Geopolitics

Dragon Dares India: How to Face the Dragon
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 29 May , 2020

In the ongoing battle of supremacy amidst the corona crisis between USA and China, the latter let loose its wolf warriors signifying China’s new, more robust diplomatic riposte against those countries critical of China. China all of a sudden was faced with a hostile global narrative blaming it for the corona pandemic, demanding an international enquiry and some countries even seeking demurrage from China. China denied it vehemently but the global onslaught led by USA grew stronger by the day and Chinese media went to the extent of terming it ‘malicious slander against its national honour.’

“Wolf-warrior diplomacy,” named after two Chinese movies, describes offensives by Chinese diplomats to defend China’s national interests, often in confrontational ways. It is an example of soaring nationalism among the Chinese.“We will strongly hit back against malicious slanders and firmly defend national honour and dignity. We will lay out the truth to counter the gratuitous smears and to firmly uphold justice and conscience,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi while backing the “wolf warriors.”

The global anger against China is so much that anti-China sentiments gained momentum, the majority nations refused to relent and the Chinese “wolf warrior- diplomacy” failed to make much impact and on the contrary saner voices at home began to call for restraint saying that the new form of diplomacy is doing more harm to its national interests than gains, if any. But China today is ruled by all powerful Xi Jinping, while there is some dissension within the party, his diktat prevails finally. Calling of the annual National People’s Congress for a two day meeting on 22 May 2020 after a two month delay was also to indicate that normalcy has returned.  

“Wolf-warrior diplomacy” is evidenced not only in combative words but aggressive actions. China displayed its aggressiveness in South China Sea by sinking a Vietnamese fishing trawler near the Paracel Islands in early April. In mid-April, the Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources and Ministry of Civil Affairs jointly announced the naming of 80 islands, reefs, seamounts, shoals, and ridges in the South China Sea, triggering angry protests from other claimants.

The last time China named islands and other geographical features in the South China Sea was in 1983, coinciding with rise of China as an economic power.  It also established new administrative districts on both disputed Spratly and Paracel islands. China was using the global fight against corona to pursue its territorial ambitions as part of its traditional expansionist policy. The Chinese actions in South China Sea were checkmated by US intervention. India, however, continued to pursue its strategy of balance. But was the Chinese belligerence in South China Sea a warning to India which we failed to read?

India’s change in FDI rules to stem Chinese predatory trade practices didn’t go well with China. Neither was China happy with India joining the comity of nations backing a draft resolution at WHO nor was it happy with likely shift of global companies from China to India, a much talked about re-location from China. The international community has realised that it is difficult to combat the dragon individually but jointly the dragon can be tamed.

The final icing on the cake which China couldn’t digest was the Chairmanship of the Executive Board of World Health Assembly by way of which India could take to task both China and WHO. Domestic hardliners want India to support its ‘strategic allies’ on Taiwan and a global coronavirus review. China for once felt threatened by India though India has made it clear that she wants to avoid power politics.

It soon made India also the target of its “wolf warrior-diplomacy”, first in the usual way of press statements, harsh articles in its mouthpiece Global Times, and warning India of unfair trade practices. Then it decided to shift the scene to the disputed but almost settled Sino-Indian Border. Two of the three incursion points chosen had traditionally been undisputed in the past.

China once again dared India but knew very well that it was not the same India of 1962. It was trying its usual technique of messaging and signalling to coerce India least realising that India had learnt its lessons well at Doklam. China’s recent provocations on the LAC have strategic messaging rather than tactical. These are not usual summer time intrusions. Point to note is that intrusions are almost simultaneous. 

Naku La in North Sikkim, Galwan Valley in Sub Sector North (SSN) and Pangong Tso (PTSO) in Middle Sector of Eastern Ladakh.  The scuffles had very little to do with border dispute because both Naku La and Galwan were never disputed by the Chinese earlier. It wanted to send signals to India that it wants negotiations with, may be, the ulterior motive of a compromise ultimately to get out of the global entangle in which China finds itself enmeshed, a leverage against the global pandemic enquiry.

China is scared of losing its status as ‘global factory.’ China has also tried to provoke Nepal by asking it to raise a boundary dispute with India in the Lipulekh and Kalapani sectors. China is using Nepal as a pressure point as part of its coercive strategy.

