Saturday, August 26, 2017

Why China needs a history lesson on the 1890 Convention

No Historical Division in South Block
My article Why China needs a history lesson on the 1890 Convention appeared in Mail Today/Daily Mail (UK).

Here is the link...

India has won a battle on the ridge in western Bhutan by not allowing China to change the status quo and build a strategic road near the trijunction between Sikkim, Tibet and Bhutan.
But Delhi has lost other battles.
In 2003, China's Central Military Commission approved the concept of 'Three Warfares': one, the coordinated use of strategic psychological operations; two, overt and covert media manipulation; and three, legal warfare designed to manipulate strategies, defence policies, and perceptions of target audiences abroad.

While some in India are satisfied with preventing the construction of the road, the other aspects of the standoff should be looked into (and indeed India does have strong legal and historical arguments).
For example, Delhi has been unable to explain to the Indian public the background about the Chinese 'trick' regarding the 1890 Convention repeatedly quoted by the Chinese authorities.
The spokesperson of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs in Beijing vociferously managed to convince many that it was a valid treaty.
However, the fact that the main stakeholders, Tibet and Sikkim (and Bhutan for the trijunction), were not even consulted, made it an 'Imperial Treaty' with no validity (in any case, the survey of the trijunction was done several decades after the agreement was signed; so China can't justify 'fixing' the trijunction by quoting this treaty).
In Tibet: a Political History, Tibetan politician and historian Tsepon WD Shakabpa explained: 'In 1890 a convention was drawn up in Calcutta… without consulting the government of Tibet.
'The first article of the convention agreement defined the (northern) boundary between Tibet and Sikkim, and the second article recognised a British protectorate over Sikkim.'
Three years later, the trade regulations about increasing the trade facilities across the Sikkim-Tibet frontier were discussed: 'Again, the provisions of that agreement could not be enforced because Tibet had not been a party to the negotiations,' says Shakabpa.
The Convention of 1890 and the Trade Regulations of 1893 proved to be of no use to the British as Tibet never recognised them; this eventually led London to directly 'deal' with Lhasa and send the Younghusband expedition to Lhasa in 1904 and open the doors to organise the Tripartite Simla Convention in 1914, with British India, Tibet and China sitting on equal footing.
Today, Beijing speaks of 'renegotiating' the 1890 Convention; it would imply that the treaties signed with the Tibetans, particularly the Simla Convention and the border agreement (defining the McMahon Line) in 1914, would be scrapped and India would have no defined border with Tibet in the Northeast.
The Chinese have tried similar tricks earlier. One factor which has led to losing the battle of information is the lack of a Historical Division in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
In the early years after Independence, the Nehru government established a historical division with S Gopal (President Radhakrishan's son) as its first head.

Shivshankar Menon, the former foreign secretary and national security advisor, in a book review of Gopal's Collected Essays recollects: 'For reasons I find incredible and incomprehensible the Historical Division was wound up by MEA in the nineties… Some of our present difficulties may indeed be due to a lack of memory.'
Menon mentions the decision of the government of the doubling of MEA posts approved by the Cabinet in 2008 and says that he hopes that '(it) will be used to revive the ministry's memory and Historical Division.'
The former top Indian diplomat adds: 'As head of MEA's historical division from 1954 to 1966, Gopal led the Division's work not just on diplomatic history but on the intersection of policy and history, making significant contributions to both.' An interesting case in point is the 1960 negotiation of the 'officials'.
In April 1960, Nehru and Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Premier, had several meetings: 'The talks, however, did not resolve the differences that had arisen and the two Prime Ministers decided that officials of the two governments should examine the factual materials in the possession of the two governments in support of their stands,' said a joint communiqué.

Subsequently five rounds of talks were held between officials of India and China; the Indian side was headed by JS Mehta, director, China Division, and Gopal, the then Director of MEA's Historical Division.
The historian was assisted by knowledgeable colleagues such as TS Murty, G Narayana Rao and K Gopalachari.
The first two meetings were held in Peking, in late June and late July 1960; the next two in New Delhi, in late August and late September 1960, and the last in Rangoon in early December 1960.
The outcome is the Report of the Officials, still today a reference for any study on the Tibet-Indian border. The border issue could probably have been sorted out at that time.
Ironically, the Indian point of view was so well documented (by the historical division) that the MPs were in no mood to agree to a compromise solution; India and China probably lost a chance to solve the dispute.
Many examples of the usefulness of the Historical Division could be cited. Incidentally in 1960, the Chinese refused to discuss Tibet's border with Sikkim and Bhutan; Beijing had probably no clue where the trijunction was.
The point remains that a strong Historical Division in the MEA is a crying need today, like it was in the past.
When the time comes to draw lessons from the present confrontation, let us hope that the ministry realises that it is a worthwhile investment, even if it has to be 'outsourced' outside the service.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

For the CIA Batang La is the Trijunction

Enlargement of the CIA map below (1965)
Yesterday the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs' spokesperson Hua Chunying continued to rant about India's presence in Bhutan near the trijunction Tibet-Sikkim-Bhutan. Commenting on Home Minister Rajnath Singh's declaration that a solution to the standoff in Western Bhutan was in view, she said:"We hope that India can match its words with actions and immediately withdraw its troops and equipment that have encroached into Chinese territory."
She was speaking of an area which is Bhutanese territory.
But this did not stop Hua to reiterate that India should withdraw its troops: “the prerequisite and basis for resolving the incident is that India immediately and unconditionally withdraws its trespassing border troops and equipment to the Indian side of the boundary.”
She accused the Indian troops of having “illegally crossed the delimited boundary which has been recognized and abided by for nearly 130 years by both China and India. …The Dong Lang (Doklam) area is undisputed Chinese territory, noting that India's intrusion into Chinese territory under the pretext of China's road building lacks legal grounds and India's arguments are simply untenable,” said Hua who concluded: “if China feels that India's infrastructure construction in border areas threatens Chinese security, China can openly send troops to Indian territory to stop it.”
She further warned that if India's absurd logic is tolerated, international norms will be undermined.
High-pitched rhetoric is only to hide the fact that Beijing blundered in trying to unilaterally change the status quo and put Bhutan and India in front of a fait-accompli.
The area is not Chinese and has never been Chinese territory.
For decades Bhutan and India have patrolled this area (see my article The Truth from the Dragon's Mouth).
Interestingly, a map published by the CIA in 1965 shows clearly the reality the situation on the ground: Batang La is the trijunction.
The report which contained the map was released by the US agency in 2003. China never protested.

Monday, August 21, 2017

China plays the Water Card

The Communist tabloid, The Global Times yesterday published an article about China's delay in sharing with India the data of some Himalayan rivers, the Sutlej and the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra).
It says: “An Indian official's accusation that China halted sharing hydrological data of a river that flows from China to India has met with demands from Chinese observers that India should withdraw its troops from Chinese territory before pointing fingers at China on secondary issues.”
It then quotes Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs: “For this year, as far as I know, we have not received hydrological data from the Chinese side.”
The Global Times admits that “the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on trans-border rivers in 2013 and India has since been briefed on data on the river's upper reaches,” and points out that though there is no official explanation for “the alleged halt to the data sharing, but Chinese observers have pointed to the escalating tensions in Doklam.”
The two issues are clearly linked.

