Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently proposed construction of a new tunnel in the so-called “Arunachal Pradesh”(called South Tibet in China). If India seeks to break the status quo in the disputed region, relevant countermeasures by China should be in place.
India’s NDTV quoted the country’s army chief General Bipin Rawat as saying recently that the army is focusing on improving border infrastructure to ensure speedy movement of ammunition and troops.
The South Tibet region is located along China’s southwestern border and India’s northeastern border where Sino-Indian border disputes are centered.
It has only been a few months since China and India agreed to disengage after a military standoff of more than 70 days in the Doklam region along their border, which dealt a severe blow to bilateral ties. Sino-Indian relations are at a sensitive stage. The construction of the tunnel will complicate the border issue and may have serious consequences.
India has sped up development of infrastructure along the border with China but its efforts are largely in thrall to its financial constraints and backward technology. The development of infrastructure can only play a limited role in improving the military’s combat capability, but it is more of a gesture by the Indian government to strengthen control in the region. If it is a unilateral action by India to break the status quo in the disputed region, China has reason to respond to this.
China has plenty of chips with which to bargain with India, through political, military and economic means. From an economic perspective, more efforts to shore up the development of southwestern Tibet will help increase the bargaining chips on the Chinese side if people in “Arunachal Pradesh” see better economic development in southwestern Tibet. What’s more, China can try to step up investment in South Tibet to increase its presence.
Despite backward connectivity infrastructure in the disputed China-India border areas, made-in-China products are quite popular in the local markets in northeast India. Most of the goods are imported by India from Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh, which serve as transit points for made-in-China goods. China can strengthen economic cooperation with the three countries to put pressure on India regarding issues related to the disputed region.
The Global Times