It is not easy to stare China down. Despite all the speculation around the capabilities of the armed forces of China, one cannot ignore the fact that China is an economic and military superpower, and to get into a military confrontation with China is no mean business. But India did just that, and did it with confidence.
The trip of NSA Ajit Doval to China made headlines as people expected the stand-off would end immediately after his visit. But that didn’t happen. Yet, this was the visit that gave a clear glimpse of the fearlessness with which the ‘tiger’ was ready to deal with the ‘dragon’.
On July 27 in Beijing, China’s state councillor Yang Jiechi took a jab at Ajit Doval saying: “Is it your territory?” Such was the brazenness with which the Chinese had decided to deal with the Indians which was so consistent with the aggression their media had displayed. But Ajit Doval isn’t one to be fazed by such jibes.
The response of Ajit Doval was such: “Does every disputed territory become China’s by default?” Ouch! That must have hurt! In a short sentence, he showed China the mirror. He further emphasized the fact that Doklam was Bhutan’s territory and that on the basis of a treaty India was obliged to come to Bhutan’s assistance.
He categorically stated that China’s claims over Doklam were not yet settled with Bhutan, and that the only solution was for both the countries to pull back their troops.
This exchange was followed by several rounds of negotiations between the two sides in Beijing in which foreign secretary S Jaishankar and India’s ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale, attempted to find a solution.
But what were Prime Minsiter Modi’s views on the matter? The snap of smiling and confident Prime Minister Modi shaking hands with the Chinese President Xi Jinping with Chinese officials looking baffled on the sidelines of the G20 meeting is remembered by all. It is reported that PM Modi told Xi that the dispute shouldn’t escalate and that negotiations should be held at the NSA level. President Xi had agreed.
PM Modi’s stance was crystal clear – He stressed on cooling the stand-off emphasizing that differences shouldn’t turn to conflicts as both countries can gain from cooperation, but he also maintained that India will not let the status quo be changed by force. Only solution is through mutual understanding.
The fearlessness of Prime Minister Modi was evident in the fact that his government didn’t for once appear shaken despite the war-mongering by Chinese media and the conspicuous movement of missiles and tanks in Tibet. Had there been any other leader then he would have most probably rushed to negotiate with the Chinese.
Amidst all the confidence exuded by the government, there also was a clarity of mind. The instruction to the Army was clear – Do no fire a single bullet as we don’t want to spark a conflict, but if fired upon, do not hold back. The Army leadership and the soldiers on the ground must be applauded for following this instruction to the letter.
A sensible and gutsy leadership along with a military that is devoted the protection of the land, such a combination is rare! No wonder India’s enemies are worried.