India should shed its "submissive" and "timid" attitude towards China and show firmness in dealing with it on the boundary dispute by strengthening defence and cementing ties with Russia, Former Foreign Secretary A P Venkateswaran said.
He said China's "aggressive" stance was due to the "extremely submissive" attitude of India in recent years. Asked if he sees tension rising further between India and China, he said, "Yes, unless we show firmness and begin to take measures to strengthen our defence and also build up our relations, particularly with Russia which is more friendly towards us, in my considered view, than USA ever will be".
"After Indira Gandhi's time, New Delhi has pursued a policy of appeasement, not only towards China but towards all those governments which adopted a superior attitude, whether it was the USA or UK or China," Venkateswaran said. On what he thought was the solution of the boundary dispute, Venkateswaran said it lies in showing firmness and determination not to keep giving into China's formulations docilely, such as Beijing's expression "Line of Actual Control" which New Delhi has adopted since the 1962 war. "Let us start by claiming our border as we see it", he said.
Asked if India needs to play the "Tibet card", Venkateswaran said, "It is too late to do such a thing, after Prime Ministers P V Narasimha Rao and Rajiv Gandhi had said in joint statements with Beijing that Tibet is an integral part of China. "However, we can legitimately question the ruthless use of force recently against the Tibetans and against the Uighurs in Sinkiang. After all China keeps advising India on our relations with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal etc., etc," he said.
He said close strategic and military ties between China and Pakistan was a serious worry for New Delhi. "We should not hesitate to say so and condemn such collusion, starting with the signing away by them to Pakistan a part of Aksai Chin, illegally taken by China from India. The Chinese added insult to injury by adding a clause in that agreement with Pakistan that as and when the border issue was settled with India, they (the Chinese) would be prepared to discuss this question with India. Such is the Chinese perfidy," Venkateswaran, a former Ambassador to China, said.
He said there was no need for India to depend on others. "After all, we represent the second largest population in the world and there is no need at all to depend on others. Let us not underestimate the hostility and hidden alarm of both the USA and Russia to China's expanding military strength. He said the main reason why US was courting India because Washington needs a country with a large population on its side. "Of course, that should not mean that we lend ourselves as cannon-fodder to the US, by getting involved in the war in Afghanistan which America does not know how to extricate itself," Venkateswaran added.