Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy has come out with his latest book — ‘Himalayan challenge: India, China and the Quest for Peace’ — in which he has listed out steps that the government can focus on in the area of foreign policy. Swamy said India needed to demonstrate the will to oust the Chinese who, during the UPA rule, occupied Indian territory in the range of 2,000-8,000 sq km. He was in conversation with senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai during TNIE Expressions, a series of live webcasts with prominent people.
How did you form an understanding of China and what role did you play when there was no communication between New Delhi and Beijing?
(Former PM) Morarji Desai was very fond of me. One day he told me, ‘You’re an expert on China; can you tell, why these people don’t want to talk to us on the area they have grabbed from us?’ I said, ‘You win the confidence and do something for which they will remember you forever’. I suggested India should convey that her land would not be allowed to be used by the Soviets, who had a conflict with China over an island on the border with Siberia. I was the first politician to visit China after 1962, and they were pleased to hear of the assurance. Later, the Chinese in Kathmandu spoke of talks on the border issue, and the opening of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra happened, with me being the first pilgrim.
In times of ambivalence with China, you have listed out three options: combat, contain or become part of a triumvirate of India, US and China for cooperation? How do you see cooperation in such times?
Today, the picture is complicated because the Chinese, during the UPA rule, came across the Line of Actual Control and occupied anywhere between 2,000-8,000 sq km... (PM Narendra) Modi and Xi Jinping (Chinese President) had 18 meetings, and I’ve been asking publicly and privately if the fact about the occupation was known or not and whether it has been raised. All that I have got is silence. My prescription is to limit the attention to the border issue; they must go back.
You have stated that PLA is vastly overestimated.
Galwan is an example. Our soldiers climbed up the mountains and bare handed killed three times the number they had killed ours. We are far superior; in 1967 in Nathu La, Sikkim, we thrashed them, and also in 1987 in an Arunachal valley. China can never challenge India on border issues because of the logistics. They have a long supply route that can be bombed anytime. We need to tell the world that we can defend ourselves.
You also said India needs to catch up with China on economy.
Indian economy can grow faster than China if there’s correct policy.