Targeting India from within: Are we ready to foil China’s strategy?

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Abhijit Bhattacharyya

In spite of so much evidence from our history, even the recent history of the past few decades, very few Indians realise the extent to which certain unfriendly foreign powers, and some neighbours, take full advantage of our open, even transparent, society. It is high time that more Indians realise the extent to which Chinese nationals, for one, have taken full advantage of the phenomenal ignorance of ordinary citizens to carry out adversarial activities on our soil, and also exploited their goodwill.
Have people really forgotten how, back in the 1960s and early 1970s, a serious attempt at armed rebellion was begun in West Bengal by armed Naxalites inspired, funded and equipped by Communist China and its then founder Chairman Mao Zedong. When their cadres brazenly chanted on the streets that “China’s chairman is our chairman”! Or when, a decade or so later, Punjab was awash in bloodshed as the “Khalistan” movement was instigated, supported and funded by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and its supporters in the West, all with the basic objective of weakening this country.
Coming back to the Chinese, just a few instances of the gross misdemeanour of its nationals (in India) will suffice. In 2010, for example, a 47-year-old Chinese woman from Chengdu Jing Ping Ling, who had entered India without a visa from Nepal, was arrested from a bus at Khairbari in West Bengal (very near Naxalbari, where the original Chinese-inspired Naxalite movement had been launched, leading to the deaths of over 50,000 people, mostly Hindu Bengalis) while she was on her way to Sikkim. Though sentenced to two-year rigorous imprisonment for espionage by a Siliguri court in January 2011, thanks to Chinese consular intervention she was shifted from Presidency Jail to a women’s correctional home in Kolkata.
In August 2015, two Chinese nationals and their Indian driver from Delhi were arrested in the Matigara police station area (again near Naxalbari), close to the India-Nepal border, for smuggling three quintals of red sandalwood. The two cases, at Khairbari and Matigara, both near Naxalbari, were in an area that adjoins Nepal, West Bengal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Bangladesh. It is next door to the Indian Army’s Siliguri corps headquarters and several Air Force stations. There are sufficient grounds for suspicion about espionage. Would it be possible for Indian nationals to move as freely deep inside China, and particularly near sensitive locations? Is this the type of “people to people contacts” that we would want to encourage?
The intrusive penetration of India by the Chinese goes on unabated. In the third week of June 2018, Ye Wang, a Chinese national, along with Ganesh Bhattarai of Nepal and Indian businessman Bipul Agarwal were arrested under the Foreigners Act for forgery and cheating. Ye Wang, despite having a valid Chinese passport, produced an Aadhaar card to prove his identity at a Siliguri hotel. Siliguri is again in the heart of north Bengal, a stone’s throw away from Nepal, Bangladesh, Sikkim and Bhutan. Has West Bengal been identified as a target state for destabilisation? Also remember, that not very far from here is the Nathu La pass and Doklam. In June 2018, China’s invasion-cum-penetration shifts 550 km south. Five Chinese nationals from Guangzhou were arrested from Kolkata’s Chitpur railway station for smuggling 197 kg of amphetamine, a banned narcotic drug with an approximate market price of `39 crores. All five had planned to fly out of Kolkata by the next morning’s flight to Hong Kong. And nobody in our security
and intelligence agencies appeared to be aware that these five had been travelling to India at least four times a year since 2016. What were they doing? Was it just drug smuggling, or was there some link to terror or espionage as well?
Charlie Peng from Nanjing, after crossing over illegally to India five years ago, got married to an Indian girl from Manipur in the Northeast, and got caught with an Aadhaar card (with an address of a residential society in Delhi’s Dwarka) and an Indian passport! Was he running an organised espionage ring from posh DLF in Gurgaon, where he was living, with lakhs of rupees in cash and a top-of-the-line Toyota SUV. From the Northeast to Delhi to Himachal, with a new Indian wife, and with addresses in Gurgaon and Delhi. These are individuals who must face the closest scrutiny — the income-tax department should monitor his transactions and property, the DRI and customs should do other financial checks, and the Enforcement Directorate must vet his foreign exchange dealings.
One case emerged in Uttar Pradesh when two Chinese — Guoqing Xia and Wenxin Zu (both from Hunan) — were caught drunk and naked as they rammed their SUV into a car in Meerut. An accident involving a naked and drunk foreign driver on an Indian road attracted attention by the authorities, and it emerged that the two drunk Chinese were “quality control experts” for a Chinese firm and that they frequently visited a local factory which exports meat products to China”, and that they lived in a rented house in Meerut. Both were issued “business visas”, one from April to September 2018 (for six months) and the other from July to September 2018 (three months). How did someone with a three-month business visa in India manage to rent a place to stay in Meerut for such a short duration? Remember, Meerut has a big military cantonment, one of the closest to Delhi. Do Indians get similar treatment in China? Have you heard of “quality control experts” from India going deep inside factories in small Chinese cities to ensure that quality goods are being exported to India?
On November 19, a Bengali daily carried this report: “Chinese citizen Wang caught without a passport at Digha, a sea resort in West Bengal. After failing to convince interrogators with a web of false stories, Wang ultimately confessed having entered India through Nepal without a passport.” But how did he enter Nepal without a passport? Many other questions also arise. Digha, incidentally, is very close to Kalaikunda, a major Air Force base in eastern India. Four decades ago, the Indian Central Excise Act 1944 had a mandatory provision for the permanent official presence of central excise inspectors inside factory premises for “physical control” of manufactured goods which had to pay indirect tax or central excise duty before leaving the factory gate. Understandably, this “physical control” was replaced by the “self removal procedure” of manufactured goods, thus passing on the onus of tax payment to the producer himself. Is the presence of Chinese officials in Indian factories a repeat of “physical control” by foreigner, instead of Indians themselves?
It is high time that our government takes urgent steps to tackle the deep Chinese invasion and penetration of India. China plans for the long term. What began with Jing Ping Ling in 2010 near Naxalbari in West Bengal has now spread all over India — from Manipur to Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, UP, Himachal, Haryana and Delhi. India’s sovereignty is under the gravest of threat from the non-military Chinese strategy of surprise, deception and mobility. Will we wake up in time, or wait to be broken from within by the Chinese?

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