Quoting 'experts'
The mouthpiece of the Communist Party quotes Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences: “Although China is a responsible country, we can't fulfill our obligations to India when it shows no respect to our sovereignty.”
Hu said that China will not agree to carry out normal cooperation on hydrological data with India, unless it agrees to withdraw troops from Doklam.
Another so-called expert, Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the tabloid: “China agreed to share hydrological data with India to help it prevent hydrological disasters such as flooding and drought, and carry out cooperation on the development and utilization of hydrological resources.”
Zhao put squarely on India the fact that China has not provided the data: “India's move of bringing up the sharing of hydrological data will exacerbate the already existing conflict between China and India,” and he adds: “By infringing on China's sovereignty in Doklam, India has damaged the mutual trust the two neighbors used to enjoy, and China will be hard pressed to cooperate with India on other issues without the mutual trust.”

A division with Bangladesh
The Global Times is trying to create a division between India and Bangladesh writes; “Experts also suggested that India should take other country's interests into consideration when it comes to the exploitation of the Brahmaputra.”
It means that today, China can come back on any agreement/treaty signed after months and years of negotiations, just because it is ‘upset’.
It is not a way of functioning for a ‘normal’ State.

In August 2004, I wrote an article for about the "The Mysterious Tibetan Lake" on the Pareechu (river).
The danger of not sharing the data are clear.

The Mysterious Tibetan Lake
Less than two months ago, there was euphoria in the corridors of South Block as India 'celebrated' 50 years of the Panchsheel Agreement.
'It is not often that you find a former President, five Cabinet ministers, a chief minister, a lieutenant governor and over 20 ambassadors/high commissioners in one place. It happened at a function organised by External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh to release a special cover to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Panchsheel (five principles) at the banquet hall of the Ashoka Hotel,' said jubilant media reports.
The fact that the MEA officials had not checked that the given date did not correspond to the actual signing of the Panchsheel Agreement was a mere detail.
Who cares about such small things between eternal friends?
But surprisingly, it seems last month's friends cannot even help each other in time of distress.
The facts: an artificial lake at Pareechu in Tibet was created, according to the Chinese authorities, by seasonal landslides. Reports suggest that the water level in the lake has been increasing daily. Experts agree that if it bursts, there would be devastating effects in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh.
According to the Survey of India Institute at Dehra Dun, the lake has 114 million cubic metres of water. It is 60 metres deep and has a total area of 230 hectares. The depth was measured by the Institute with data supplied by the National Remote Sensing Agency in Hyderabad which had sent the latest satellite images of the water body to the Institute.
With thousands of human and animal lives under threat, a red alert was issued by the Himachal government, and armed and paramilitary forces were put on a war footing. The Rs 8,500 crore (Rs 8.5 billion) Nathpa Jhakri project which employs more than 1,000 people has been closed due to the alert.
But the matter is even more serious for national security . This area is one of the most strategic on the Indo-China border.
In August 2000, I visited Spiti Valley to attend a conference on Tibetan medicine. I was witness to the devastation caused by the bursting of another 'natural lake created by landslides.' The Kinnaur road, one the most sensitive roads, follows the Sutlej and the Tibetan border.
That year, not a single bridge was intact. To reach Kaza, the headquarters of Spiti Valley, we had to go the long way through Manali and Rothang Pass. Along the way, we kept crossing army vehicles ferrying portable bridges. Apart from the loss of human lives, the Border Roads Organisation had to completely rebuild the road and bridges.
The Tribune in Chandigarh questioned the cause of the floods: 'Even three days after the disaster, the mystery of the flash floods in the Sutlej, which wreaked havoc along its 200 km length in the state, remains unresolved… Experts are at a loss to understand where the huge mass of water came from.'
Imagine a 50 feet high wall of water descending into the gorges of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh! In a few hours, more than 100 peeople died, 120 km of a strategic highway (Chini sector) was washed away and 98 bridges destroyed.
A few months later, a detailed study carried out by ISRO scientists confirmed that the release of excess water accumulated in the Sutlej basin in Tibet had led to the flash floods.
Nearly a year later, India Today commented: 'While the satellite images remain classified, officials of the ministry of water resources indicate that these pictures show the presence of huge water bodies or lakes upstream in Sutlej and Siang river basins before the flash floods took place.'
'However, these lakes disappeared soon after the disaster struck Indian territory. This probably means that the Chinese had breached these water bodies as a result of which lakhs of cusecs of water were released into the Sutlej and Siang river basins,' India Today wrote.
When I mentioned this to Indian 'experts' I was told that 'natural' landslides were happening everywhere and there was no big deal.
Four years later, the 'natural' process has again occurred. This time the Chinese government has informed the Government of India about the impeding mishap, Beijing has remained silent on New Delhi's request to send a fact-finding team to Tibet.
Delhi announced that 'the visit of a four-member technical team -- comprising a mining expert, two members from the Central Water Commission and an expert from the Nathpa hydel project -- to the site has been put off.'
The experts were supposed to have inspected the site and worked with their Chinese counterparts to blast some portions of the lake in order to release the pressure and control the release of the water.
Asked about the steps Beijing has taking to address New Delhi's concerns, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said: 'According to information available from the Tibet Autonomous Region, we know that landslides in surrounding hills caused clogging of the course of a river and China has promptly informed the Indian side of the situation.'
Kong refused to answer when asked if China has given its clearance for the trip to Tibet of the four Indian experts.
Where is the so-called friendship when such a huge area is facing an impeding catastrophe and hundred of human lives and thousands of crores of rupees of damage are at stake?
All the Indian external affairs ministry spokesman could say was: 'We are awaiting clearance from the Chinese side.'
This can only lend to suspicion that the 'natural' lake might not in fact be so 'natural', as ISRO discovered in 2000. At that time, the Chinese had purposely blasted the lake without informing the Indian authorities. But, of course, this was before the reiterating of the Great Principles.
One cannot help thinking that in 1960, when tensions between India and Pakistan were high, the two nations found the wisdom and the courage to sign the Indus Water Treaty. Some may say it was not an ideal document, but at least it had the merit of simply being in existence.
Why can't India and China sign a similar comprehensive treaty today?
Today Beijing swears by a new friendship with India.
'Of course, behind India's initiative of conciliation is its assertive national aspirations,' China Daily said in an August 10 editorial titled 'Sino-Indian ties warming up.' But it also acknowledged that 'India has put forward a multi-faceted diplomacy, of which repairing relations with China is an important part.'
'In the past, India has considered China as its potential threat and main strategic rival. As the gap between China and India in comprehensive national strength widens, India has come to realise that it was a smart move to conciliate with rather than alienate China,' the editorial said.
India does not want to alienate China, but Beijing should also adopt conciliation with Delhi at least on the Himalayan river issue, if not on the border question.
The only thing which is lacking is goodwill.
One can recall the floods two years ago in the southern province of Hunan in China. A swollen Dongting Lake threatened to engulf millions of people. Newspaper reports mentioned 8.4 million people being affected by the floods. At that time the Chinese authorities evacuated 600,000 people in immediate danger.
'More than a million people were piling sandbags and checking for breaches in hundreds of miles of embankments around Dongting that protect 10 million people living in a region of flat, fertile farmland,' said the official news agency, Xinhua.
Why can't the same thing be done in Tibet? I am sure the Government of India would be ready to send manpower and engineers to help.
The Sutlej, like the Indus or the Brahmaputra does not belong to China alone, there are hundreds of millions of stake-holders in South Asia, who also have (through their respective governments) a stake.
One of the problems is that Indian officials never dare to speak up for fear of 'jeopardising' the warming up or the border talks.
Nothing will happen to the border for the next few years, but today the lives of thousands are in danger.
The MEA owes it to the nation to speak up strongly.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

1890 Treaty: Beijing’s trick of yesterday and today

China would like to forget this map
My article 1890 Treaty: Beijing’s trick of yesterday and today appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer

Here is the link...

