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Ambedkar’s prophecies about China’s expansionist mindset are proving right

Source : Indo-Asian News Service (IANS)

Ambedkar’s prophecies about China’s expansionist mindset are proving right
Photo Credit : IANS

New Delhi: B. R. Ambedkar was critical of Nehru’s friendly approach to Communist China and taking a non-alignment position preventing India to develop close ties with the democratic US.

Given the track record of China and its expansionist approach, Ambedkar had pointed out that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s policy of engagement with Communist China was a mistake, instead India could have better allied its foreign policy with the US as both the countries are democratic.

In retrospect, especially after the 1962 war and usurpation of Aksai Chin by China, Ambedkar’s prophecy was proven right.

While addressing students of Lucknow University in 1951, referring to China, Ambedkar said “India must choose between parliamentary democracy and Communist way of dictatorship and come to a final conclusion”.

He was opposed to Nehru’s approach of ‘Indo-China Bhai Bhai’ (India and China are brothers) and disagreed with India’s Tibet policy.

Ambedkar was an ardent realist and his assessment of Chinese intentions then is again proving right today.

He was aware of the limitations of an idealist foreign policy stance of India.

He espoused a pragmatic approach to realise the strategic goals of the country and solve the impending problems rather than endeavouring to realise an ideal geo-political order.

He was not even averse to using power and wit for maximising the strategic gains of the country and criticised Nehru’s patient waiting for evolution of a just global political order on the assumption that good sense would prevail among the world powers.

The great expert of political science and Constitution believed that there is no place for Panchsheel (five-fold ideals) in politics. According to him, India would have tried hard to win a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and a pragmatic Tibet policy.

Instead of relying on China, Ambedkar felt that close Indo-US relations premised on a natural affinity of democracies would lead to foreign assistance to India and alleviate the national burden.

Ambedkar did not just stop at that but also mooted an idea of forming a league of democracies in Asia and beyond to counter expansionism of Communist and other autocratic regimes.

Today if we look around, Ambedkar’s pragmatic foreign policy prophecies are proving right.

Ambedkar had warned against China’s expansionist approach. While China is using its military power for territorial expansionism in the neighbourhood, it is using its “deep pocket” nonchalantly to enhance its strategic outreach even if it means violation of the international laws and leads to debt trap for allies.

It was prophetic on his part to doubt Communist China’s intent to cooperate for development and strategic partnership. The Communist ideology of his times had an underlying element of military expansionism and it has not changed even today, especially in case of China.

Chinese expansionism continues in its neighbourhood unabated since it occupied Tibet in the early 1950s and it has not spared even smaller countries in the South and Central Asian neighbourhood.

It is infallible fact that China followed its policy of expansionism in Tibet, East Turkmenistan, Southern Mongolia and also Hong Kong and Taiwan in one way or the other.

While the whole world is watching with great concern China’s recent and explicit policy of expansionism in the South China Sea in contravention to international laws, its incursions in smaller neighbouring countries in South Asia remains less noticed.

Nepal and Bhutan are cases in point. Notwithstanding its claim about friendship with Nepal, China has successfully captured some parts of the former, by means of what is described as “salami slicing”. China has penetrated and occupied land in seven border districts of Nepal, including Dolakha, Gorkha, Darchula, Humla, Sindhupalchowk, Sanbhuwasabha and Rasuwa.

China has also not spared Bhutan; a small country in the North-East of India. A Chinese map published in 1951 showed territories in Bhutan, Nepal and Sikkim in China. Incursions by Chinese soldiers and Tibetan herdsmen have provoked tensions in Bhutan.

On July 29, 2017, Bhutan protested to China against the construction of a road in Doklam, a place at the meeting point of Bhutan, India and China. A stand-off between China and India has endured since then at the tri-junction adjacent to the Indian state of Sikkim after the Indian Army blocked the Chinese construction of a road what Bhutan and India considered Bhutanese territory.

The Foreign Policy magazine reported that “since 2015, a previously unnoticed network of roads, buildings and military outposts have been constructed deep in a sacred valley in Bhutan”.

Gyalpang, a 232-square mile area in Bhutan was claimed by China since the early 1980s. Chinese have been visiting this area, planting settlers, security personnel and military infrastructure.

China even tried to encroach the territories around its border with India, the latest being Chinese military’s forward movement in the Galwan Valley violating the 1996 agreement with India to maintain peace till border disputes are settled.

India has foiled Chinese bids of incursion in its Ladakh region.

China is also assiduously playing its expansionist games by creating false narratives and distortion of historical facts for legitimising its wrong claims on the territories of the neighbouring countries or justifying its blind pursuit of strategic interest in high seas and obfuscating its economic misdemeanours, especially violation and stealing of patents and acts of dumping apart from pushing the poor nations into unsustainable trade deficit and debt trap.

China’s desire to “liberate” what Mao called the five fingers of Tibet (Ladakh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh) is one such narrative which in reality is based on territorial outreach of Zhongnanhai-based regimes in antiquity when the modern states were neither born or delineated.

PRC’s claim that ‘Tibet has been a part of China for at least 900 years’ is completely inaccurate.

China often tries to belie the historical fact that Buddhism was born and grown up in India before it became popular in other parts of the world, including China.

This narrative is motivated by the desire to assert China as a cultural power since ancient times. The Chinese narrative about its other cultural movements may be right, but Buddhism was essentially a religion born and evolved in India as widely believed throughout the world.

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