Support the national rights of the Kashmiri and the Nepalese people!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 28 May 2020, www.thecommunists.net
1. A dangerous confrontation is looming at the border between China and India – the world’s two most populous countries. Since 5 May, troops have clashed on the banks of Pangong Tso – a 135 kilometer-long, 5-7 kilometer-wide glacial lake in Ladakh, which is a de facto extension of the Tibetan plateau in the Kashmir region. The conflict began when large contingents of Chinese soldiers entered deep inside Indian-controlled territory at three places, erecting tents and posts. It is said that both sides have mobilized about 5,000 soldiers and armoured vehicles each which are camped just a few hundred meters from each other. In addition, Chinese and Indian soldiers also faced off along a frontier in India’s northeastern Sikkim state (located in the small border region between Nepal and Bhutan). Negotiations between Indian and Chinese diplomats have brought no results until now.
2. The current tensions are only the latest chapter in the longstanding conflict between the nuclear-armed rivals which share a 3,488km undemarcated border (called “Line of Actual Control”). China claims about 90,000 square kilometers of territory in India’s northeast – particularly the state of Arunachal Pradesh. India, on the other hand, says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers of its territory in the Aksai Chin plateau in the Himalayas, a contiguous part of the Ladakh region. This conflict resulted in a war in 1962. There was also a serious two-month conflict in the Doklam/Donglang region in summer 2017 which however was ended by diplomatic negotiations.
3. The conflict exacerbated recently. India unilaterally declared Ladakh region a federal territory in August 2019, separating it from Indian-occupied Kashmir. China strongly condemned this move. India has also intensified its efforts of building border infrastructure. Under the Modi government, it has completed 74 strategic roads along the eastern border, with plans afoot to finish 20 more by next year. Most recently, the government announced the completion of a road and bridge through the Galway Valley in Ladakh connecting the region to an airstrip.
4. At the same time, imperialist China has expanded significantly its influence in the region via its central geopolitical project – the Belt and Road Initiative. Major infrastructure investments, loans and political initiative has ensured that China has become a key player in Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives – all countries which have been traditionally in India’s sphere of influence. Add to this Pakistan which is also a nuclear power, an arch-enemy of India and, for the same reason, a longstanding strategic ally of China.
5. There are two additional conflicts relevant for the current developments. First, India has recently opened a new road to Lipulekh for the Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage to Tibet. The territories encompassing Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh which are historically considered by Nepal to be its land. These areas have been occupied by Indian forces since the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Nepal has been forced to accept this situation as it is a much smaller country dominated by India since decades. Nepalese patriots accuse India of occupying about 630 square kilometers of its territory. However, the latest move by India has provoked a series of popular protests in Nepal. There are regular demonstrations with people chanting “Go Back India” and burning the effigies of Modi as well as of the Nepalese Prime Minister. Various Maoist parties – which are traditionally strong in Nepal – have issued public statements rejecting “Indian expansionism”. Against this background, the Nepalese government has been forced to issue a strong diplomatic statement calling India to retreat – a noticeable change to its passive stance in the past. The RCIT states that it supports the sovereign national rights of Nepal against the Indian hegemon.
6. In addition, one should not forget that the current stand-off between Chinese and Indian troops takes place in Ladakh which is part of historic Kashmir. In other words, neither India nor China has any legitimate right to occupy this territory as it belongs rightfully to the Kashmiri people. The RCIT reiterates its unconditional support for the national liberation struggle of the Kashmiri people which have been brutally oppressed by the Indian state since decades. This oppression has become even worse by Modi’s brutal assault in August 2019 which aims at the Hinduization of the Muslim-majority region.
7. It is possible that the current stand-off between China and India can be resolved diplomatically as it was the case in 2017. However, there exist several important factors which increase the danger of an open military confrontation. First, we are in the midst of the devastating depression of the capitalist world economy, resulting in the worst economic crisis since many decades both in China as well as in India. This has also provoked major political crisis in many countries. All over the world, ruling classes have utilized the COVID-19 pandemic as a cover to launch state bonapartist attacks on democratic rights. Both the Chinese as well as the Indian government – whose combined population currently account for about 37% of the entire global population – have imposed draconic lockdown rules resulting in vast expansion of surveillance programs as well as the expulsion of hundreds of millions of rural migrants from major cities. In short, both governments are currently faced with explosive political developments at home. In such a situation, the ruling classes in both countries are interested in wiping up chauvinism and patriotic sable-rattling against traditional rivals in order to deflect the attention of the people to an external enemy.