The Chinese trick of hammering the 1890 Convention is very old. But it is mistaken. Beijing cannot justify ‘fixing' the tri-junction by quoting this ‘unequal' Treaty, when nobody knew where this place ‘Gipmochi' was

Two months into the confrontation with China near the tri-junction in between Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan, the time has come to look at the lessons New Delhi can learn from the stand-off which may continue for several months. There is no doubt that India has won a battle; there will be no Chinese road on the ridge and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may never be able to peep over into the Siliguri corridor.
Indeed, why should India back out from a legally and militarily strong position? Some in Beijing have started admitting the same, though the Government continues to shout that China’s territory has been invaded. Beijing’s violent reaction is due to internal factors such as the 90th anniversary of the PLA and the forthcoming change of leadership in the Communist Party of China (CPC).
One battle has, however, been lost by New Delhi — it has been unable to explain to the public some historical facts. The lack of a historical division in the Ministry of External Affairs has particularly ill-served India, letting Beijing have a field day. New Delhi did not point out to the Indian (and foreign) media, the Chinese trick about the 1890 Convention (known as the Convention of March 17, 1890, between Great Britain and China, relating to Sikkim and Tibet).
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Beijing, as well the tabloid media in the Middle Kingdom, vociferously managed to convince the Indian correspondents in Beijing that it was a valid treaty. However, the fact that the main stakeholders — Tibet and Sikkim (and Bhutan for the tri-junction) — were not even consulted, makes it an ‘imperial treaty’ with no validity.
In his book, Tibet: A Political History, Tsepon WD Shakabpa, the Tibetan politician and famous historian explained, “In 1890, a Convention was drawn up in Calcutta by Lord Lansdowne, the Governor-General of India and Sheng-t’ai, the manchu amban from Lhasa, without consulting the Government of Tibet. The first article of the Convention agreement defined the boundary between Tibet and Sikkim, and the second article recognised a British protectorate over Sikkim, which gave them exclusive control over the internal administration and the foreign relations of that country. There was, however, no corresponding acknowledgment on the part of the British of China’s authority over Tibet.”
Shakabpa continues: “It is also possible that because of the brief clash between the Tibetans and the British at Lungthur (in northern Sikkim in 1888), the manchus were afraid that Tibet and Britain might enter into direct negotiations; they therefore, agreed to a Convention to forestall such a possibility.”
Three years later, trade regulations were discussed over increasing the trade facilities across the Sikkim-Tibet frontier: “Again, the provisions of that agreement could not be enforced because Tibet had not been a party to the negotiations. It is surprising that the British entered into a second agreement with the Manchus, when they knew from the results of the first agreement that there was no way of putting the agreement into effect,” says Shakabpa.
The Convention of 1890 and the Trade Regulations of 1893 proved in practice to be of not the slightest use to the British as Tibet never recognised them; this eventually led London to directly ‘deal’ with Lhasa and send the Younghusband expedition to Lhasa in 1904 and open the doors to organise the tripartite Simla Convention in 1914, with British India, Tibet and China sitting on equal footing.
Today, Beijing speaks of ‘renegotiating’ the 1890 Convention. It would consequently imply that the ‘equal’ treaties signed with the Tibetans, particularly the Simla Convention and the border agreement (defining the McMahon Line) in 1914, would be scrapped and India would have no more border with Tibet in the North-East. The Chinese have tried similar tricks earlier.
In October 1948, the Nationalist Government in Nanjing sent a communication to London, notifying His Majesty’s Government of termination of Tibetan Trade Regulations of 1908. New Delhi was quick to see the game.
In 1943, London had reconsidered its attitude towards China’s suzerainty over Tibet. On August 8, Anthony Eden, Prime Minister of Great Britain, had given Dr TV Soong an informal memorandum containing the British policy towards Tibet: “Since the Chinese Revolution of 1911, when Chinese forces were withdrawn from Tibet, Tibet has enjoyed de facto independence. It has ever since regarded itself as in practice completely autonomous and has opposed Chinese attempts to reassert control.”
In 1948, by referring to the 1908 Treaty, China wanted to erase the 1914 Simla Convention from the books of history, omitting that the 1908 accord was made void by the 1914 agreement. The Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi immediately cabled London that it was aware that “the Tibetan Trade Regulations of 1908 were specifically repealed by Article VII of Simla Convention of 1914.”
Lhasa was then in control of Tibet’s foreign policy; Tibetans could travel from and to India without visa or registration. It was not the case for the Chinese who, when they transited from Tibet to China via India needed a visa.
Hugh Richardson, who represented India in Tibet in the first years after Independence, cited an example: “The Chinese officer at Lhasa has approached the Tibetan Government with a request for help and the Indian mission has asked whether the Tibetan Government agree to the entry of this party.”
A long debate started in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi on the policy that ought to be followed by independent India vis-à-vis Tibet.
An official pointed out “we only recognise their (Chinese) suzerainty contingent on their genuine recognition of Tibetan autonomy as it has existed for the last 36 years.”
But Nanjing was trying the same old trick: To find a ‘solution’ to the Tibet issue without reference to Tibet; it had worked in 1890. The Tibetan trade regulations of 1908 provided that the regulations would be in force for a period of 10 years and if not denounced. By trying to ‘renew’ it, the Chinese were trying to bypass the 1914 agreement. An official in the Ministry of External Affairs wrote that the Chinese assumed that “the Chinese are emphatic in ignoring the Simla Convention of 1914 of which no mention is made in their note. The trade regulations of 1908 were dead letter for long.”
It was a pretext to force Delhi to forget the 1914 Convention (and thereby the border agreement). However, the diplomats in South Block were not new to Chinese diplomatic niceties, the Foreign Secretary himself having served several years in Nanjing. Had the Indian Ministry accepted the Chinese contention, India and Tibet would have lost the only demarcated border (ie the McMahon Line). When it hammers on the 1890 Convention, Beijing is trying the same old ploy today.
Incidentally, the survey of the tri-junction was done several decades after the 1890 agreement was signed; China can’t justify ‘fixing’ the tri-junction by quoting this ‘unequal’ treaty, when nobody knew where this place ‘Gipmochi’ was.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The First Chinese Retaliations

The Fingers
It looks like China has started retaliating against India.
Apart from the cancellation of the Kailash Yatra, China has taken some new measures to show 'how upset they are' with India's reaction to the construction of a road on Bhutanese territory.

The Pangong Tso Clash
China can’t do much at the trijunction between Sikkim, Tibet and Bhutan, but Beijing has now started retaliating in other areas; while the confrontation continues near Doka La in Bhutan, some Chinese troops tried to occupy an area in Ladakh on the shores of the Pangong Tso.
According to India Today, the incident took place on Tuesday morning and lasted for about half-an-hour; later both sides pulled back: “Indian and Chinese forces had a brief face-off in the north bank of Pangong lake in Ladakh.”
A military source told the publication: “The Chinese patrols lost their way due to bad weather conditions but it ended up with heated exchanges between the two sides resulting in stone pelting as well that caused minor injuries to people on both sides.”
It shows the mounting tension following the Doklam confrontation.
Apparently the incident took place between Finger Four and Finger Five on the Pangong Tso (lake): “India claims the area till Finger Eight but controls and dominates up to Finger Four. The situation was brought under control after thirty minutes of face-off, when both sides held their banners indicating either side to pull back to their respective positions,” says the HT.
The South China Morning Post reported from Hong Kong: “Indian and Chinese soldiers were involved in an altercation in the western Himalayas …further raising tensions between the two countries which are already locked in a two-month stand-off in another part of the disputed border. …The two sides have frequently accused each other of intrusions into each other’s territories, but clashes are rare.”
Some reports say that the Chinese soldiers carried iron rods and stones, and in the melee there were minor injuries on both sides.

