Nearly a month and half back, in an incident between China and Bhutan, a well-equipped corps of the Chinese army started construction of a road in Doklam plateau on a land they claimed theirs. The Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) raised objection as they claimed Doklam belonged to Bhutan, pleaded for status quo as bilaterally committed and tried to resist, but without effect.
Stand-off leads to whipping up of war-psychosis by capitalist rulers of India and China
Reportedly at the request of the Bhutan government, the Indian government sent its armed force to that land, as if Bhutan was its protectorate. The Chinese government claimed that Indian army had trespassed into its territory. This led to a military stand-off between India and China. A few days later face-saving briefing in Delhi to envoys of other countries did not appear to have worked well for the Indian government. Thus the stand-off continued till date even after Bhutan, for whatever reasons, asked India to withdraw its military. In India, the political parties or forces even in opposition did not care to explain the situation clearly to people. Rather they joined a chorus against China or threw lukewarm views. None raised firmly why the Indian army should be withdrawn immediately. Rather the RSS-BJP, with their governmental power at the Centre, did not lose this opportunity to attempt whipping up national jingoism centring round this issue and thereby diverting people’s attention from the back-breaking thousand and one problems of their life.
The Chinese government, through its foreign ministry spokesmen or the party official media, did not fall back in being aggressive with their explosive rhetoric and unilateral action, such as deciding to construct a road in Doklam. They held India should not harbour any illusion of talks until Indian troops are withdrawn, making it a condition for withdrawal of their forces. They declared that the Chinese government is fully geared up for a long-term confrontation; and as if to prove the point, the Chinese government even moved huge additional military vehicles and equipments afresh into Tibet. The Chinese government threatened that it could detain Indian army men, if necessary could kill them too, and so on. As in India, the Chinese rulers too with their rhetoric against New Delhi, fomented national jingoism among their people who are plagued with endless problems which their present capitalist system, established through counter-revolution, is breeding.
Thus the capitalist governments of both India and China moved in such a manner that despite their lip-service to peaceful talks, their actions and words tended only to foment war psychosis in the region among the people. Apprehensions are expressed in different quarters that unless the dispute is resolved quickly and amicably through diplomatic route, it might trigger virulent escalation leading even to another border war between the two capitalist giants of this region, obviously leading to grave consequences for their own people as also people of smaller countries in the region.
Why border issues are kept alive by the governments?
In any attempt at getting at the crux of the problem and try resolving it, the first thing essential is putting an end to the apprehension of any war by withdrawing military. Then it needs to be realized that for any kind of disputed borders between neighbours, kept unresolved for long, there always remains chance of cropping up of differences in views and approaches, debates to lead to hot exchanges, verbal to even armed conflicts and ultimately full-scale border war. All these come up in sequel. So it is imperative that the task of delimitation-delineation-demarcation of borders between countries be urgently taken up through discussions-dialogues-negotiations conducted in an ambience of patience, calmness and coolness with an open mind. This is all the more necessary for land-locked countries which had been colonies or semi-colonies. More than often, their borders stand as fixed or drawn by their past imperialist rulers to serve their own interests. To people of the concerned countries, it is an unavoidable task to do away with any unwarranted misunderstanding or enmity among them which simply causes hindrance to developing their struggle against their respective exploitative capitalist rulers. Their rulers, on the contrary, tend to keep the border issues alive, to befool people with a war psychosis. And they use this war-psychosis to justify their stepping up of expenses on their respective military-industrial complex built with people’s money to buttress the agenda of militarization of economy, a last ditch attempt to somehow stimulate the gasping capitalist economy enmeshed in unsolvable market crisis generated by the system itself. This also exactly is the case with the two capitalist giants of Asia, i.e., India and China. None of the two governments are people’s governments. Rather, to befool the people with an issue adverse to their interests, the capitalist governments of both the countries have kept the border issues alive only to whip up occasional war psychosis which lubricate their expensive war machine feeding their economy and disrupt their peoples’ movements against the prevailing exploitative system. Doklam issue having cropped up between China and Bhutan did not warrant, in fact, any Indian involvement. And yet India got involved. In any case the border at Doklam is disputed yet, and has near or remote bearing with larger scale Sino- Indian border disputes which still persist.
