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DC Edit | Put curbs on China trade to check border mischief


Published on: December 13, 2022 | Updated on: December 13, 2022

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spoke in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament. (Photo: ANI)

Referring to the Chinese thrust in Arunachal Pradesh in the early hours of December 9, which is agitating the nation since the two-year-old military misdemeanours of Xi Jinping’s China in eastern Ladakh are yet to be resolved, defence minister Rajnath Singh informed both Houses of Parliament on Tuesday that Chinese soldiers tried to "unilaterally alter the status quo" along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). A proper discussion in both Houses was in order. But this was not to be in spite of Opposition demands.

It would have been apt if a resolution had emerged from India’s Parliament that captured the situation on the ground and pointed the way to this country’s understanding of itself, and its conception of the world. This would have carried weight as it would reflect all shades of opinion in the House.

All political parties share the government’s deep concern in the matter, regardless of the observation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2020 that Indian territory had not been encroached by Chinese soldiers. The country is concerned. Regrettably, there has been no opportunity for Parliament to discuss the matter of China’s incursion inside the LAC two years ago in Ladakh, and now an attempt to do the same in the eastern sector.

It is a good thing that the government has let it be known without reserve that the bilateral relationship with China cannot return to normal until the status quo ante is restored in eastern Ladakh. By extension, normality will be hard to restore if China has repeatedly demonstrated inclination to breach the LAC — as last week’s example in the Tawang heights shows — persists. The government’s and the country’s resolve will be strengthened, and be visible, if a parliamentary resolution spoke for us all. This is why a discussion in Parliament is so important.

If the full-throated voice of Parliament was behind the government, its echo would carry to Beijing and around the world. In the absence of this, an unrepentant China can wag a finger at the United States, asking it not to interfere in India-China relations, as a Pentagon report conveyed to the US Congress not too long ago. What’s more, Beijing can pronounce — in the manner of the devil citing scripture — that the recent India-US joint military exercise Yudhabhyas in Uttarakhand was in breach of India-China border stabilisation agreements of 1993 and 1996.

It is noteworthy that even after Chinese troops crossed the LAC, swarmed into the Indian side, and are today dictating where Indian soldiers may patrol in eastern Ladakh, India’s bilateral trade ties with China have soared and Chinese imports continue to flood the Indian market. The Chinese leadership knows it in its bones that India’s position on the boundary question — and its proclaimed resolve to restore status quo ante — cannot stand scrutiny so long as trade continues to flourish. Unless an economic cost is imposed, the sacrifice and bravery of our soldiers on the frontiers is likely to be in vain.