Neither Beijing nor Delhi! Down with Chauvinism and Expansionism!
1. In recent weeks, tensions between China and India in the Sikkim border region have accelerated to a level not seen since the 1980s. On 18 June, Indian troops, with two bulldozers, entered the area known as Doklam (by India) or Donglang (by China). This area is located on the strategically important Himalayan plateau at the tri-junction of Sikkim, Tibet and Bhutan. The trigger for this attack by the Indian troops, has been the construction of a road in this area by China.
2. China's attempt to control Doklam/Donglang is an extremely sensitive issue to India. This area is extremely important to India’s security as it overlooks the Siliguri corridor. This is the so-called Chicken's Neck which links mainland India with its remote northeastern regions. This territorial link of India with its Northeastern states is only 27km wide and 100km from China’s Chumbi valley where significant Chinese military forces are stationed. Access to this region will potentially enable China to easily disrupt the land connection between two parts of India. While a short-term compromise between the two states cannot be excluded, conflicts between the two states can and will certainly emerge again. This is unavoidable given the acceleration of the rivalry between China and India in a historic period of capitalist decay as well as the fact that they share a 3,500km frontier of which large parts have for decades been in dispute.
3. One cause of the recent escalation of the conflict between China and India is the struggle between the two powers for influence in Bhutan. Geographically, this small country is sandwiched in the middle of two giants. Politically Bhutan is a reactionary monarchy. It has been a traditional satellite of India until recently. However, India's domination of Bhutan has been challenged in the recent past by the regional and global rise of China as an imperialist power. With its armed intervention in the Sikkim border region, Delhi hopes to reverse this trend and to regain full domination of Bhutan.
4. The conflict between Beijing and Delhi over the domination of Bhutan is however only a part of a comprehensive struggle between the two powers for regional hegemony. China's rise as an imperialist power has resulted in a series of economic and political initiatives both in Asia as well as globally (e.g. Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Belt and Road Initiative). Since the right-wing government of Modi took power in 2014, India has tried to oppose China's initiatives. Delhi has looked for closer collaboration with US and Japanese imperialism. As part of its foreign policy turn, it recently started to launch its own regional initiatives (e.g. Chahbahar Project, a joint initiative with Japan called Asia Africa Growth Corridor).
5. The RCIT and ELA (Zambia) have repeatedly pointed out that one of the most important changes in world politics in the past decade has been the rise of China as an imperialist power. Today China rivals the U.S. as a global force which is reflected in its leading presence amongst the world's largest corporations, banks, billionaires as well as economic and military powers.
6. India on the other hand is not an imperialist power – albeit the reactionary Hindu chauvinist forces in the BJP would wish for. India is rather a peculiar semi-colony which is also a regional power. True, India's economy experienced a period of rapid economic growth and modernization in the past 25 years. As a result, it has been able to develop a certain number of monopolies which operate also on the world market and which exploit workers and poor in semi-colonial countries in Africa and Asia. However, looking at India's economy as a whole it is clear that its modern sectors cannot alter the backward capitalist character of the total economy. India remains a very poor country with the majority of its labor force still employed in agriculture. India has ensured its economic growth with the massive exploitation of its working class and with the increasing economic subordination to foreign imperialist capital. True, Indian monopolies operate and exploit abroad but given the size of the country and its economy they have a rather secondary character if we compare them to other countries. Foreign imperialist domination of India increases at a much faster rate than Indian capitalists can dominate other peoples abroad. Likewise, India is not able to play a significant global role in world politics. It is stuck in its permanent state of conflict with Pakistan and India. It cannot play any significant independent role in world politics but has to subordinate itself to Great Powers like the US, China or Russia.
7, Hence, Delhi will sooner or later will face the following alternative: Either it stops its obstruction against Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative and turns back towards closer collaboration. This would mean effectively that it subordinates itself under the leadership of imperialist China. Or Delhi continues its resistance against Beijing which would inevitable push it into the arms of US and Japanese imperialism. In this case too, it would subordinate itself under the leadership of imperialist powers. Whichever road it takes, India is doomed to play a secondary role in subordination to the Great Powers.
8. The RCIT and ELA (Zambia) state that the conflict between China and India is reactionary on both sides. Neither Delhi nor Beijing represents a progressive cause in this conflict. They both advance either direct imperialist interests (in the case of China) or the interests of defending hegemonic positions in the region and the desire to obstruct China's foreign policy in the service of US and Japanese imperialism (in the case of India). Hence revolutionaries should take a position of revolutionary defeatism in the conflict between China and India. They can neither support the expansion of Chinese imperialism nor can they lend support to India's reactionary policy.
9. The fundamental task of socialists and class-conscious workers in China and India consists in opposing the chauvinist wave in their countries and in fighting against their own ruling class and their reactionary goals. We say: Chinese and Indian workers and oppressed: Your main enemy is at home! The task is to denounce the chauvinist and militaristic agitation of both governments as fundamentally in contradiction with the interests of the working class and the oppressed. The Chinese workers and poor peasants have no interests in war at its border for the control of a Himalayan plateau. The same is true for their Indian brothers and sisters. Such an anti-militaristic position should also include the socialists' active opposition against any chauvinist campaigns to boycott commodities from the opposing camp. Likewise, they should reject any economic sanctions against the “rival” country. Finally, they should oppose any chauvinist riots against other nationals or foreign companies as happened e.g. during the conflict between China and Japan about the Senkaku/Diaoyu-islands in the East China Sea.
10. Socialists should organize to spread the struggle against exploitation, oppression and chauvinism and for freedom, democracy and social justice. This can only be achieved if the workers and the oppressed overthrow the ruling class and defeat all imperialist and reactionary forces. In other words, the task is to prepare for the revolution of the working class and the rural and urban poor so that the continent can finally be liberated by entering the road to a socialist future. The only solution to overcome all chauvinist tensions and national oppression lies in the formation of a socialist federation of Asia.
We refer readers to another joint statement of the RCIT and ELA (Zambia) which deals with the role of China and India in Zambia:
ELA (Zambia) and RCIT: Zambia: Down with the Exploitation by Foreign Powers! 18.08.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/china-india-in-zambia/
Furthermore, the RCIT has published an extensive pamphlet about the China-India Border Conflict and its background:
Michael Pröbsting: The China-India Conflict: Its Causes and Consequences
What are the background and the nature of the tensions between China and India in the Sikkim border region? What should be the tactical conclusions for Socialists and Activists of the Liberation Movements?
18 August 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/
For our analysis of China as an emerging imperialist country we refer readers to various documents:
Michael Pröbsting: China‘s transformation into an imperialist power. A study of the economic, political and military aspects of China as a Great Power, in: Revolutionary Communism (English-language Journal of the RCIT) No. 4, http://www.thecommunists.net/publications/revcom-number-4;
Michael Pröbsting: Russia and China as Great Imperialist Powers. A Summary of the RCIT’s Analysis, 28 March 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 22, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialist-china-and-russia/;
Michael Pröbsting: The China Question and the Marxist Theory of Imperialism. Again, on China as an imperialist Power. Reply to a Polemic from CSR (Venezuela) and PCO (Argentina), December 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 32, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/reply-to-csr-pco-on-china/