Socialist China had a different approach from the obduracy of Indian government
The situation was not the same earlier. That the Sino-Indian border is still undelimited is known to all concerned. Centring round it a border war took place in 1962 between the newly independent capitalist Indian state, with Jawaharlal Nehru leading the Congress government as the then most trusted representative of the Indian monopolists, and People’s Republic of China making rapid strides towards full-fledged socialism led by the great leader Mao Zedong as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China. During the few years since the Bandung Conference in 1955 which preceded the war, the Chinese government, approaching it with the socialist ideology, made repeated attempts for bringing their Indian counterpart to the table for discussions and negotiations on the mutual boundary which had largely been unilaterally drawn by the past rulers, mainly the British imperialists in India and monarchic heads of small and weak hill kingdoms like Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. Three sectors, Akshai Chin in the west, Sikkim sector in the middle including Sikkim-Bhutan-China tri-junction to which Doklam belongs, and the McMahon Line in the east were particularly identified as points of disputes. Notwithstanding the mutual claims, socialist China then made it clear that it was ready for negotiations on all disputes, maintaining status quo till decision, for the sake of friendly relations it had with India. The Indian government initially joined the talks, but in no time reacted with pronouncements like the boundaries are ‘unchangeable’ and thus ‘not negotiable’ and the ‘traditional and customary boundaries have long existed’ ‘geographically and naturally settled for ages’, and so on. Added to this rigidity, the Indian army started forward patrolling and erection of border outposts even crossing the McMahon Line which was drawn unilaterally bt the British imperialists and which the Indian army had claimed to be their boundary, naturally drawing protest from the government of China. At one stage of this process, the Indian Prime Minister Nehru, the head of the Indian bourgeois government, ordered the Indian Army to launch offensive to ‘free our territory’ to implement India government’s claim and dragged the Indian people into frenzied war psychosis. When socialist China’s repeated appeals for withdrawal from those outposts and for immediately sitting for resolving all disputes through discussion fell on deaf ears, on 20 October 1962, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched attacks to dismantle those illegal outposts. They demolished those outposts built beyond the Line of Actual Control (LoAC). After four days of fighting, the PLA stopped advancing. Here it is pertinent to note that the Chinese PLA advanced only upto those positions which they regarded as the India-China border line. In a statement the government of socialist China proposed that both sides, first, affirm peaceful settlement through negotiations, second, agree to respect the LoAC as per 1959 position, that is before the conflict started, and third, withdraw their armed forces 20 kilometres from LoAC and disengage. Then within a few days, the Chinese government declared a unilateral ceasefire, and without retaining any captured territory, its frontier guards withdrew in all three, western, middle and eastern, sectors to positions 20 kilometres behind the 1959 LoAC, as they had proposed. In the whole course of events, the obduracy of the bourgeois government of India, obviously monitored by the ruling capitalist class, rather the monopolists, had no bearing upon people’s life, other than adding the burden of war and emergency upon the back-breaking load of extremely cruel capitalist exploitation.
Both Indian and Chinese governments step out with expansionist designs
Going by the arrangement for some time, the Indian government and its army went back to their earlier stance. Rather, Indian capitalism which assumed the character of imperialism long back and stricken with aggravating internal market crisis began investing their highly consolidated finance capital in smaller and weaker countries to exploit their market and resources. Parallel to it, its attitude towards the neighbours also changed. Towards the weaker neighbours, a trend of expansionist approach became glaring with days. The hill kingdom of Sikkim was annexed to the mainland. Bhutan became virtually a protectorate, with its sovereign status largely impaired by Indian approach. This big brother attitude also affected other smaller neighbours, who became apprehensive of Indian moves. In the present case, too, the attitude with which the Indian government jumped into the Bhutan-China dispute does not reflect anything but this big brotherly approach, whatever be Bhutan’s request, from which the latter finally retracted. However, the expansionist big-brotherly attitude of the Indian ruling class has developed with time into a craving for assuming the role of a regional superpower and in the context of Asia for containing China, the other Asian giant. For these, they are not hesitating to form military combination with the greatest war monger of the world, viz., the US imperialism and its accomplice Israel, as also Australia and Japan. But all this expansionist militarization of the rulers do not serve people’s interests in any way, other than consuming an astronomical figure for military expenses adding further burden upon people.
