ON INDIA-CHINA BORDER DEVELOPMENTS AND OUR APPROACH - KN RAMACHANDRAN
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03 August 2020

When the standoff between the Indian and Chinese military started in the beginning of May, in its statement (Where Modi’s foreign policy is leading our country to? What is Communist approach towards the border questions?) the Central Committee of CPI(ML) Red Star explained the developments leading to yet another standoff along the LAC which is still not delineated on the ground, and called for immediate discussion at all levels to resolve the dispute. But instead of solving the problem, the military level discussion failed to reach a resolution and on 15th the clash took place at Galwan Valley between the two forces. After an urgent meeting of the CC on 17th June following the clash between Indian and Chinese troops in the disputed Galwan Valley area along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), in which 20 Indian jawans were killed, we expressed our heartfelt condolences to their families, and adopted a resolution calling for “Stop war mongering; We don’t want another border war; Settle border questions through bi-lateral discussions peacefully.”

We continued our campaign against war mongering, and for permanent settlement of the border problems with China by delineating the LAC and resolving other differences on the border.

But, BJP tried to create war hysteria, and a it launched campaign for Boycott China in line with the statements of Trump as part of the trade war between US and China. As reports of the corps commanders’ level discussions reaching stalemate again came out, the editorial of party organ, Red Star, on 1st of July again called for political level intervention at the topmost level to start dis-engagement of the forces. But, instead of taking steps to solve the standoffs at three places in eastern Ladakh through immediate diplomatic and political level discussions as we repeatedly called for, disturbing reports of mobilization of the military followed by the air force  continued on both sides started getting boosted by the media along with jingoistic statements from BJP leaders. On 3rd July, PM Modi visited Ladakh, and gave a speech exhorting the armed forces to defend our borders at any cost. Though it created an atmosphere of an imminent border clash as both sides raised claim for entire Galwan Valley, an analysis of his speech revealed that in spite of his sabre-ratttling, it was just another of his election speeches mainly intended to influence voters in MP, Himachal and Bihar, where elections are going to take place soon. As sabre-rattling from both sides continued, a very tense atmosphere was created by the media. In this situation, we again issued a statement on 5thJuly, reiterating our demand for political level discussions to ease the situation.

On 6th July morning we heard that discussion between Ajit Dugal of Modi’s PM’s secretariat and Chinese foreign minister took place, and based on the proposals arrived at in the corps commanders’ meeting earlier, both sides decided to withdraw 1.5 to 1.8 kms at the three disputed places along China-Ladakh border, creating a buffer-zone in between. The withdrawals started on 5thevening.

Following this temporary easing of tension, the war of words between BJP and Congress going on from the time the standoffs became more shrill, for one-upmanship, both sides trying to prove themselves more nationalistic. While India and China are accusing each other for intruding to their territory, BJP and Congress are engaged in a blame game to prove who compromised with “Chinese incursion” more. But both were concealing the fact that, neither Congress which was in power for about 4 -5 decades, nor BJP in power for six years earlier, nor during the last six years in power took any creative initiative for a permanent settlement of the disputes, even though standoffs were continuing.

According to the repeated statements of earlier UPA government, and present Modi government from 2014, though the LAC was adopted by both sides in I 993 in the Western Sector, while transferring the agreed line to the difficult terrain of Himalayas, there were many disputes about the actual controlled areas on the ground. “The entire Sino-Indian border (including the western LAC, the small undisputed section in the centre, and the McMahon Line in the east) is 4,056 km (2,520 mi) long and traverses one Indian union territoryLadakh, and four Indian states: Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. On the Chinese side, the line traverses the Tibet Autonomous Region(Wikipedia).  We are told, they are marked as disputed areas and both sides are trying to settle them through bi-lateral discussions at different levels. But, like UPA govt, earlier, Modi govt now also is not telling the people, about where the talks between both sides have reached or what are the disputes in the LAC as well as in the McMahon Line in Arunachal Pradesh region. We come to know about the disputes only when a standoff starts, or when Jingoistic statements are made, or when the defense budgets are steeply hiked.