While the incursion in North Sikkim was resolved using the existing border management protocols but the same have failed to resolve the tension in Eastern Ladakh, in fact, China is reported to be strengthening its positions and also some movement has been reported opposite Demchock in Sub Sector South (SSS). As mentioned earlier Chinese action doesn’t appear to be tactical and has geo-political intent.

The geopolitical dimensions of the conflict have been discussed in the preceding paragraphs. The tactical dimension revolves around China’s assertive and coercive policies to maintain dominance over the adversaries in the areas of conflict.

As part of its War Zone Campaign (WZC) doctrine, China has rapidly developed infrastructure right up to the forward posts to create military asymmetry to gain advantage over the adversary in a short or localised conflict. However, it objects strongly and reacts with force to India’s attempt to do the same on its side of the LAC. In the current scenario also the bone of contention is the newly constructed Leh-Shyok-Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) Highway which has not only removed the asymmetry but placed Indian troops in advantage.

Coupled with this is the activation of number of Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) activated by the IAF. The Chinese sensitivities in the area lie in Aksai Chin and Karakoram pass, both of which have become easily accessible to the Indian troops.

That is the reason the Chinese side is focusing on the Galwan standoff, painting India as the aggressor. In an article, its official Global Times newspaper, it accused Indian troops of crossing over into Chinese territory, and swore to protect their sovereignty. In typical Chinese style, they threatened that India would regret its actions – “the Galwan Valley is not like Doklam because it is in the Aksai Chin region in southern Xinjiang of China, where the Chinese military has an advantage and mature infrastructure. So, if India escalates the friction, the Indian military force could pay a heavy price.”

To understand the Chinese belligerence, one needs to understand the PLA. Unlike the IA, PLA is not a national army. It is the military wing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with primary role of ensuring supremacy of the CCP. Unlike a national army dedicated to the defence of a state and its people, the Chinese military’s purpose is to create political power for the party. PLA is guided by the “political warfare” doctrine of the CCP which includes

“Three Warfares” or “3Ws” encompassing, public opinion warfare, psychological warfare, and legal warfare .The first of the “3Ws,” media or public opinion warfare, attempts to shape public opinion both domestically and internationally.

If the domestic element sounds odd, it is because the PLA believes energizing or mobilizing the Chinese public is useful for signalling resolve and deterring foreign incursions on Chinese interests. The second warfare attempts to influence foreign decision-makers and how they approach China policy. The third seeks to shape the legal context for Chinese actions, including building the legal justification for Beijing’s actions and using domestic laws to signal Chinese intentions.

All of these fall under the broader umbrella of political warfare. The Party leads PLA follows. It would be of interest to note that both Doklam and the current stand – off was synchronised with the important political meetings of the CCP which are held periodically to critically examine the efficacy of the government, Xi Jinping in the instant case.

The military strategy of the PLA is based on the famous concept of “winning without fighting.” Even today CCP believes in the famous quote of Sun Tzu, “To win hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” Coercion remains the basic philosophy for resolving the political differences.

In military terms it’s called “shi”, calibrated power display with limited forces on the borders in order to seek sino-centric solutions. China believes in coercing the adversaries to submit to its will or face consequences. Psychological Warfare (Psy W) is an important component of Chinese war fighting doctrine. It also believes in creating adverse political pressure through disturbed neighbourhood.

Nepal’s recent hostile attitude and Pakistan are the two examples of the same. Another terminology often used to explain Chinese warfighting doctrine is the Unrestricted Warfare. The ultimate aim of all these is to secure victory over the adversary through aggression and coercion without the need to fight a war.

Exaggerated figures of troop deployment, pitching of dummy tents, deployment of heavy machinery, verbal aggression, propaganda, no holds barred hate campaign, threatening statements through state controlled media, cyber-attacks, misquoting laws and interpreting to its own advantage are all the tricks of the trade employed by China.

