also being seen as a dampener given that
India was keen on obtaining a concession on the
Chinese claim when Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh visits China later this year.
Singh, who arrived here today for the G8 sum-
mit, will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao tomor-
row and look to gauge the response at his level.
While its unlikely that the PM will raise Yangs

Chinese visa to an IAS officer from the state.
Last November, during Hus visit to India, both
sides had agreed on a 10-point strategy to
improve the bilateral relationship. Key to this was
expediting Special Representative-level talks for
an early settlement of the boundary question.
Significantly, Chinas subtle but firm attempts
to bring back the issue of Arunachal Pradesh into
public discourse started just ahead of that visit.
First, the Chinese did not entertain Indias request
to hold a meeting of the Special Representatives
ahead of Hus visit. This was followed by Chinese
Ambassador Sun Yuxis remark, refusal of visas to
delegations from Arunachal Pradesh and now the
denial of visa to an IAS officer from that state.
While India makes sense of this change in Chi-
nas attitudes, top officials have started to grapple
with the question of whether Indias rising global
profile and improving ties with the West are con-
tributing to this. Wrapped in secrecy and perfect-
ed in planning, sources say, the Chinese approach
has first to be deciphered, then understood.
remarks with Hu, Arunachal CM Dorji Khandu
had asked Singh to raise the issue of denial of a
Published on J une 6, 2007
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