Our consistent stand on the border dispute was clearly stated in the first Resolution: “Where Modi’s Foreign Policy is Leading India to?”: The border dispute is a leftover from the colonial times. A holistic approach should be worked out in continuation to the 1993 agreement on the LAC so that in all disputed areas along the 4056  kms of India-China border, it can be clearly delineated including deciding clear benchmarks taking the condition of the difficult terrain in to consideration. This agreement should include withdrawal of military of both sides to bases and deploying only border security forces to man the border. Only in his manner standoffs and skirmishes leading to unfortunate killing of jawans on both sides can be avoided. But, in the absence of such an agreement, even after the present truce for withdrawal both sides, it is not completed, at some points differences persist and the armed forces and Air Force have not started withdrawing from the area. Tension continues affecting the life of the civilians living in nearby areas. So we demand that initiative should be taken by Modi government to resolve the border disputes on a long term basis and for delineating the LAC on the ground.

Party’s accepted stand is that the LAC is still not delineated, and the standoffs have happened many times including presently in Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso and Gogra Hot Spring in the disputed land along it. Within the disputed land if any incursions take place, both sides accuse each other calling them intrusions or aggressions followed by standoffs, and for the first time after 45 years in the standoff at Galwan Valley from beginning of May, in the clash on15th June 20 jawans were killed. These are skirmishes within the disputed areas, where both sides have constructed roads and structures, where each side try to gain control of more areas, which the opposite side will characterize as an aggression to whip up jingoism as have happened repeatedly, and is again happening now, worsening the border dispute further. Our stand is that until a permanent solution acceptable to both sides is arrived at this situation will continue. So we do not call these movements by any side within the disputed area as an aggression or intrusion on the other country, but as a natural consequence of the present situation. We call for a permanent solution to the disputes. We appeal to people of India and China to put pressure on their governments to settle the disputed permanently so that the centuries old people to people relation can be strengthened further.

The border conflict is utilized, as always happens, by the Modi government to divert the attention of the people from the criminal acts of commission and omission in its handling of the fight against the Covid19 pandemic, from the acute distress it caused to crores of migrant workers and other sections of impoverished people, and from the economic crisis started in the pre-Covid days. As usual the burden of all these are thrown to their back. Besides, utilizing the tension on the border, Modi is carrying forward his militarization program, the burden of which also will come over the people.  On the whole, any increase in the tension on the border shall lead to further attacks on the masses of people. The socio-economic condition of the already impoverished masses shall be further weakened, leading them to more acute distress.

As far as the ruling class in any country is concerned they use war mongering against a created enemy, and jingoism is unleashed to hoodwink the masses. During the last 75 years after Second World War, though there were no World Wars, there were numerous local wars instigated mainly by the US imperialists to prolong their hegemony, repeatedly proving that imperialism means war, and so long as it exists, wars are inevitable. The same is the case with the junior partners of imperialist powers also. Similar to what is happening in J&K, the ruling classes on both sides, India and Pakistan, shall go on fighting making life hell both in IOK and POK, spending a major part of their revenue for it at the expense of people’s welfare. In order to cover up the truth and to win over even ordinary people to back them, jingoism, hate politics based on communalism and national chauvinism are instigated. Our sub-continent is one of the worst examples for it.  So, whether war is imminent or not, is not a point of our debate. As a result of extremely complicated conflict of several factors, it can break out any time; it is difficult to predict it. Our point should be how we can develop understanding about how the ruling class of our country have succeeded to deny the right of self determination to the peoples of J&K and Northeast, how they embittered relations with Pakistan to such a level that even cross-border trade and fighting locusts jointly which will benefit both peoples cannot be discussed, why relations with all other neighbouring countries are also worsening, while the country is opened to looting by the very same forces against whom we fought the independence struggle.

Under Modi this subservience went to the extent of organizing Namaste Trump, while we refuse to combat even Covid19 together with our neighbours. In such a situation, the US administration led by Trump and his allies are using the India-China border dispute like Hong Kong or South China Sea like issues as part of the inter imperialist contradiction and trade war between US and China. It has already happened with India banning 59Apps and cancelling many services and investments of China and has fully opened the country more for investments from US and other imperialist countries. So, the cardinal point is even when we are fighting the ever intensifying danger of Covid19, Modi government is creating war mongering and Trump could utilize it to prolong US hegemony and using it to win the November elections.

It is in this context, instead of getting satisfied with a passive stand, the Communist Revolutionaries should take a pro-active stand; an independent communist stand on this question. They should call for political settlement of all issues including border disputes with all neighbouring countries, which are continuing from colonial times, through bi-lateral discussions, using advanced scientific tools. They should oppose any armed conflict for settling border questions.  They should firmly oppose India’s alliance or strategic partnership with any imperialist country or bloc. In spite of the best efforts of the CRs and all progressive forces, still the border war breaks out, we should come out openly opposing it, while continuing the struggle for revolutionary transformation of the society.

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.