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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 31, July 24, 2010

Unsolved Question Paper of S.M. Krishna

Sunday 25 July 2010, by Ajay Mohan


The Foreign Minister of India, Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna, went to China to reaffirm India’s strong bilateral relations with China. Both Asian giants very well understand they need each other. The External Affairs Minister went to China to re-energise Sino-Indian relations and remove all the dark shadows from the relationship. His going to China was to find the answers to some questions:

1. Would China accept India’s demands on the border issue?

2. Would China stop giving stapled visas to people hailing from J&K?

3. Would China stop “illegal” construction in Pakistan occupied Kashmir?

4. How would China balance its trade imbalance with India?

This was the first visit of S.M. Krishna to China since he became the External Affairs Minister. Basically this visit was to pave the way for normalisation of relations between the two countries. Because last year India was very conscious about the People’s Liberation Army’s intrusion in India’s periphery; it was reported in 2009 that almost 400 times had China intruded into the Indian territory.

The Chinese foreign policy is based on multilaterlism especially in the post-Cold War politics. The former Prime Minister of China, Li Peng, gave four cardinal principles to its foreign policy.

1) Peaceful co-existence and good neighbourly relations.

2) Promotion of mutually beneficial cooperation.

3) Non-interference in domestic affairs.

4) Respect for independence and sovereignty.

If we carefully look at these, Li Peng’s policies are totally contrary to China’s dealings with India. China’s border issues have been solved with the Central Asian nations; then why not India? That’s really a matter of concern.

S.M. Krishna also said India has some concerns about the boundary issue with China. If we look at the Chinese perception about the border issue they point to what had happened during the British colonial period when a British gentleman, Henry McMohan, signed a treaty with the local government of Tibet without consultation of the central authority. This is called the McMohan Line (that includes 90,000 square kilometres of disputed area). But India insists that this is an LAC (Line of Actual Control), the factual position of both sides. Whatever might have happened in the past, why is China trying to queer the pitch with India in the present scenario? As we know, China’s basic aim is development and without peace and stability that is not possible. Let us try to analyse the basic understanding of China behind its stand on the subject.

A. China doest not want India to become a big Asian power.

B. China wants to divert its mass attention to internal problems.

C. By exerting pressure on Indian authorities this helps to solve the border dispute as soon as possible.

D. In this way China once again establishes communist superiority over democracy.

China made the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (a regional organisation) with the help of Russia and the Central Asian countries (disintegrated parts of the Soviet Union) in 2001. This regional organisation helped to solve all disputes (including the border) with the Central Asian states. The main motive of this regional organisation was to remove “separatism, extremism and terrorism”. China shares almost 7000 kilometres of border with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Initially the name of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was Shanghai Five; at the first meeting of the Organisation, held in 1996, there were two important agreements signed—the first was strengthening confidence measures in the border areas and the second the deepening of military trust and reduction of the military in the border areas.

The main motive of China is peaceful relations with the Central Asian states. China is playing a very constructive role in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to avoid all future conflicts with Central Asia.

At the other end China shares a border with India that is 3439 km (4056 km as per the Ministry of Defence.) If we ponder deep a question naturally comes up: why did China make very solid commitments to solving the border disputes with Central Asia but not with India? This is perhaps because India is a soft target and defensive country not an aggressive state and the Central Asian states producing extremism in the Xinjiang province pose a threat. The western part of China is Xinjiang, province (inhabited by Turkic Islamic people) it was always influenced by Central Asian fundamentalist groups. Separatist leaders of Xinjiang thought that if the hard-core Soviet Union can break why not China?

Consequently, China made multilateral relations through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and tried to maintain stability in this region. In the case of India, China may be wanting to bargain over Indian territory. Because people exiled from Tibet are no threat to China, they are very religious. But the case of India is different. China knows very well that India is a soft target, to fullfill all its objectives it targets India. Basically it’s a “war of psychology”. China wants to build up pressure on India.
India is an emerging Asian power as well as close to America. These make it more important for China because it is a challenge to China’s superiority. After 9/11 the importance of India has increased. Following the nuclear deal with America India is all set to become a major power in Asia in its own right.

The internal problems of the two autonomous regions of China make it quite vulnerable. These are in Tibet and Xinjiang. A recent example of tension last year was during the Beijing Olympics. Tibet demonstrated all over the world against China. Demonstrators created disturbances in torch-relays in London, Paris and San Francisco. In 2009 the massacre in the Xinjiang province left almost 1000 people dead. These two autonomous regions always remained a big problem for China. They have been demanding dismissal of the regional Communist Parties.

The reason for Chinese incursion into India is that China wants to solve the border dispute in a quick manner. That is because the Chinese authorities believe that the Indian bureaucracy is not committed to solve the problem and is delaying the matter. Perhaps an intrusion is one way to solve the border depute. We can’t overlook this aspect.

Chinese think-tanks say that the war of 1962 was due to India’s misconception towards China. India attacked China because of America and Soviet Russia’s support. The Chinese spokesperson said once again that India was doing the same. But actually it was the clearly the Communist hegemonic attitude over democratic institutions which led to the aggravation of the basic problem.

Basically, its ‘Message-giving Strategy’ is that the relevance of Chinese communism is not over. To fulfill the Chinese strategy India is a good option to spreading the message all over the world and indirectly all democratic authorities. In this strategy China may came into conflict with India at a very minor level.

Now, our External Minister has come back to India but the result of the Chinese response is not very enthusiastic. We could not find out the answers; this is an unsolved question paper. S.M Krishna went to China; took many issues with him, but he returned to India almost empty-handed. What does it signify? To get the answer to the query we have to understand the basic perception of China towards India.


1. “Krishna to pay four-day visit to China from Monday”,

2. Jiao Feng and Liu Yi, “China and India: making up and making hay”,

3. S.M. Krishna to talk up India’s;concerns with China, http:// take-up-India-s-concerns-with china_1367013

4. Saibal Dasgupta, “Krishna Likely to discuss UNSC seat with Beijing during China visit”,

5. “Krishna to take up dual visa issue with Beijing”,


The author is a Ph.D scholar, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi

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