India understands the Chinese brinkmanship very well. India’s stand till now has been not only politically and militarily correct but aggressive as well. China also understands that its international image is at the lowest in the contemporary era. It would not be able to browbeat India so easily. China is scared that with changed military equation in the sector, India may not become aggressive about Aksai Chin like it has done in the case of Gilgit-Baltistan. In geo-strategic  terms China today has many vulnerabilities like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, South China Sea to name a few. India has strengthened its position not only militarily but strategically as well. Therefore, India needs to stand firmly and retain its control over the LAC. The dragon has made a mistake this time by daring India. India’s dominant location in the Indo-Pacific bestows upon it a strategic advantage. Both sides need to negotiate an exit strategy and beleaguered China if thinking to use this as a bargaining strategy to strengthen the geo-political image of CCP at home may have to concede more than India. The best way to face the dragon is to tame it. That is exactly what India is doing. Proverbial Chinese dragon is supposed to be peaceful unlike its western fire-spitting version. But this one seems to have evolved into a fire-spitting one.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Brig Anil Gupta

is Jammu-based political commentator, security and strategic analyst. 

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6 thoughts on “Dragon Dares India: How to Face the Dragon

  1. Like I said in my comment on the 31st of May,2020 at 1425 hours !

    The Indians still do not get it !

    Sample the statements of these clowns just 2-3 days ago ~

    Statement 1 Indian COAS says – All is well along the ENTIRE border

    https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/entire-situation-along-our-borders-with-china-is-under-control-says-army-chief-general-mm-naravane-news-agency

    Statement 2 – Raj poot Rajnath Singh says India is not a weak nation

    https://indianexpress.com/article/india/rajnath-singh-lac-india-china-ladakh-6458302/4

    This is after the Sino-India Talks attended by a Lt Gen Harinder Singh Ponga and a PLA MAJOR GENERAL.Note the rank differential !

    Next day – Indians gloating – although PLA took over 50 kms of Indian land !

    And then this ! dindooohindoo

    1 Commanding Officer and 2 soldiers killed !

    https://www.news18.com/news/india/india-china-ladakh-tension-live-updates-galwan-valley-sikkim-line-of-actual-control-bejing-indian-army-2672351.html

    1 Commanding Officer is also killed !

    Beauty is – no arms were used !

    No arms !

    That is why I say – Indians are a race of weasels and cowards ! What will happen when arms are used ?

    There is 1 more beauty ! The men were killed BEFORE the statement of the COAS and Rajpoot Rajnath Singh.

    Ladakh is sacred to the Chinese ! India should give it up ! What can India do in Ladakh or for Ladakh ?

    Chinese raped India 2000 years ago.

    The Chinese King who raped India , was from the Yueh Chi tribe.He then tried to conquer China,through India – he was raped and killed !

    Then the Sikhs tried to invade Tibet – they were raped and killed.ZORA SINGH WAS KILLED ON THE BATTLEFIELD.

    The Current Northern Army Commander who was negotiating with the PLA is also a SIKH.

    The Sikhs forget that their glorious victories under Ranjit Singh – were under the Military genius of French and American Generals – hired from the Napoleonic wars.

    Then there is the 1962 rape !

    Now there will be rape from the West and East.

  2. “China once again dared India but knew very well that it was not the same India of 1962.” -…

    This is just under-estimating China’s perfidy and military prowess since by the same token China in 2020 is not the same China of 1962!

    “… to coerce India least realising that India had learnt its lessons well at Doklam. ” – …
    I am not clear how to interpret this statement. Contrary to the usual perception floating around among most of the so-called Indian “experts” on military strategy that India prevailed in its stand in Doklam, there are other assessments pointing to India had compromised in 2017 . Here is one reference:

    “India eventually yielded control of the territory to China.” – https://americanmilitarynews.com/2020/05/indian-troops-rushed-to-border-amid-chinese-military-buildup/

    One needs to appreciate Nehru’s firm stand in this regard in his exchanges with Chou-en-Lai in the 1950s regarding the tri-junction of India-Bhutan-Tibet, that China cannot unilaterally draw the boundary in that area without India and Bhutan agreeing. China violated that in 2017 and succeeded in building its road further in that tri-junction with Delhi keeping silence as if the contest was just between Bhutan and China there.

  3. China raped India ,2000 years ago.

    And they will do it again.

    Every race deserves its own nation,and every nation HAS TO JUSTIFY its existence, to EACH of the RACES within it – all else ,is an “unnatural fusion” – and then ,”some calamity or disaster strikes”, and the nation is destroyed to bits.