For the Chinese government, the approach it took in the past from its understanding of genuine communist internationalism, with initial patient and calm endeavour to deal with border disputes, proposing graceful retreat for both sides on fulfilment of the end of aggressiveness and finally following its own proposal line by line without retaining any occupied territory, all these were as expected from a socialist country under a leadership of the stature of great Mao Zedong. But with counter-revolution overwhelming this country since 1978 and its rulers acting virtually in the same way as those of imperialist countries, the Chinese capitalist government today presents a totally different face acting without principle or ethics both internally and in relation to the outer world.
Even after utilizing the newly built industrial infrastructure erected during those three decades of socialism and also retaining the banner of Communist Party or People’s Liberation Army as the brand names for hoodwinking people of their own country and the world, the capitalist China could not avert the ever-mounting crisis of capitalism in this era of decadent capitalism, that is imperialism. Huge concentration of capital and power in the hands of a few all powerful monopolists, fast growing terrible income disparity among people, ruthless eviction of peasants from their land to serve the monopolists, both domestic and foreign, concomitant ever mounting unemployment resulting in saddening rise in migrant labour population, abominable cultural crisis with uncontrollable increase in crime-corruption-coercion and above all, perceptibly phenomenal rise in military expenditure and power— these are among what characterizes China today. And all this, more so the military might is giving birth to the big-brother attitude in the present Chinese rulers. Acting as nothing but capitalist rulers, the ruling capitalists and their government hanker for assuming the role of a giant economic-military superpower to cow down weaker neighbours and to contain and combat more powerful ones, like India. Doklam incident reflects it nakedly.
Both Indian and Chinese people are gripped by acute crisis of their capitalist states
People of both India and China, thus face their primary task of struggling against their respective exploitative capitalist rule. As in China, exploited people of India are faced with concentration of capital and power in the hands of a few monopolists, terrible discrimination- disparity, abject deprivation of poverty-stricken people, ever increasing unemployment accompanied by large scale eviction of peasants from their land to make room for MNCs, endless stream of suicides of debt-trapped peasants – petty shop-owners, frantic unemployed youth falling victim to organized crimes, mindless horrid atrocities upon women and children, and so on. Lest people get united against this heartless system, the rulers are precipitating all kinds of divisiveness like communalism- casteism- ethnicity. At the same time, to keep people leashed to their designs, they are trying to whip up national jingoism, to fit in it with their aspiration for emerging as a superpower. For this purpose, livewire of border issues are thus mere tools to them to work with.
Common toiling masses of both India and China thus need to realize that attaining the status of economic-military superpower does not serve any interest of them, the exploited people. The handful ruling monopolists and their subservient agents are among those to earn benefit from it. And it is in their interest, that the rulers keep the border issues alive for creating the hype of war-psychosis to fuel their military industry complex, and whip up national jingoism to divert people’s attention from the real cause of their plight, the capitalism. The flexibility that existed during socialism in China have all gone up into the thin air of the present capitalist regime there. It is replaced pathetically by arrogance, muscle-flexing and high-handedness, typical of an aspirant imperialist superpower. Needless to say that the Indian bourgeois rulers have been moving to the same end for long .
Only vigilant people of India and China can save their countries from debacle
So, people of both the countries must see through the game the ruling class is playing. They should judge with reasons incidents like Doklam stand-off. It will then prompt them to stand firm and exert pressure of powerful opinion and movement upon their respective bourgeois governments so that the two capitalist-imperialist powers do not venture further with their imperialist expansionist designs or may end up in lethal military confrontation over disputes. Militaries can bring no solution, so they must be immediately withdwarn. People of the concerned countries need also to recognize that boundary problems, disputes on borders must be resolved once for all through discussions and negotiations in an ambience of patience-calmness and coolness. Even if it may take some time, there is no choice other than this. And for such a just and lasting solution to the border problems, be it between India and China, or Bhutan and China, or others, negotiations must be carried on, on the basis of history and geographic factors along and around the borders, relating those to the necessities of the reality, namely, administrative, economic, trade and commerce and other activities of the regions. Also to be taken into account are the mutual relationships of the people of the concerned countries around the border including their respective religions, customs, languages and such other features of culture and habits, that normally create deep-rooted sentiments and emotions etc. among other relevant criteria. These days no country can impose its decision on another. Only a rational, patient and prudent attempt through discussions and negotiations can lead to a solution. It requires vigilant pro-active people of concerned countries to put pressure upon their respective rulers to adopt this line. With respect to the present case of Doklam, urgent need is immediate withdrawal of military. It is also very important for India under bourgeois rulers to desist from interfering into the internal and external affairs of Bhutan under this or that plea