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‘India needs to negotiate and make territorial adjustments with China’: Congress MP Manish Tewari suggests ‘give and take’ of border areas

"In all the land border negotiations that China has included, China has ended up settling for much less than what they had originally felt," Manish Tewari was heard defending his 'give and take' policy recommendation.

On Saturday (2nd December), Congress MP Manish Tewari addressed a session at the 7th Military Literature Festival Chandigarh 2023. During his speech, he said that Indians need to be educated on negotiations. He also remarked that when engaging in diplomatic relationships with China, there will be some give and take of territory along the border and India needs to prepare itself for such land exchange.

Manish Tewari was supposed to keep his talk about ‘How do India and China face off today in terms of weapons, technology, and self-reliance?’. According to an X post by the Congress MP, his exact subject was – “China started its military modernisation in 1995; where are they today in terms of research, reverse engineering and self-reliance? How does India fare in this regard and for how long will it have to rely upon the import of military weapons and technology”.

But what Manish Tewari catered to the audience was just a series of numbers regarding the defence expenditure of both countries over the past few decades and some unsolicited advice on India’s diplomacy toward China.

Manish Tewari endorses ‘territorial adjustments’ with China along the border

Questioning India’s historic stand towards China which has developed in a certain manner over the last so many decades under various regimes, Manish Tewari said, “India will never be able to achieve its true potential if it does not break out of its zero-sum relationship with China on the one hand and the legacy of partition or the baggage of partition with Pakistan on the other hand. And that would require territorial adjustments.”

Advising India to give away its borderlands to China, Manish Tewari said, “China has resolved its land boundary issues with almost all its neighbours except Bhutan and India. And in Bhutan, the boundary negotiations are in a very advanced stage. Therefore, show of jingoism and show of hyperbole is an option. We must seriously think of if we feel that any kind of formalised defence architecture in the Indo-Pacific region of which India if it becomes a part would erode our strategic autonomy. Then the only other option we have is to negotiate and negotiate seriously. Educate our people that when you enter into negotiations and when there is a give and take, there will have to be adjustments that will have to be made. I think that is where we are today.”

Manish Tewari resorts to monkey balancing during Q&A session

Speaking more on his border adjustment concept, Manish Tewari answered a question about whether India has to be more on the giving side than the taking side when it comes to negotiations Tewari talked about. But it looked more like a monkey-balancing rather than any explanation.

He said, “First of all, this premise that in any negotiations we will have to give more to China is not borne out by historical facts. In all the land border negotiations that China has included, China has ended up settling for much less than what they had originally felt.”

He added, “Therefore if you look at their land boundary negotiations across the border, what their original claims were and ultimately what the settlement they were at – there is a marked difference between the two. Even with the Burma boundary issue, they settled on the McMohan line without calling it the McMohan line. Therefore, I do not agree with the argument that if there is a give-and-take talk we will end up ceding more to them than what we would get more in return.”

Hailing Dr Manmohan Singh’s pro-Pakistan policy

Answering another question in this regard, Manish Tewari resorted to reiterating his border-adjustment policies. He said, “What we need to keep in mind is that eventually in any territorial negotiations, there will be a give and take. Therefore I underscore the fact that we have to prepare our people if we were to embark on or go down that path where any negotiation would essentially involve a give and take.”

He further said, “There is also a third way. We tried out that third way with Pakistan and had almost succeeded during the times of Dr Manmohan Singh and Parvez Musharraf. That is – you make the borders irrelevant. Because today the borders are irrelevant. Because, if you look at it while you may feasibly sit here, it is irrelevant to spend three-fourths of your day in a virtual civilisation that knows no borders. Fundamentally, there has to be a change in mindset. Do we want territory, or do we want security? And there is a fundamental distinction between these two concepts. Unfortunately, we have equated security with territory and I leave it at that.”

NATO-like organisation in the Asia Pacific region

Proposing a NATO-like regional cooperation organisation as a means to tackle China, Manish Tewari said, “If you want to modernise your defence, you have no other option but to grow your economy. China’s growth is crumbling under a mountain of debt. But, still, the divergence with India in the foreseeable future is going to grow. And I will not get into China’s reorganisation of armed forces, its move from an incubation warfare paradigm to an intelligence drive warfare paradigm. I leave that.”

Going beyond his prescribed subject of discussion, Manish Tewari presented some unnecessary alternatives to Indian diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific region. He said, “As I look at it from a purely strategic point of view, India has no other option but to recreate a NATO in the Indo-Pacific. The QUAD will provide the lynchpin of that arrangement. We need to pick up the ball and take it to a logical conclusion which does not leave QUAD as a hairy-fairy concept.”

He further cleared his views in the question and answer session where he said, “As we speak today, the territorial disputes that China has are in the maritime domain. They are in the South China Sea and the East China Sea where almost all neighbours China. Coupled with that, the USA remains a big outside balancer apart in the Asia Pacific. All the countries in that part of the world have had historic problems with China. The question is do you have the courage or do your partners in the region dare to do it (form a NATO in the Asia Pacific region)? The QUAD is a 2007 concept.”

Congress has a history of favouring China

This is not the first time that the Congress party and its members have taken a pro-China stand in India-China bilateral ties including border issues. The party and its prince Rahul Gandhi have on several occasions expressed their admiration for China openly.

In his controversial speech at Cambridge Judge Business School in March this year, Rahul Gandhi showered praises on China hailing it as an ‘aspiring superpower’ and ‘force of nature’ adding that China harbours ‘social harmony’. The Gandhi scion had also lauded China’s controversial Belt and Road initiative.

Last year as well in a conversation with The Print columnist Shruti Kapila at the Cambridge University event, Rahul Gandhi praised the Belt and Road Initiative and claimed that China wanted the countries around it to prosper. 

During his recent tour in Ladakh, Rahul Gandhi claimed that China had grabbed India’s grazing land in Ladakh. However, Gandhi during his UK visit in May last year asserted that “Ladakh is to China what Ukraine is to Russia.” The Congress leader back then had even urged foreign powers to intervene in India’s internal matters.

Congress had an MoU with China

Back in 2020, details about the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation’s (RGF) monetary operations emerged. OpIndia had previously published detailed pieces about the Chinese government’s financial contributions of more than Rs 1 crore to RGF between 2006 and afterwards.

In 2008, during UPA1, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Congress party signed an agreement for the sharing of high-level information and collaboration. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) also provided the two parties with the “opportunity to consult each other on important bilateral, regional and international developments”. Notably, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have served as trustees of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation since 2005, while Sonia Gandhi serves as the foundation’s chairperson.

The Congress party had signed an MoU with the Chinese government, and Rahul Gandhi had secretly met the Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui in 2017 during the Doklam standoff. He even secretly met Chinese ministers in September 2018 during his Kailash Mansarovar visit. 

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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