    The said calamity is not “chance” – but is a natural corollary.Allah has made these laws of nature – which are a priori, and the “so called humans”, are robots- who will keep blundering and getting killed, and raped.

    Communists understand the laws of nature, and that Allah made them – but they do not pray to Allah – as they know that THOSE who pray to Allah and Jesus – are doomed by their immorality and their blasphemy – and so,their prayers WILL NEVER be heard –as the laws of nature WILL NOT be changed

    India is on the verge of being destroyed – as a part of the corollary of the laws of nature.

    Keep a cool head – and watch the destruction – like a True Yogi – with detachment – as there is nothing you can do.Same for sex – practice as much, and with as many,as possible – but w/o any attachment, to the sentient partner (beyond the transient instances) – let the partner liberate itself – and thus be free of angst and hate – and focus on the next sexual partner

    That is salvation and the destruction of India is EVOLUTION.

  4. “Big Picture” perspective, is required from the angulature of philosophy

    Large nations which have never existed in History as independent entities, for more than 100 years – trap a large number of races and classes,within their borders – when those races, DO NOT belong in that nation . These are accidents of history,or war treaties .dindooohindoo

    India is a primer case.It never existed, in even 10% of its geography, as an independent state .IT WAS THE BRITISH, who gave it a geographical contour

    The North East are South Tibetans – in their entirety (By genes and DNA) – with a smattering of Mons and Hans. These are NOT Indian – just like the Kashmiris are NOT Indians.

    These people need and DESERVE,A separate nation, for their EVOLUTION.

    Every sentient and race,has a RIGHT TO EVOLVE.

    The Kashmiris and the North East Indians,have a right to 1st secede,and then do whatever they want.

    There will be successes and failures – and that, is the journey to evolution and salvation .Even if they return to India – that will also be an evolution – and make India a stronger nation. “IF”

    The question is NOT – what has India done for the North East ? The Question is “What can India do – for them ?

    The answer is – NOTHING !

    India is a poor ,primitive,heathen,backward nation – which can’t take care of ITS OWN .On principles of equity.Why should Dalits lose, say 20-35 Billion USD ,a year ,to hold Kashmir and the North East ? That money has to be spent on the Dalits ! They are the TRUE INDIANS

    Y should Dalits and Kashmiris and North Easterners sacrifice their lives, for impotent ,limpet weasels and cowards of the Hindoo Kshatriya,Bania and Brahmin race and their misplaced egos ?

    The Chinese are 1 race and 1 nation !

    The Mongols are the master race of South and East Asia.

    The synthesis of the Mongol and Han DNA, in the right quality and quantity, is ONLY, in the PRC .

  5. There was a pattern when china goes for aggression
    1. China attacked India in 1962 when there was Cuban missile crisis and the whole world was scared there will be 3rd world war.
    2. China president Xi assured US that they will not militarize South China sea islets, but only build navigational infrastructure for helping ships.But China reneged on this commitment to China.
    That was the time US got entangled in Syria, Iraq, Iran , Afghanistan, Russia and Ukraine’s crisis’s.
    3. It picked on India when whole world is fighting Corona crisis.
    China is Fox waiting at the pits forever waiting for dead bodies
    Or vulture looking for dead bodies.
    Coming to India , it is soft target compared to Taiwan.
    Chinese motto is grab when enemy is weak, step back when enemy is strong.
    India’s greatest follies are
    Nehru’s non alignment which fetched no support in I962 war.Only when Chinese came up to Gauhati then Nehru ran to US.
    Modi’s folly is multi vector diplomacy will not fetch any support , India will get weapons from our friends.
    There is no deterrence. For Japan and Taiwan deterrence is there.
    We are weak at economy, military but boast about 130 crores over sized ego.
    That is the reason we crave for independent foreign policy.
    This is our biggest blunder .
    if Modi does not go for QUAD military alliance, China will keep on threatening.
    Because for China there are no rules, no principles, no settled borders.
    Everything is fair game.

    India should withdraw from AIIB and SCO.
    India should kick out Chinese companies
    India should cut down imports
    India should publicly announce quad alliance and coordinate along with US and Japan start
    a)Supply chain relocation
    b)Joint 5g, AI group to overtake china
    c)Set up joint cyber attack group
    d)Set up similar to 5 EYES group

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