By – Vinit Wahi
The simmering tensions between India and China may further escalate with a move by the later that can well be interpreted as an attempt to legally formalize China’s recent actions along the border areas of India, especially the Arunachal Pradesh where it is reported to have built around 680 Xiaokang or prosperous villages. China has recently passed a law called land border law of the People’s Republic of China which will come into effect from next month. It is directly targeted at the countries that share a common border with China and has immediate implications for India’s ongoing stand-off along the line of actual control (LAC). One of the provisions of the law states if the personnel illegally crossing the border are members of the armed forces they shall be dealt with by the relevant military agencies instead of the established civil laws of the land.
India was obviously quick to react to the new law by its Himalayan neighbour with its ministry of external affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, saying China’s unilateral decision to bring about a legislation which can have implication on our existing bilateral arrangements on border management as well as on the boundary question is of concern to us. Such unilateral move will have no bearing on the arrangements that both sides have already reached earlier whether it is on the boundary question or for maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LAC in India-China border areas.
The spokesperson further said we also expect China will avoid undertaking action under the pretext of this new law which could unilaterally alter the situation on the border areas between the two countries.
On its side though, China has said its new land border law will not affect the implementation of existing border treaties and urged relevant countries to avoid making ‘undue speculation’ about a ‘normal legislation’ but given the past experience with that country over the decades, it cannot be trusted on its face value.
The matter came to the fore this September when in a shocking revelation, the advisory board of the global counter terrorism council informed that China has built 680 Xiaokang or prosperous villages along its border with India. These villages are meant to lure the Indian villagers towards a better Chinese life and also serve as additional eyes and ears for Beijing.
These are intelligence operations from their side and so we are training our police personnel regarding these attempts and sensitising them on how to counter their moves, according to Krishan Varma, a member of the advisory board to the council.
In fact, Varma, a former special secretary with the government of India, while attending a programme at the Rashtriya Raksha University in Gandhinagar, said the university has designed a tailor-made course for the Arunachal Pradesh police so as to counter the Chinese attempts of infiltration. In fact, these programmes are specific to cater to the needs of North-eastern states. Over and above this, these police personnel are also being taught the Mandarin (Chinese language).
What has added to India’s problem is the fact that the migration of people from remote Arunachal Pradesh villages along the China and Myanmar border has depopulated villages and given rise to obvious strategic concerns. There are about 600 villages within 10 km of the 1046 km border that the North-eastern state shares with Tibet in China. Lack of essential services, growing aspirations of the younger generation and poverty seems to have made their exodus unstoppable notwithstanding the efforts by the state government.
In fact, the Arunachal Pradesh assembly was apprised in its session this August that migration is really alarming in Kurung Kumey,Kra Daadi, and upper Subansiri districts which share borders with China. While the state government has proposed a special package of Rs 4195 crore involving five line departments to the union home ministry for overall development of infrastructure there, migration continues unabated as in the past too a slew of measures were announced, many of which never saw the light of the day.
In fact, reports say in the border regions of southwest China’s Xizang autonomous region newly built and consistently developing comparatively well-off villages have become an essential and effective tool of border defence. Sources say by the end of 2020, Tibet had built more than 600 well off, high standard border villages. The roads connecting villages are also quite accessible. At least 130 border roads have been newly built or reconstructed with a total length of 3080 kms.
In fact, journalists during a press tour recently to that region were told by senior Indian army officials there that some infrastructure development has been noticed on the Chinese side and subsequently India is now scaling up its defence in Arunachal Pradesh by deploying cruise missiles, howitzers, US-made Chinook transport choppers and drones. This apart, Indian army engineers are also building a road tunnel at 13000 feet above which is expected to link the area near Tawang- one of the closest towns to Tibet-with the outer world. These tunnels will mean all-weather connectivity for locals and security forces deployed in Tawang.
Even the annual US department of defence report on military developments involving China also refers to the creation of a 100-home Chinese village in undemarcated areas of Arunachal Pradesh and says the village in question is located on the banks of River Tsari Chu and lies in upper Subansiri district.
But setting up villages near the LAC poses border management problems.
Source: Himalayan News Chronicle