Cancellation of the Border Personnel Meetings
Another sign that the tension is mounting: Border Personnel Meetings (BPM) were to be held like every August 15 at five places along the border. This year they did not take place.
India and China hold BPM at five points: Daulat Beg Oldie and Chusul in Ladakh, Kibithoo and Bumla in Arunachal Pradesh and Nathu La in Sikkim.
Though invited the Chinese officials did not turn up. It shows that Beijing has not digested as yet the Doklam incident and the fact that India stopped them building a road.
Some Indian media reported that the meetings could not be held as China’s PLA officials did not respond to communications from the Indian Army.

The Hand-in-Hand joint military exercises
The fate of the annual India-China Hand-in-Hand joint military drill hangs also in balance as India has not received any word from the Chinese side, which is supposed to host the exercise this year.
Since 2007, when it was first held, an Initial Planning Conference (IPC) is held in the host country in June-July but so far there has been a ‘studied silence’ from Beijing, says The Economic Times which cites a source in the Army: “The IPC takes place in the country where the exercise would be held. We sent a message to the Chinese side but there was no response. It should have happened latest but July end, but the IPC never took place.”
They will probably no joint exercises this year.

No Rivers’ flow data
Perhaps more serious, it appears that China had stopped sending the routine information on river water flow of the Sutlej and Brahamaputra.
According to The Hindustan Times: “At a time when major rivers in Himachal Pradesh are in spate due to heavy rain, lack of information from China on water inflow from Pareechu rivulet that meanders through the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) has prompted the Central Water Commission (CWC) to seek intervention of the ministry of water resources.”
It had been agreed that India and China would annually renew the protocol on sharing information on two major rivers — Brahmaputra and Sutlej: “But China has reportedly stopped sharing information with India on water inflow in Pareechu. The lake across the Pareechu river, which was measured the size of 20 football grounds, burst in 2005 causing major flooding in the Sutlej. Gushing waters had washed away the strategic Hindustan-Tibet road, National Highway-22 at a number of places, 10 bridges and 11 ropeways. About 15 motorable bridges and 8 jeepable roads and footbridges were damaged on the 10-km stretch of NH-22 between Wangtoo in Kinnaur and Samdoh in Lahaul Spiti districts.”
The HT’s report continues: “No loss of life was reported as the army and civil authorities anticipating the breach in glacial lake in Pareechu had evacuated 5,000 people along the Sutlej. Total losses caused due to flooding had been pegged at Rs 800 crore.”
The Pareechu river originates in India, then it meanders into Tibet and then merges into the Sutlej near Sumdoh (a border post in India). A glacial lake on Pareechu formed behind a landslide dam in 2004; on June 26, 2005, it busted provoking Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF). After the 2005 GLOF, India and China signed a protocol for sharing information on the water level from Pareechu and the Sutlej.
China has apparently stop sharing information about the water inflow, which makes it dangerous for the local population in Kinnaur.
Senior scientific officer, SS Randhawa told the HT: “The Himachal government constantly monitors the water flow in Pareechu through its department of science technology. But so far the department has been unable to get clear satellite images. Last time, we checked images on July 8 and there was no danger at that time. We use remote sensing technology to monitor the water bodies in the river catchment. But we have been unable to get clear images in the last one week as there are thick clouds over the catchment area.”
I have earlier mentioned the long article in The Global Times about the diversion of the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra.
Another warning that Beijing has started retaliating for to the ‘loss’ of its road in Bhutan?
China is indeed playing a dangerous game.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Diverting the Indus ... or the Yarlung Tsangpo to Xinjiang

In January 2015, I wrote on this blog about the proposal of diverting the Indus towards Xinjiang.
Nobody took it seriously.
Now a new proposal has emerged: to divert the Yarlung Tsangpo to Xinjiang.
According to The Global Times: “Scholars mull project to divert water from Tibet to arid Xinjiang”.
The Party's newspaper adds: “Policy-makers have left plan stranded citing unfeasibility”.
The tabloid explains: “Around 20 scholars met outside Urumqi in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region over the last weekend of July, and discussed the feasibility of diverting water from the heights of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to Xinjiang's lowland plains, one of the attendees revealed.”
Ren Qunluo, professor at the Xinjiang University of Finance and Economics is quoted as saying: “Water from rivers such as the Yarlung Zangbo River can help turn the vast deserts and arid lands into oasis and farmlands, alleviate population pressure in the east, as well as reduce flood risks in the counties through which the river travels downstream,"
Ren told The Global Times: “Xinjiang has 1.1 million square kilometers of plains, equal in size to all the plains in the country's east. But less than 70,000 square kilometers are arable due to a shortage of water. If all these plains are greened, another China will have been created."
The same old story.
China is obsessed with these diversion schemes (and it conveniently comes at a time of the confrontation with India at the trijunction Bhutan-Tibet-Sikkim).
Incidentally, the Indian journalists 'invited' by the Ministry if Foreign Affairs in Beijing should have asked more details about the new scheme.
The mouthpiece of the Party continues: “”The dream of massive water diversions from soaking-wet Southwest China to the thirsty north has been on the minds of engineers and scholars for decades. But some say this dream could be a nightmare of environmental damage, and these concerns mean the plateau-to-plain project has never been approved.”
India and Bangladesh are not mentioned in the scheme.
The Global Times makes three points.
  • Experts want the government to reconsider diverting water from Tibet to parched northern regions
  • They claim the project will help stimulate the world economy and create a "second China" in the region's arid plains
  • Disagreements remain strong due to the huge cost and possible environmental damage
However the report says: "[The] pro-diversion experts are now trying to rally support for the idea."
Information Warfare is going on...  full swing.

Here is my old post of January 2015.

