Interview: Sonam Wangchuk on LAC Standoff — ‘It’s Chinese Aggression’


DOING terse talking on the Sino-India standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the man — whose life inspired the Bollywood blockbuster: 3 Idiots — wants New Delhi to confront Beijing’s military might with an economic offensive.

He’s raising his “Boycott China” pitch, when the cold desert’s captured pastures have threatened to become frontlines following New Delhi’s Bofors stockpiling against Beijing’s sabre-rattling.

But with strategic Fingers already Dragonised, as some Indian military veterans put it, Sonam Wangchuk is fast becoming a default spokesperson of the arid region bordering China.

The ‘out of the box’ engineer has already become an apparent poster boy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘vocal for local’ dogma.

But as standoff suspense continues, Kashmir Observer’s Special Correspondent gets into conversation with the outspoken Ladakhi self-starter, to understand the ground mood shadowed by the menacing dragon.

What’s going on in Ladakh?

Well, Chinese troops have taken the Indian territory in kilometres, and have occupied our grazing lands.

One isn’t, however, sure how far they’ve come, as nobody is allowed to visit the faceoff point.

What we do know is that Chinese troops have occupied places which never belonged to them.

Even many nomads we talked to told us the same thing. They’re very angry with the government for not doing enough to protect their land. Do you feel the same?

I don’t see it that way.

I want to see what can be done, rather what hasn’t been done. I want China to be surprised.

But how would you do that when China isn’t lowering its guards? Where should India draw the line now?

First of all, India is not just the government in New Delhi. It’s the whole population who live in it.

Second, as someone who’s keenly watching the government response on this faceoff, I believe we should not leave it to just military line.

What about Ladakhis? How’re they seeing this standoff in their backyards?

Since we’re in pandemic lockdown for two months now, I don’t know what they think about this in their homes.

But on social media, I see a sense of rage.

There’s a lot of anger among people. And why not, they’ve lost their grazing lands. It’s a serious concern.

But how different is this current situation from earlier incursions?

Chinese troops who used to enter earlier as well have now taken a large portion of land in the eastern Ladakh. Since borders are inaccessible, one can’t tell what’s actually happening.

What according to you is the final solution of this standoff?

Before talking of any solution, we’ve to understand the problem.

I think the problem this time is not about the routine Chinese incursions. This time, it’s because of China’s own internal problem.

It can’t be a coincidence that amid this global pandemic when everybody is worried about the virus, China has started the aggression with India on borders.

No country would do that at this time. Thing is, China has so many issues; its economy is under lot of pressure. After COVID-19 gripped China so badly and ended up creating unemployment, people are angry with their government.

Fearing uprising, Beijing diverted the attention of masses by resorting to military muscle to deal with its neighbours like Taiwan, Vietnam and India.

While a biting military response should be there, I believe an economic retort is what is bothering China today.

Violation of our sovereignty through incursions and doing business as usual with us should not happen. Let’s not forget that in business, China will be a bigger loser because of its huge deficit.

If every Indian says no to Made in China, and yes to Made in India, Made in Taiwan, Made in Korea, and why not, Made in Pakistan, too. They’re all our neighbours and democratic countries.

This will force China to come on a dialogue table, and, who knows, it might face an uprising within too.

But do you think running a campaign by urging Indians to uninstall Chinese Apps in their mobile phones will force Beijing to scale down the LAC stance?

Yes, if uninstalled in large numbers, then definitely China will be cornered. Imagine China without the global patronage to its businesses!

And if people will send a strong message by uninstalling the Chinese Apps in their mobile phones, Chinese orders and goods will lose their market. It will force China to step back.

I don’t know how people will take it, but in the long run, it’ll do a lot of good and send a strong message across.

Such steps will help us to develop our local industries and factories, and generate employment for our people.

But isn’t that too much for people to do? Are Ladakhis doing it?

Well, it’s happening. I’ve seen people posting videos after uninstalling Chinese Apps.

I don’t think, however, we should’ve any problem with Apple. Within a year, Apple and other companies will bring out their factories out of China if more and more people will say we won’t buy any Made in China product.

You know customers are kings. They don’t depend on business; business depends on their mood.

But when diplomatic channels have failed to yield any results on the faceoff, do you think such response will deter a super power like China?

Well, all of us know how Arab Spring spread in times of internet.

So who knows when frustration against China will spread. Once it does, it would be China’s nightmare. Such a response will be our greater deterrent than gun.

But then, there’re some who believe that New Delhi is diverting the attention of masses by using this LAC faceoff to cover up its own failures. What do you think?

This could be true as well, because governments often do such things. But this time around, it’s not the case.

Being in Ladakh, I know, it’s a Chinese aggression, nothing else.

One needs to check, where China drew the Actual Line of Control in 1962, and where they’re standing now. It’ll be a big surprise, because they’ve already eaten away a huge portion of Indian land.

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Auqib Javeed

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