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The Chinese strategy of ‘resettlement villages’ aims at colonising LAC


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The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has surprised the world many times with its skullduggery. India too has fallen prey to the Chinese perfidy in 1962, further in 2020. The latest Chinese trickery is all about the sinister design to settle Uyghurs, Tibetans, and the Gorkhas along the nearly 3,500 km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) from the western sector to the eastern sector through ‘resettlement villages’ or border defence villages (Xiaokang). China’s central government has planned several hundred resettlement villages along its border with various countries, but the main target at present is India.

The Chinese policy of resettling Tibetans along the India-China border in Tibet, especially along the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh, is not a new phenomenon. The Chinese are pursuing, even forcing Tibetans on their battlefront with India. During an interaction with some villagers from Koyul village near Hot Spring in Ladakh Union Territory, which has been one of the friction points along the India-Tibet border, this author found an authentic local source of information in 2018 about the establishment of resettlement villages.

Similarly, there are reports in international news media that China is mulling over forcing the Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups to settle down along Xinjiang’s border with Ladakh as part of its specific plan to checkmate the overarching Indian presence along the Xinjiang-Ladakh part of LAC following the Galwan clashes on June 20, 2020. The Chinese may claim this strategy as a counterbalance against what the Indian public, media, intelligentsia, and defence veterans have been vociferously calling for since the Galwan incident—the use of the “Uyghur card” to put the Chinese on the back foot.

But what is more disturbing and a matter of grave concern is the apprehension in the Indian psyche that the brave Gorkhas, who have been the mainstay of the Indian military for decades, may be used as a shield along the LAC, especially on the eastern flank. China wants to take advantage of the issues related to Gorkhas’s unhappiness and resentment after the Indian government announced the Agniveer scheme for a short stint in the Indian Army and the subsequent announcement by the Nepal government in 2022 not allowing the Nepalese citizens, especially Gorkhas, to join the Indian defence establishment. This is a golden opportunity for China to fish in the troubled waters. It will not fail to inject venom in the Gorkhas’ minds to show hatred for India and use them against India.

No Chinese plan is devised without a strategy. The Chinese pretext in this context is that both Tibetans and Gorkhas, being acclimatised to the inclement weather and high altitude, will be a better bet than the mainland Han Chinese soldiers for mountainous warfare with India. The Chinese strategy is to provoke a war between Indian soldiers and the Tibetans, or Gorkhas, deployed along the border as the first line of defence. China will not leave any stone unturned to instigate India deliberately, as it has been doing for the last seven decades, for minor skirmishes that can turn into full-fledged war. If any war occurs in the future along the LAC, no Han Chinese soldier will be killed, but the poor and innocent soldiers on the front, be they Uyghurs, Tibetans, or Gorkhas, will be killed.

Chinese propaganda mechanisms will not fail to spread rumours about India’s treachery against the Tibetans and Gorkhas. If India shows any consideration for Tibetans or Gorkhas during the war, it will lose badly. This will be a win-win situation for the Chinese, at least on the domestic front, but it will be an irreparable loss for India. For instance, the Chinese government will get a reprieve from the ire and resentment it faced on the home front after the Galwan clash that led to the deaths of several Chinese soldiers.

India will lose the considerable goodwill it has been enjoying amongst the Uyghurs, Tibetans, or Gorkhas across the globe. But the grand Chinese design will be to use the Gorkhas to create instability along the border and inside India, exactly the way it has done in the Indian hinterland (Kashmir) with the help of Pakistan. The same may be recreated in West Bengal (especially Darjeeling), Northeastern states, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim, where a substantial population of Gorkhas live. Since there has been demand for a separate Gorkhaland out of the Indian state of West Bengal, Chinese efforts will be to exacerbate the situation further by providing men, money, and materials. Now, with the help of another South Asian state, Nepal, which has not a very amicable relationship with India at the present juncture, it will not hesitate to create internal instability in India. Earlier, for over seven decades, China had been using the South Asian nation of Pakistan to vitiate the atmosphere in Kashmir.

India will now face huge challenges on multiple fronts. The Chinese will ensure India curry the disfavour of the Tibetans and Gorkhas, who have been culturally, spiritually, and emotionally close to India. Particularly, the Gorkhas, who have had a strong bond with Indians for the last few centuries and who have been part of the Indian military, contributing immensely and sacrificing their lives for India, would nurse a grudge against India. By doing this, the Chinese are following in letter and spirit one of the teachings of Chinese philosopher Tsu Nzu, “killing your enemies without losing a single bullet,” described in his masterpiece, The Art of War. Two important points can be made here. China will set India right along the border by putting her at risk of taking any action against Tibetans and Gorkhas. Further, the old-age ties between India and Tibetans and India and Gorkhas will be severed.

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