On Christmas Day, The New York Times reported: “Within a few days, water that has traveled more than 800 miles for two weeks in one of the world’s most ambitious, and controversial, engineering projects is expected to begin flowing through Beijing faucets.”
The objective of the scheme is to bring water from upper reaches of the Han River, a tributary of the Yangtze, through the central route of the South-to-North Water Diversion project, the second of three routes planned to transfer water from China’s wet south to the dry north. Once fully functional, the Central Diversion is expected to provide a third of the capital’s water needs.
The project is estimated at 80 billion U.S. dollars, says Xinhua, adding: “The completion of the water scheme marked major progress in the nation's enormous south-to-north water diversion project, the largest of its kind in the world.”
The official news agency boasts: “It is another engineering achievement by the Chinese,” quoting the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the world's longest man-made river, opened in the 13th century for transporting grain.
The pro and the cons of the present project will continue to be debated in the months and years to come; in the meanwhile, some researchers in China have thought of another smaller ‘pilot’ project: to divert the Indus river towards Xinjiang. A detailed report on the scheme is posted by a blogger on the website
Beijing will argue that this new project is merely the product of the fertile brain of some freelance scientists, and that it has ‘nothing to do with the government’.
You may ask, what is this According to Wikipedia: “ is a science virtual community and science blog,” launched by Science Times Media Group (STMG) and supported by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China “with the mission of establishing a global Chinese science community.”
Since January 2007, more than 5,000 scientists and graduate students have posted their papers on ScienceNet. The editorial board of ScienceNet says that it has been ranking first among Chinese science websites.
The blogger quotes Chinese researchers who argue that the other planned 'diversions' require extremely complicated construction plans, large investments, long building periods and face a lot of engineering problems due to the complexity of the issues involved (I would add, and 'displacing millions of people'). It makes these projects difficult to undertake, while a small-scale, with low investment and a quickly realizable scheme, could be an ideal pilot project.
The ‘researchers’ propose to add a South Western segment to the Western Diversion Route (not yet started), which is the third part of the South-to-North Water Diversion project. It would involve the diversion of the waters from the Indus river in Western Tibet (before it enters Ladakh) towards the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang. According to the authors, the scheme would meet the requirements of a ‘pilot’ scheme.
In a summary, the ‘scientists’ explain that the water diversion project referred to in their paper could be called “the South Western section of Western Route Project”; water could be taken from the Tibetan Plateau in the West and brought by gravity to the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang. The text describes the preliminary survey of the South Western part of the Western Route Project. The size of the diversion program and a brief description of China’s northwest after the transfer of the Indus’ water, are given. The main conclusion is that the diversion will help maintaining long-term stability in Xinjiang. The paper explains why and suggests deepening the research before an early implementation of the South Western section.
According to the ‘researchers’, the diversion of the Indus could bring ten benefits to China:
  • It could increase the total amount of water resources in the Tarim Basin, which is located in the hinterland of Taklimakan Desert and suffers from important sand dune mobility. In this highly arid region, which receives low precipitations, water is extremely valuable
  • The diversion could increase the local hydropower capacity. Water would flow from the high Qinghai-Tibet plateau, at an elevation of over 3,000 [in fact 4,000] meters and at the receiving end, water would be at only 1,500 meters above sea level.
  • Once this section is completed, the water could create an oasis in the desert. The Western section would transform an entire region into an oasis; it would further bring a great return on the investment.
  • Once the project is fully implemented, the total amount of water resources locally available could greatly increase; it could provide a substantial increase in the amount of hydroelectric power; the desert could become an oasis, it could improve the ecological environment, which in turn could promote local economic development of the region and the living standards of the local people.
  • According to some scientific hypotheses, the water brought by the diversion could also increase precipitations in the region.
  • The research says that the new oasis could in turn ‘curb global warming’ [sic]. If the global warming argument is indeed correct, say the ‘scientists’, the South Western section could increase the rainfall in China; this countermeasure could help curb global warming for the entire humanity; this is why the diversion project must be able to get the global support and backing of most countries [what about India?]. China can then get a substantial increase in the local precipitation; the desert in northwest [Xinjiang] would disappear; the desert would become an oasis which would be able to grow food and have power plants; humans would be able to reduce the need for fossil fuels; after additional diversion oasis would absorb large amounts of greenhouse gases each year, thus it would achieve the goal of curbing global warming.
What an argument! But that is not all:
  • It could contribute to China’s food and energy security. After the diversion, the desert turned-oasis could increase the country's arable land for China to contribute to the world food security.
  • The western development could make a significant contribution by reducing regional disparities. China's population distribution is unbalanced; the development gap between China and western regions and other regions is too large; it has been extremely detrimental to the country's development.
And now the cherry on the cake:
  • The diversion could strengthen China's actual control of Aksai Chin, and help to resolve the territorial dispute. Sino-Indian border has not been formally delimited in the Aksai Chin and Pangong Lake areas; there are some territorial disputes [with India]. The water diversion project, through Aksai Chin, could help the actual control of this region; the implementation of the project could also help to resolve the territorial dispute [with India].
  • Finally, the project could promote national unity and maintain long-term stability of Xinjiang. This, according to the authors, is the main benefit of the South Western section: the long-term stability of Xinjiang.
This ‘easy’ pilot project does not, of course, take into account what the neighbours (including China’s all-weather friend, Pakistan) would have to say.
That may not make the pilot project so simple after all!
The question is, while Beijing is very quick to remove internet content which contests its rule, why is such a crazy and highly objectionable project allowed to be posted on a semi-governmental website?
Similarly, the website of the Yellow River Conservancy Commission of China’s Ministry of Water Resources has a 50-page report on the diversion of the Brahmaputra, and though Beijing denies any bad intention, the project remains on the ‘official’ website.
How can we trust China?

Some of my previous posts on the subject

Monday, August 7, 2017

Chinese propaganda: yesterday ...and today

Indian POWs in Tibet with blaring loudspeaker
I have often mentioned on this blog, The Three Warfares, more particularly the Propaganda/Information Warfare.
Today China believes that it has mastered the Art and that it has demonstrated it in brainwashing many Indian journalists in the wake of the Doka La confrontation, near the trijunction between Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim.
This may have been true during the first weeks in view of the of the paucity of information (and knowledge) from the Indian side.
Propaganda (or disinformation) has always taken an important place for the survival of a totalitarian regime. It continues today, whether it is with North Korea or China.
During the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict, the Indian POWs in Tibet were subject to the heavy Maoist propaganda machine. Unfortunately in most (not to say all) of the cases, it did not work.
Today, the Chinese are probably attempting to brainwash the Indian soldiers on the ridge on the heights of the trijunction in Bhutan.
If they do, they are again bound to face a failure once again…
The Indian jawans is just not brainwashable!

Here is the account of a young captain who was taken to Tibet as POW war in October 1962. He recalls his days in the camp in the Yarlung Valley.
Note that I had earlier posted another account of the Indian POWs in Tibet on this blog.

