Friday, September 2, 2016

China sends a veiled threat to India

China Tibet Online published a strange photo feature titled, Sacred mountains and lakes witness of China-India relationship.
The article sounds like a warning to India.
The first photo shows the historic Kingdom of Guge in Ngari (Western Tibet). The caption says: “When coming to issues regarding the borderlands between China and India, many people will think about ‘Southern Tibet’ which actually includes Tibet’s Nyingchi, and a part of Lhoka.”
Let us remember that China’s 'Southern Tibet' engulf the entire Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh.
The caption continues: “There is a place which maybe makes India ‘feel restless’, it is the Ngari Prefecture. Many actions that the Chinese government has taken in the Ngari can lead to India’s criticism.”
Why should India feel restless?
Why should India ‘criticizes’ China’s policy in Ngari, considering that it is one areas which has received less attention from Beijing …so far.
There is however no doubt that in the years to come, Lhasa (and Beijing) will develop Western Tibet on a large, bringing millions of tourists with the attendant infrastructure close to India’s borders.

The second picture reinforces the warning.
It shows and artillery regiment practicing in Ngari sub-sector of the Tibet Military Area Command (photo may have been taken somewhere else): “From what can be observed on the map, Ngari is an important gateway in China’s southwestern borderland region. The straight-line distance from the Zhada County [Tsamda Dzong] to India’s capital city of New Delhi is just 500 kilometers, which possesses a very important strategic positioning,” says the article.
It really sounds like a threat.

The third picture shows devotees in the Ganga. The caption says: “Apart from the fact of the close distance, India’s Ganges River, the river that is crucial to India’s life and passes through the most fertile lands and the most populated areas in India, originates from Ngari. In Tibetan language, the upper reaches of the Ganges River are called the “Majiazangbu” [Mabja Tsangpo] which means ‘the peacock river’ [from the peacock’s mouth]”.

Next image shows a statue taken in front of the Kunsha Airport in Ngari “which symbolizes the landmark shapes of the four rivers. There are four big famous rivers in the Ngari area which are respectively named as ‘the Horse-spouted River’ [Brahmaputra], ‘the Lion-spouted River’ [Indus], ‘the Elephant-spouted River’ [Sutlej] and ‘the Peacock River’ [Ganga], according to the shapes of the headwater mountains.”
What is the message for India?
There is no doubt that in controlling the rivers of Tibet, China has a great advantage on the downstream nations, India in particular.
India knows it and has to live with it, while reminding China from time to time, that these rivers are ‘shared’ resources, not belonging to the upstream State only.

Then a picture a hydro-power station on the Indus, near Ngari town; the article comments: “The four big rivers are the headwaters of China’s Yarlungzangbo [Yarlung Tsangpo or Brahmaputra] River as well as India’s Ganges River and Indus River. India used to criticize China constructing hydro-power stations.”
China does not ‘criticizes’ China, but just wants to be informed on what is going on ‘shared’ rivers, which are not the unique property of China.

The next photo depicts a beautiful highway in Ngari area: “As an important passageway in the southwestern border area, Ngari has been developing rapidly in recent years. The state has continuously established infrastructure in Ngari including transportation, hydro stations, communication etc.”
There is no doubt that in the next 5 years, China will concentrate its energies in developing Western Tibet with serious implications for the security of India’s borders. I already mentioned on the blog, the improvement of the NH219, the ‘Aksai Chin road’ connecting Western Tibet and Xinjiang, which has already started.
It seems to be ‘the priority’ for the Lhasa government, now lead by Wu Yingjie, but also for a restructured PLA.
Let us not forget that the entire Tibetan plateau is now under ONE Command, the Western Theater Command and the powers of the Tibet Military Command have been greatly enhanced in the recent months.

Then there is a photo of Mount Kailash. The caption notes: “The Chinese government always advocates for a good direction for the relationship between the two countries. China and India have a long friendship history especially with exchanges in the regard of Buddhism. ‘The sacred mountain’ within Ngari, Mount Kailash, is also considered to be at the center of the world by Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, the Tibetan Bon religion as well as ancient Jain.”

Amazingly, one gets to see Shiva, “Kailash is the resident place of the highest god, Shiva, who is regarded as the ‘destroying god in Hinduism. The third eye on the forehead of Shiva can spit out flames that turn everything on Earth into ashes.”
Though it is good that China admits that the ‘highest Indian god’ resides in Tibet/China, it is a bit surprising to see the masala, of military, infrastructure and religious pictures in the same article.
Then there is a photo of pilgrims performing the parikrama around the Kailash “always surrounded by white clouds which makes it very difficult to see its real look. Every year the faithful Buddhist pilgrims from India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibetan-inhabited areas in China come to the foot of the sacred mountain. They circle the mountain, knock their heads on the ground and pray, all is for the purpose of receiving providence and being able to see the mountain peak,” says the China Tibet Online.
Incidentally, the same article appeared in Chinese, but without the photos (at least the article I saw).

You can’t have Kailash without the Manasarovar; the website explains: “To the south of Mount Kailash, there is a sacred lake called Lake Manasarovar which is also considered as the resident place of gods by the religious followers. The lake water is formed by the melted snows of Mount Kailash which runs in different directions, therein forming the Horse-spouted River in the east [Brahmaputra], the Peacock-spouted River in the south [Ganga], the Elephant-spouted River [Sutlej] in the west and the Lion-spouted River in the north [Indus]."
The last picture shows Indian pilgrims at Nathu-la (Sikkim) on their way to the Holy Mountain, “after they circle Mount Kailash they will come to the lake to bath, and in this they purify their souls and wash away sins.”

This type masala (military, religion, diplomacy, etc.) is rare in the Chinese press.
The article definitively contains a veiled threat to India: China is going to develop the area on a mega scale, and India should not feel 'restless' about it and should not ‘criticize’ China.
The message is perhaps: India should feel restless.
Coincidentally, China Military Online announced that General Fan Changlong, the senior vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission (CMC) recently visited the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the Tibet Autonomous Region.
During his ‘inspection to frontier defense units’, he urged the PLA troops to resolutely safeguard the security and stability of China's western border areas. The general visited the troops stationed in Hotan, Ngari and Shigatse, “where he talked with soldiers, inspected defense facilities and logistics support conditions of the companies. “
Speaking to the troops, he said that with harsh natural conditions, the Western Theater Command is undertaking arduous and heavy tasks.”
He mentioned “the construction of installations and facilities for war preparation, training and living in frontier defense units should be accelerated."
He was accompanied by General Xu Fenlin, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department, Lt Gen Liu Lei, Political Commissar of PLA Army, and Gen Zhao Zongqi, commander of the Western Theater Command. Though not mentioned Lt Gen Xu Yong, the boss of the Tibet Military Command must have been around.
Is it another message for India?

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