Monday, February 7, 2011

‘India should be divided into 20 to 30 sovereign states’

INDIAN academics are up in arms over what they regard as provocative incitement of the country's demise by a Chinese essayist."China can dismember the so-called 'Indian Union' with one little move!" 

claimed the essay posted last week on China International Strategy Net, a patriotic website focused on strategic issues. The writer, under the pseudonym Zhanlue (strategy in Chinese), argued that India's sense of national unity was weak and Beijing's best option to remove an emerging rival and security threat would be to support separatist forces, like those in Assam, to bring about a collapse of the Indian federal state.

"There cannot be two suns in the sky," wrote Zhanlue. "China and India cannot really deal with each other harmoniously." The article suggested that India should be divided into 20 to 30 sovereign states.Such was the outcry about the article that the Indian government issued a statement reassuring the country that relations with China were calm.

"The article in question appears to be an expression of individual opinion and does not accord with the officially stated position of China on India-China relations conveyed to us on several occasions, including at the highest level, most recently by State Councillor Dai Bingguo during his visit to India last week," the foreign ministry in New Delhi said in a statement, referring to mutual pledges to respect territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The publication of the article coincided with talks between Beijing and New Delhi over disputed Himalayan border areas. Earlier this year, China held up funding for an Asian Development Bank (ADB) project in Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state claimed by China as "south Tibet". India has also banned some Chinese imports as it tries to protect its economy from the global downturn.

Officials in Beijing and Delhi hew to rival visions of the future, each seeing themselves as pursuing the more durable political and social model of development. The presumption in New Delhi is that China's unified, one-party state is bound to break down.

DS Rajan, director of the Chennai Centre for China Studies, brought the essay to his countrymen's attention. "It has generally been seen that China is speaking in two voices," he said. "Its diplomatic interlocutors have always shown understanding during their dealings with their Indian counterparts, but its selected media is pouring venom on India in their reporting."

China International Strategy Net is run by Kang Lingyi, who took part in hacking into US government websites in 1999 following US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Sites such as his are part of the Communist party's strategy to allow nationalism to grow to strengthen its political legitimacy. (FT Syndication Service)

An earlier IANS analysis adds: Written in Chinese, the article, 'If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up,' is published in the new edition of the website of the China International Institute for Strategic Studies (CIISS), an influential think tank that advises Beijing on global and strategic issues.According to D.S. Rajan, director of the Chennai Centre for China Studies, Chennai, Zhan Lue, the author of the article, argues that the 'so-called' Indian nation cannot be considered as one having existed in history as it relies primarily on Hindu religion for unity.

The article says that India could only be termed a 'Hindu religious state' that is based on caste exploitation and which is coming in the way of modernisation.

The writer goes on to argue that with these caste cleavages in mind, China in its own interest and the progress of whole of Asia should join forces with 'different nationalities' like Assamese, Tamils and Kashmiris and support them in establishing independent nation states of their own.

In particular, the article asks Beijing to support the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), a militant separatist group in the Indian northeast, to it achieve independence for Assam from India.

Furthermore, the article suggests that China can give political support to Bangladesh to encourage ethnic Bengalis in India get rid of 'Indian control' and unite with Bangladesh as one Bengali nation.If this is not possible, the creation of at least another free Bengali nation state as a friendly neighbour of Bangladesh would be desirable for the purpose of weakening India's expansion and threat aimed at forming a 'unified South Asia', the article argues.

The article contends that if the consciousness of 'nationalities' in India could be aroused, social reforms in South Asia can be achieved, the caste system can be eradicated and the region can march towards prosperity.The Chinese strategist suggests that to split India, China can seek support of friendly countries including Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan.

China should encourage Bangladesh to give a push to the independence of West Bengal and recover the 90,000 sq km territory in Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls Southern Tibet, says Rajan who has analysed the article for the Chennai-based think tank.'The write-up could not have been published without the permission of the Chinese authorities, but it is sure that Beijing will wash its hands out of this if the matter is taken up by New Delhi,' says Rajan.

'It has generally been seen that China is speaking in two voices - its diplomatic interlocutors have always shown understanding in their dealings with their Indian counterparts, but its media is pouring venom on India,' says Rajan.

Which one to believe is a question confronting the public opinion and even policy makers in India, Rajan says, adding that ignoring such an article will 'prove to be costly' for India.