Initially, Capts [captains]and below were housed together with the JCOs [Junior Commissioned Officers] in one of the village tenements. The Chinese discovered that their political propaganda was effectively countered by some of us whenever their officers came to us for “friendly chats”. In the event, it had no effect on any of our JCOs and the result was that when we met the NCOs [Non-Commissioned Officers] at mealtimes (twice daily) the same was effectively countered by all of us for ensuring that they are not wrongly influenced. This realization to set in, took the Chinese authorities almost one month. It was them that all eight of us were shifted to another hut. Although this reduced our contact time with the JCOs, we nevertheless still met twice daily at the Langar [Common kitchen] and made it a point to counter some of the blatant lies which the Chinese were trying to spread. Somehow the Chinese had come to the firm conclusion that if they could mete out exemplary punishment to one of us, the articulation of opposing viewpoints to their propaganda would either stop or would be stifled to a low murmur. This was the background to the drama enacted in late Dec’62 when the whole camp was gathered at one place (excluding Fd Offrs [Field Officers]) and a charge sheet was read out against me, in Chinese duty translated by Lt Chou in English and another interpreter in Hindi, “for trying to …our dissension in the cordial relations between Chinese and Indian People”. Accordingly, “criminal Capt …is awarded 30 days solitary confinement.” As in case of our SCM [Summary Court Martial], there was a small squad standing nearby which handcuffed the prisoner and escorted me away to the place of confinement.
This event had a salutary effect on everyone for a day or two, as I learnt later. I was kept in a dark room with no light, but twice a day a sentry used to leave the food plate inside. Lt Thong visited me once every day and tried to persuade me to officially apologise for being an enemy of Chinese-Indian friendly relations and to connect my ways for future. He promised that as soon as I accepted my mistake, the rest of my punishment would be commuted. While it was quite depressing for the first two days I found that regular recitation of Japji Sahib [Sikh mantra recitation] , the only “Path” (Prayer) I know by heart helped me retain my spirit. By the third day I found myself walking inside that dingy room which was diagonally 7 ½ paces, practically throughout my waking hours, and made me much more determined than on the first two days. The plan to effect and escape from the PW camp was fortified in my mind over the next two to three days, while still in solitary confinement.
On the fifth day, Lt Thong and the Company Commander (Fatty) came to my cell at about mid-day and said that the camp Commandant had decided to take a lenient view of my crime, and in order to promote age-old friendly relations between the two peoples, has decided to release me unconditionally. It is only when I rejoined my other colleagues that I learnt of the counterproductive effect my punishment had on the men of my Para Troop, officers/JCOs and NCOs of our company. All of them expressed open resentment to the Chinese interpreters who used to visit them over the day for “friendly chat”. 2/Lt [Second Lieutenant] A, my Gun Position Officer, and 2/Lt B. of 2 Rajput were extremely vocal in telling all the JCOs and NCOs at meal times to display their unhappiness to the Chinese on their action. A. also told me that, you had also forcefully told the Chinese that it was a folly on their part to have tried to somehow tame me. I think Thong or Chou conceded to him that they did not realize that I would not break after one or two days and agree to apologise publicly. Had my prayers not given me the required strength, I could have crumbled and agreed to accept my mistake. Perhaps, they would then have repeated the drama effecting my release in front of everyone. It is due to the strong support from my seniors like you, my own colleagues and JCOs/men of our company and the OR of my Troop who were in another sub unit who made the Chinese rethink and release me unconditionally on the fifth day.
On returning to my colleagues, I took only two of them in confidence to join me in planning escape from the PW camp. While I did think of including 2/Lt D. as well but he was slightly handicapped due to his injury. Thus, it was only A., B. and self who went ahead and collected the Tibetan dresses and footwear from the locals in exchange for our cigarette rations. On the days when we were on water-duty for the Company Langar it was easy for us to contact the residents living in the village en route to the stream from where the water was collected. When I came to seek your blessings and approval in Feb 63, rations of Sampa [tsampa or barley flour] for one month or so plus apparel and footwear had already been mustered and one guide arranged. He was keen to flee Tibet and was the main service whom I had befriended for the execution of our plan. As I look back, I cannot help realizing that the success quotient of the plan conceived by us was very low. Your matured advice, based on far more experience, was invaluable in touring down our bubbling spirit to teach the Chinese a lesson. Within three weeks of my meeting you for the plan approval, the Chinese announcement of repatriation of PWs commencing was made. I think the date was 2 Mar 63. While the senior Officers left soon thereafter, ours was the last batch to be handed over on 25 May at Bumla. We left the camp on 22 May and reached the handing over venue on the third afternoon. Throughout our return journey by road all three of us were carefully analyzing the plan we had made. While we realized even then that our chances of getting across successfully were not high, passage of years and experience leaves, no room for doubt that we did not have even a 10% chance of success. It was only the daring spirit of youth which propelled us to seriously go-ahead with a plan with such a low probability of success...

Saturday, August 5, 2017

How can Xi speak of a 'Chinese Dream' and a 'Peaceful Rise' while threatening those who dare oppose China?

My Article How can Xi speak of a 'Chinese Dream' and a 'Peaceful Rise' while threatening those who dare oppose China? appeared in The Mail Daily (UK)

Here is the link...

“You shall be unswervingly loyal to the absolute leadership that the party has over the army, heed the call of the party, follow the party,” asserted Chairman Xi Jinping, while officiating during a mega parade at the Zhurihe Combined Tactics Training Base in Inner Mongolia on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Images showed a martial Chinese President, also Chairman of the Central Military Commission, by far the most powerful organization in the Middle Kingdom, dressed in combat fatigues, driving in an open jeep and inspecting some 12,000 combat troops.
Xi told the PLA to be prepared for the battle and to defeat ‘all enemies that dare to offend’ China. Was India, who had dared to challenge the mighty PLA when Beijing tried to change the status-quo at the trijunction between Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim, targeted?
According to The South China Morning Post, “Xi didn’t specify any target”, though the defence ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang stated that the parade was not targeted at China’s ‘surrounding situation’, it was in accordance with the yearly training schedule.”
Zhurihe is China’s largest and most advanced military base, sometimes compared to Fort Irwin National Training Centre in the US. It was the first time that such a military parade was held outside Tiananmen Square in Beijing, “it differed from previous events in its heavy emphasis on combat and field operations,” noted the Hong Kong newspaper.
It was indeed a huge display of military power; Xinhua reported that some 40 per cent of the weapons on show had never before been seen by the public.
Xi told the troops: “You shall extend the battleground to wherever the party points towards. …The world under heaven is not at peace, and peace needs safeguarding.” Xi added: “We are closer than at any time in history to realising China’s great dream of national revitalisation, and building a strong people’s army.”

A Contradiction
There is a contradiction here, which might become a serious problem for Xi.
Can Xi speak of a ‘Chinese Dream’ and a ‘Peaceful Rise’ while threatening to go to war against those who dare to oppose China?
A war would undoubtedly take China 50 years back in its development.
The PLA in the meantime continues to take giant steps towards the future.
At the beginning of 2016, Beijing undertook in-depth reforms of its defence forces, aiming at a far wider 'integration'.
Apart from the traditional three 'services'; the PLA's Army, Navy and Air Force, the PLA has now a Rocket Force (formerly, the second artillery) and a Strategic Support Force (SSF) which could be a game changer.
It could be a critical organisation for dominance in the space, cyber, and electromagnetic domains. It is certainly the force to watch.

China is looking into the future

China's military modernisation will include capabilities to attack, at long ranges, adversary forces that might deploy or operate within the Western Pacific Ocean.
An array of weapons, for example different types of missiles, such as the new HQ-19 missile, to be specifically used for intercepting ballistic missiles in mid-course, are being developed. China is also working on an unmanned combat aerial vehicle named the 'Black Sword', which could one day compete with the best US drones.
But there are other aspects that one can’t ignore.

Not all is rosy in China today.

According to a blog on The People’s Daily website, on July 26 and 27, the days before Xi Jinping met the National Security Advisors of the BRICS, a seminar was held in Beijing; the purpose was to ‘unify the understanding among Party members’.
Chinascope, a website which publishes translations and analysis of the Chinese media, pointed out that the meeting was different from the ones held during the previous years: “First, the seminar location was changed from the Party School to the Jing Xi Hotel”. This hotel, closed to foreigners, is located near the Military Museum and Defense Ministry and is run by the PLA’s General Staff Department. Why was the location changed? Is Xi more ‘secured’ under the PLA wings?
It was also different due to the large participation of Party cadres; it included the seven members of the Political Standing Committee, provincial Party bosses, top leaders from central government, representatives of the People’s Congress, the judiciary and of course the PLA.
A telling detail: no paper and no pens were seen on the tables.
In his speech, Xi noted that he was ‘aware of the challenges’ and remarked: “the world is undergoing a dramatic change while China is facing serious challenges. …How do we deal with the complexity of the world and gain control on the international stage? How can we seize the opportunity and break through the conflicts and risks as China is entering a critical development stage? How can the party overcome the tests and risks and continue to be the leading party of the country? … These are the important questions that the party members are responsible for answering.”
During the next few days, the leadership will move to the cooler seaside resort of Behaide. It does not mean that the atmosphere will be less steamy.
The battle for the 19th Congress seems to have started.
The PLA is bound to play an important role in the power struggle at the top of the Party. We will have to wait a few months to witness in which direction the smoke goes. In the meantime, the PLA, 90 years after its Foundation, seems very much behind its Chairman.
The confrontation in Doka La should be seen in this perspective too.