8. Add to this the acceleration of the Cold War between the world’s largest imperialist powers – the U.S. and China. This Cold War has provoked a Global Trade War as well as in military tensions in the South China Sea in the recent past. The current threat of U.S. sanctions against Huwai, the conflicts about Taiwan and Hong Kong and the looming bloody crackdown of Beijing against the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong are just the latest features of the escalating Cold War.
9. Over the past years, the right-wing Modi government has deepened India’s alliance with U.S. imperialism resulting in the creation of the so-called Quad – the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. This is a loose alliance of the U.S., Japan, Australia and India aimed against China. Under the current conditions, the Trump Administration is certainly interested in lending support to any opponent of its imperialist rival.
10. The RCIT has published several works with dealt extensively with the class nature of China and India. We characterize China as an imperialist Great Power. Its monopoly capital is a major player on the world market. Likewise it has become a key factor in world politics as the current COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates. India is not an imperialist power but rather a semi-colonial regional power or intermediate power. While its population has nearly the same size as China’s its economy and social structure are much more backward. Its small monopoly capital plays a far less significant role on the world market and its political influence is largely confined to the South Asian region. However, it is a regional power of strategic significance. This is both due its sheer size as well as its geographic location. South Asia is home to a quarter of the world’s population. It is also neighbor to East Asia, the most important region of the capitalist world economy. Furthermore, in any significant confrontation with China, India would act as an ally of U.S. imperialism. In other words, while India’s ruling class definitely has its own, independent interests, it would objectively act in any conflict with Beijing as part of the U.S. camp.
11. Under such circumstances, revolutionaries are obligated to refuse supporting either camp. Hence the RCIT calls socialists in both countries to oppose both the ruling class of China and of India. 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 which is diametral opposed to the fundamental interests of the popular masses. Socialists in both countries must oppose any chauvinist campaign directed against the rival (e.g. economic sanctions, “patriotic” consumer boycott campaigns, etc.). 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. In case of a war, socialists should refuse any support for “their” ruling class and act on the basis of the Leninist program of revolutionary defeatism. This means, they should work towards transforming such a reactionary war into a civil war against the ruling class.
* Workers and oppressed: Do not support the ruling class in China or India! Your main enemy is at home!
* Down with chauvinism and war-mongering! No to sanctions and “patriotic” consumer boycott campaigns directed against the rival!
* No to the Cold War between the U.S. and China!
* Workers and Oppressed: Fight all Great Powers in East and West!
* Support the national liberation struggle of the Kashmiri people!
* Defend the sovereign rights of Nepal against India and China!
* Down with the Stalinist-capitalist dictatorship in Beijing! Down with the reactionary Hindu-chauvinist Modi government!
* Long live the international solidarity of the working class!
* Organize for the socialist revolution! For workers and poor peasant republics in China and India! For a socialist federation of Asia!
* Join the RCIT in building a Revolutionary World Party!
International Bureau of the RCIT
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We refer to the following documents of the RCIT which are relevant for this issue:
On the conflict between China and India see e.g. 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, Revolutionary Communism No. 71, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-india-rivalry/
On the Great Power rivalry in general see Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, January 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/
On China as an imperialist Great Power see the numerous booklets, statements, and articles on our special sub-page on the RCIT website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/.
On Indian capitalism see e.g. India: A Prison House of Nations and Lower Castes. Essay on the social and national contradictions of Indian capitalism and the rise of Hindutva chauvinism, 16 August 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/india-is-a-a-prison-house-of-nations-and-lower-castes/
On Kashmir see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Kashmir Question and the Indian Left Today. Marxism, Stalinism and centrism on the national liberation struggle of the Kashmiri people (Pamphlet), 26 September 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/kashmir-question-and-indian-left-today/.
On the COVID-19 crisis see the numerous documents on our special sub-page on the RCIT website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-2019-corona-virus/. In particular we refer readers to the new book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-covid-19-global-counterrevolution/; see also the RCIT Manifesto: COVID-19: A Cover for a Major Global Counterrevolutionary Offensive. We are at a turning point in the world situation as the ruling classes provoke a war-like atmosphere in order to legitimize the build-up of chauvinist state-bonapartist regimes, 21 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-a-cover-for-a-major-global-counterrevolutionary-offensive/.