Ever since the Dalai Lama’s visit to Aruchal Pradesh, the unease within the Chinese administration seems to have increased appreciably. Chi was unhappy about the Dalai Lama having visited territory that Chi has always claimed to be a part of that country. It is no longer as though Chi has been laying claim only to a part of Aruchal Pradesh. Its present stance is that all of Aruchal Pradesh is actually what Chi calls South Tibet. The most immediate provocation to Beijing seems to be the recent iuguration of the Dhola-Sadia bridge med after Bhupen Hazarika, that links Aruchal Pradesh with Assam. Considering that the bridge is the longest one in India and considering that it now links up Aruchal Pradesh more closely to the rest of the country, Beijing could not ignore the latest development, particularly after its persistent claims on Aruchal Pradesh as being a part of Chi. So, on Monday Chi asked India to be “cautious” and to exercise “restraint” over building infrastructure in Aruchal Pradesh just days after Prime Minister rendra Modi had launched the country’s longest bridge linking Assam with Aruchal Pradesh. “We hope India adopts a cautious and restrained attitude on the issue before the fil settlement of the border issue with Chi to jointly control disputes, and safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry told IANS. “Chi’s position in the eastern section of the Sino-Indian border areas is consistent and clear,” a statement in Chinese said. “Chi and India should resolve territorial disputes through negotiations and consultations between the two countries,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
It does not call for any special alytical abilities to gauge the real reasons for Chi’s worry about India having built a bridge joining Aruchal Pradesh with Assam. The most important reason is that shortens the distance between Assam and Aruchal Pradesh by 165 km and cuts the travel time by about five hours. This makes for far greater speed at which the deployment of Indian troops can take place in Aruchal Pradesh near the Indo-Chi border. In addition, considering that the bridge can carry the heaviest of battle tanks, the improvement of India’s military prospects over what they were in 1962 should be quite obvious. In 1962, the ignominious defeat of Indian troops under Chinese attack was due both to the huge army that Chi was able to deploy very swiftly and the poor infrastructure that prevented the swift movement of Indian troops to the forward areas. Besides, our troops were also clad in uniform totally idequate for the extreme cold climate of the regions under attack. Chinese troops were able to enter Aruchal Pradesh in 1962 and thereafter to unilaterally declare a ceasefire after withdrawing troops to the McMahon Line. Today, the infrastructure is in much better shape, and our troops and battle equipment can reach the forward areas along the Indo-Chi border much faster. Of course, the issue of numerical strength would still remain a major deciding factor, should Chi contemplate another attack on India like the one of 1962. However, it is unlikely that Chi can repeat what it was able to do in 1962. Besides, what is significant is that India has adopted the strategy of completely ignoring the warnings that Beijing keeps issuing about territorial transgressions from time to time. Perhaps Chi is beginning to realize that such puerile warnings do not arouse the kind of fear that Chi expects. It would do well also to realize that it cannot dictate to us on our domestic issues.