The Great Game over Bhutan - a few articles

The Doka La Confrontation (BBC in Hindi)

After independence, India chose to be represented in Lhasa by a British ICS officer, Hugh Richardson; the Scot was Indian Mission-in-Charge from 1947 to 1950. On June 15, 1949, in a communication addressed to the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi, he suggested that India might consider occupying Chumbi Valley up to Phari ‘in an extreme emergency.’ The Chumbi Valley is the highly strategic ‘finger’ sandwiched between Bhutan and Sikkim.
Sixteen months later, Chinese troops invaded Eastern Tibet and Harishwar Dayal, who had replaced another Britisher as the Political Officer in Sikkim, made again the same suggestion: “[Richardon’s] suggestion was NOT favoured by Government of India at the time. It was however proposed as a purely defensive measure and with NO aggressive intention. An attack on Sikkim or Bhutan would call for defensive military operations by the Government of India,” he wrote to Nehru.

Read on…

India, China, Tibet and the curious case of the missing Sikkim Papers (The Mail Today, DailyO and Daily Mail - UK)

The present standoff at the trijunction between Sikkim, Tibet and Bhutan, on the southern tip of the Chumbi, is a worrying development. While recently addressing the foreign diplomats in Delhi, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar rightly stated that China has been ‘unusually aggressive and articulate’.
Beijing seems to have only one argument, i.e. the 1890 Convention between the British and the Manchus, conveniently forgetting several other agreements, particularly the 1893 Trade Regulations (1890 twin accord) which allowed India to open a trade mart in Yatung in the Chumbi Valley.

Read on...

The Truth from the Dragon's Mouth

Recently a book Spying Against India (Chinese Military Intelligence from 1962 to 2012) Volume 1, written by one Ben Keiler (probably a nom de plume) was published by Amazon Kindle.
It is difficult to verify the veracity of the content.
However it complements the above map that I posted a few weeks ago on this blog (China ties to alter the status quo in Bhutan).
One Chapter of the book is entitled: The Western Territories of Bhutan
It explains that the above map is a copy of Top Secret Chinese Intelligence map.
(it copy was probably published to hide the embarrassing information about the Indian and Bhutanese camps inside the area today claimed by China)
The book publishes the originals along the translation of the accompanying texts and provides its own comments.

 Read on...

Chinese propaganda: yesterday ...and today

I have often mentioned on this blog, The Three Warfares, more particularly the Propaganda/Information Warfare.
Today China believes that it has mastered the Art and that it has demonstrated it in brainwashing many Indian journalists in the wake of the Doka La confrontation, near the trijunction between Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim.
This may have been true during the first weeks in view of the of the paucity of information (and knowledge) from the Indian side.
Propaganda (or disinformation) has always taken an important place for the survival of a totalitarian regime. It continues today, whether it is with North Korea or China.

Read on…

Does India need to be invaded by China to wake up? (

Very few in India have heard of Taksing.
It is the last village on the Tibet (China)-Arunachal Pradesh border, and the first village likely to be invaded if Beijing retaliates.
Scarily, it takes jawans THREE days of walking to reach Taksing.
In all the noise surrounding the Doklam confrontation, Claude Arpi focuses on a crucial issue that has hardly been covered -- the construction of roads for the armed forces and the local population to reach the most remote border posts.
Very few incidents have triggered so many comments as the confrontation at the trijunction between Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim.
On June 16, 2017, Chinese troops entered a stretch of land at the southern tip of the Chumbi Valley to build a road …on Bhutanese territory.
They were stopped by the Indian Army.

Read on...

The Great Game over Sikkim

The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been vociferously trying to convince the Indian correspondents in Beijing about the 1890 Convention (known as Convention of March 17, 1890 between Great Britain and China relating to Sikkim and Tibet).
However, Beijing forgot to mention about the two main stakeholders, Tibet and Sikkim, who were not even consulted by the 'Great Imperial Powers'.
It is interesting to have the views of Tsepon WD Shakabpa, the Tibetan politician and famous historian.
In his Tibet: a Political History, he explained : « In 1890 a convention was drawn up in Calcutta by Lord Lansdowne, the Governor-General of India and Sheng-t'ai, the Manchu Amban from Lhasa, without consulting the government of Tibet. The first article of the convention agreement defined the boundary between Tibet and Sikkim, and the second article recognized a British protectorate over Sikkim, which gave them exclusive control over the internal administration and the foreign relations of that country.

Read on...

China promotes ...the Indian tribes: a dangerous move (The Pioneer)

The fact that China is promoting ‘Indian culture’ is dangerous. The Union Government has been ignorant about the issue. But for how long? India could lose a crucial battle on its borders… without a shot being fired
Watching Chairman Xi Jinping officiating during the mega parade at the Zhurihe Combined Tactics Training Base in Inner Mongolia on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), this writer was struck by the Chinese martial air of the Chinese President driving in an open jeep, dressed in combat fatigue.
He later ordered the PLA to be prepared for the battle and to defeat ‘all enemies that dare offend’ his country. Was India, who had dared to challenge the mighty PLA when Beijing tried to change the status quo at the tri-junction between Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim, targeted? It’s difficult to say.
It was indeed a huge display of military power; Chinese state agencies reported that some 40 per cent of the weapons on show had never before been seen by the public. Xi, who is also the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, by far the most powerful organisation in the Middle Kingdom, inspected 12,000 combat troops.

 Read on...

When China refuses to talk about Bhutan and Sikkim boundaries.

Yesterday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Geng Shuang stated that the border in Sikkim was well demarcated, according to the 1890 Convention between Great Britain and China and Doka La, the area of contention ‘belongs to China’.
He added that Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru endorsed the 1890 Sino-British Treaty on Sikkim in a letter to Zhou Enlai in 1959.
Geng also said that successive Indian governments have also endorsed this.
This far from the truth.

Read on...

China tries to alter the status quo in Bhutan

China has recently tried to change the status quo in the Doklam area of the Bhutan-Tibet border.
On June 29, the Royal Government of Bhutan, which had held 24 rounds of talks with China so far, had to officially clarify :
On 16th June 2017, the Chinese Army started constructing a motorable road from Dokola in the Doklam area towards the Bhutan Army camp at Zompelri. Boundary talks are ongoing between Bhutan and China and we have written agreements of 1988 and 1998 stating that the two sides agree to maintain peace and tranquility in their border areas pending a final settlement on the boundary question, and to maintain status quo on the boundary as before March 1959. The agreements also state that the two sides will refrain from taking unilateral action, or use of force, to change the status quo of the boundary.

Read on... 

A World War over some sheeps and a few yaks?

As I mentioned in my last post, ‘differences of perceptions’ on the Tibet-Sikkim-Bhutan and the Sikkim-Tibet borders are not new.
China used fully these differences during the Indo-Pakistan conflict of 1965, threatening to interfere in the War and opening a new front in Sikkim.
This has been well-documented in the Notes, Memoranda and Letters Exchanged between the Government of India and China (known as White Papers on China) published by the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi.
Today, I post an extract of White Paper No. XII (pertaining to January 1965 to February 1966). The Note relates to an incident which took place in Delhi on September 24, 1965.
An Indian politician (and later Prime Minister of India) took a herd of 800 goats to the Chinese Embassy in Delhi to send a message to Beijing: is it worth starting a war over some pastures in the Himalaya or because some herds had crossed an unmarked line?

Read on....

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Truth from the Dragon's Mouth

Recently a book Spying Against India (Chinese Military Intelligence from 1962 to 2012) Volume 1, written by one Ben Keiler (probably a nom de plume) was published by Amazon Kindle.
It is difficult to verify the veracity of the content.
However it complements the above map that I posted a few weeks ago on this blog (China ties to alter the status quo in Bhutan).

One Chapter of the book is entitled: The Western Territories of Bhutan
It explains that the above map is a copy of Top Secret Chinese Intelligence map.
(it copy was probably published to hide the embarrassing information about the Indian and Bhutanese camps inside the area today claimed by China)
The book publishes the originals along the translation of the accompanying texts and provides its own comments.

For example, this Chinese Intelligence map provides an overview of the disputed areas in Western Bhutan with detailed textual explanations.
The map is said to have been compiled by Chinese intelligence some 30 years ago.
The original maps with the positions of the Bhutanese and Indian Armies were obviously not published in China, as they contradict China's version of the historical background of the present standoff with India near the trijunction.

Here are details of the above map.
The present standoff between the Chinese and Indian Army is taking place in the Southern part of the map.

The legend for the map is interesting. It says:
The top text shows what the Chinese consider the international border.
The second text is what India and Bhutan consider as the location of the border.
The third is the “illegal” McMahon Line (in Eastern Bhutan - not shown on this particular map)
The fact that this area is shown in a separate colour (green), as well as the captions clearly demonstrates that the area was already disputed 30 years ago.
Today, China pretends that the area has always been Chinese territory!

This map marked Document 67 shows that the Royal Army of Bhutan and the Indian Army were in control of the area in the 1980s.
Not a single post occupied by the Chinese Army is marked.
The PLA was nowhere to be seen.

Here is the legend for the above map :
Blue circle: Permanent base of the Royal Bhutan Army

Blue triangle outlined: Observation post of the Royal Bhutan Army

Blue triangle: Checkpoint of the Royal Bhutan Army

Light brown circle: Indian army base.
Here is the translation of text on the Chinese text accompanying the Intelligence map (as well as it 'edited' reproduction; see map on the top of this post - top most text).
Luling (also called Ru-ling) area is located on southeast of the Rinchengang town, in the lower part of the Dro-mo [Lower Chumbi Valley].
The area includes some of the small rivers in the east of Dromo Machu, Charthang river and Luling river.
The size of the area is around 340 sq. km and there are more than 40 grasslands (pastures). The source [of income] comes from the products of the forest; it is pretty marvelous.
According to some historical documents, before 1843 China put border stone pillars on the hill of Ha-la, which is the source of the Luling River. [Nobody has ever heard of these 'pillars'; my comment].
The western part of the Ha-la Mountain’s range was in the past the pastoral area of the nomads of the Dro-mo [Chumbi].
In the year of 1954, the Bhutanese army permanently settled at Charthang for whole year. There were around 100 troops occupying the area.
In 1960, the Bhutanese soldiers came again and set up an Observation Post at Ha-rar with more than 20 soldiers. There were sent from the pasture ground of Charthang.
In 1973, the people of the Dro-mo [Chumbi] restored their control over the border area and managed to send their animals grazing like before in the upland region of Lang-ma.
Moreover, in 1975, we [China] established a forest park in the Langma’s upland.
In 1983, we [China] a set up a civil administration.
Now the soldiers and nomads of Bhutan do not enter the lower part of Lang-ma’s upland grassland by crossing the Phu-tren pass as before.
These facts contradict the Chinese propaganda: Beijing never maintained any army base, customs office or other government function in that area until 1983.
Further, according to the book Spying Against India:"If we go to the map [marked] as Doc 67 [above], we see the 1987 reality as reported by Chinese military intelligence: there are four bases by the Bhutanese army and one by the Indian army in that area alone. Those bases are located along the border and there is not one single Chinese base."
The author of the book further comments:
First no Tibetan from Yatung [in Chumbi Valley] or any other Chinese lived there or even went there. After some 20 years after the arrival of the Chinese army in Yatung, they start to send local Tibetans as ‘nomads’ with their cattle into that area to stake a claim. If those Tibetans are not expelled for some ten years, they open a small civil administration post which could be only an unmarked tent operated during summer. Again if that civil administration station is not demolished they start to make propaganda to claim this area has been Chinese territory since ancient times.
Perhaps more interesting is the Chinese description of the place where the conflict is presently going on. Here is the translation of the text:
Tunglang (Doklang) area is located in the south, moreover the valley of Tunglang river is an area of more than 100 sq. km.
Northern parts of that area are plain with lots of lakes and there are more than 30 small and big grassland.
Southeast are mostly forest with steep mountains and deep valley.
According to the historical documents, Tunglang grassland is the summer pastoral area of the people of Lower Dro-mo [Lower Chumbi] region and the army of India and Bhutan both are not entering into the Tung lang area. They just observed to the nomads and people from a big stone.
From the year of 1975, China’s armies went around very carefully, almost once a every year.
Generally after we (Chinese) reached near to the Lhamasi through Shismo, we [China] returned back.
In 1983, the boundary line of our observation was expanded towards the south and later it was getting nearer to the Observation Post of the Bhutanese army in Dung-Tsona in South of Trae grassland.
The author of the book rightly notes: "The names and areas of those disputed territories are not identical in China and Bhutan. Therefore if the Chinese talk about Tonglang it’s not identical in size and geographical location to what the Bhutanese and Indians called Doklam."
He points out at the contradiction in the Chinese Intelligence documents: "a second and different Chinese story appears is in Doc 67 where Chinese intelligence marks one base of the Bhutanese army clearly inside that very area and two more at the border."
See the legend above.

The book Spying Against India says:
In Doc 70, we can see the deployment of Bhutanese and Indian army units in western Bhutan in 1987. The first Battalion of the Bhutanese army defends the area close to the border with Sikkim.
In that location they make sure the Chinese army cannot take any shortcut through Bhutanese territory and cut-off and encircle the Indian border defense in the northern areas of Sikkim.
The 2nd, 3rd and 5th battalions were positioned to defend the area between Yatung and the capital Thimphu.
The 6th battalion serves as reserve force and can be deployed in any direction. The Indian troops are intermixed with the Royal Army of Bhutan to strengthen the defense but also to make sure the Chinese army cannot enter any area of Bhutan without fighting the Indian Army. This mix makes sure the Chinese cannot only target the Bhutanese army and grab more land without killing Indian soldiers.
This was in 1987.
All this shows that the situation is far more complicated than the one showed in the recent Chinese statement.
In other words, the PLA has blundered in entering Indian territory, a place that a few decades ago, China did claim as its own. Today,  at best for Beijing, it is today 'disputed'.

It also shows the Chinese way of claiming new territories.
They first send grazers. If not objected, the grazers would visit every year.
Then a small patrol is sent.
The following year a tent (representing the Civil Administration) is planted.
After a few years, it becomes "Chinese territory administrated by China since immemorial times".