Geopolitics

The Concept of Whole Situation and China’s Strategic Decision Making
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 27 Jun , 2020

Despite the existence of agreed mechanisms in place why would China indulge in initiating a risky operation that has the potential to cause irreversible damage to the finely crafted bilateral relationship with India? According to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs this situation could have been avoided had the provisions of the border agreement been followed.

However, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson (20 June) – “since April this year, the Indian border troops have unilaterally and continuously built roads, bridges and other facilities at the LAC in the Galwan Valley. China has lodged representations and protests on multiple occasions but India has gone even further to cross the LAC and make provocations”[25].

…one needs to ask; what would be the consequences for China ‘if it did not do what it did’?

In order to answer this question one needs to ask; 1) what would be the consequences for China ‘if it did not do what it did’? The answer to this research question was partly delivered by the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on 20 June – “By the early morning of May 06, the Indian border troops, who have crossed the LAC by night and trespassed into China’s territory, have built fortification and barricades, which impeded the patrol of Chinese border troops. They deliberately made provocations in an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo of control and management. The Chinese border troops have been forced to take necessary measures to respond to the situation on the ground and strengthen management and control in the border areas”[26].

While the assertion of – Indian Army trespassed into China’s territory – is contestable given the fluid nature of the LAC,the other facts mentioned by the Chinese spokesperson,(1) ….in response to the strong demand of the Chinese side, India agreed to withdraw the personnel who crossed the LAC and demolish the facilities, and so they did; and (2) On June 6….the Indian side promised that they would not cross the estuary of the Galwan River to patrol and build facilities and the two sides would discuss and decide phased withdrawal of troops through the meetings between commanders on the ground need verification.

Second, what is the association between Galwan Valley and the Chinese interpretation of the ‘whole situation’? A hypothetical answer to these questions can be deciphered from President Xi Jinping’s message to conference on Belt and Road international cooperation on 18 June – “The right approach to tackling global crises and realizing long-term development is through greater connectivity, openness, and inclusiveness”- a significant aspect of China’s overall situation. Furthermore, on 18 June, in a teleconference with the members of the Central Military Commission (CMC) President Xi stressed on improving strategic management to promote high-quality development of the armed forces[27].

During the parliamentary debates (Lok Sabha, Lower House)on Article 370 and Jammu and Kashmir (reorganization), 2019 in (August 2019) the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah aggressively stated that, “….when I say Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Aksai Chin comes within this….I will explain….I am aggressive….will sacrifice our lives for this cause”. For China, one of its most important connectivity project [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor {CPEC}] – although redundant from a strategic perspective – runs through PoK. Furthermore, from a geo-strategic perspective CPEC is – otherwise geographically cursed China’s gateway to the Indian Ocean.Following the dismantling of Article 370, India’s Foreign Minister Dr. Jaishankar stated, “….on PoK, yes, our position on PoK is, has always been very clear, PoK is part of India and we expect one day we will have physical jurisdiction over it…”

…an analysis based on the concept of whole situation indicates this incident as a sought of victory [subjective] for India. This incident puts an end to ‘China’s Peaceful Rise’ theory for once and all…

With a majority in Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Modi has been in a position to take such decisions related to India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity which have been delayed for multiple reasons in the past. Being land neighbours such decisions have had an impact on China’s subjective understanding of its whole/overall situation and hence are a key factor behind China’s behavior. Factors such as; 1) India’s improved capability along the LAC, 2) military modernization, 3) military relations with the US, 4) infrastructure development etc. derive its meaning consequential to China’s whole situation through the position that Prime Minister Modi holds as the leader of majoritarian government. It’s not just China, but also the opposition parties in India that have been critical of the present government’s foreign policy initiatives given their limited power in Lok Sabha to influence it[28].

Indian Foreign Minister’s statement that this incident was a ‘pre-meditated’ and a ‘planned’ act on part Chinese military establishes the fact that India stood surprised on 16th June[29]. In other words, India was not expecting such an incident. However, an analysis based on the concept of whole situation indicates this incident as a sought of victory [subjective] for India. This incident puts an end to ‘China’s Peaceful Rise’ theory for once and all – the core component of China’s subjective evaluation of its rise in the world arena.

According to Mao Zedong, “Out of the contest there emerge a victor and the vanquished; apart from the contrast in objective material conditions, the victor will necessarily owe his success to correct subjective direction and the vanquished his defeat to erroneous subjective direction”[30]. India must remain focused on its core objective with respect to its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Footnotes:

[1]“Media must refrain from speculative reporting on India-China talks: Indian Army” Doordarshan (DD) News, 06 June, 2020. Available at http://ddnews.gov.in/national/media-must-refrain-speculative-reporting-india-china-talks-indian-army [Available at 07 June, 2020]. Aakbar Patel (2020), “In Ladakh India appears to have given up the military option” The National Herald, 07 June. Available at https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/opinion/in-ladakh-india-appears-to-have-given-up-the-military-option [Accessed on 10 June, 2020].

[2]Manjeet Singh Negi (2020), “Ladakh standoff talks: India asks China to restore April status at LAC, China says stop roadwork” India Today, 06 June. Available at https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/lac-talks-with-china-end-indian-military-commanders-to-brief-army-top-brass-1686253-2020-06-06 [Available at 07 June, 2020]

[3]Deng Xiaoci (2020), “China-India border meeting injects hopes to ease tension; ‘bottom line’ with India non-negotiable: experts” Global Times, 06 June. Available at https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1190725.shtml [Accessed on 07 June, 2020].

[4]HT Correspondent (2020), “‘China did not enter our territory, no posts taken’: PM at all-party meet on Ladakh clash” Hindustan Times, 19 June. Available at https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/chinese-troops-did-not-enter-our-territory-says-pm-modi-at-all-party-meeting-on-ladakh-standoff/story-QGgGUyL3sVRYB7mp3Y8bBI.html [Accessed on 20 June, 2020]

[5]Shishir Gupta (2020), “India, China disengage at Ladakh standoff points, commanders to meet tomorrow” Hindustan Times, 10 June. Available at https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/chinese-troops-at-standoff-points-in-ladakh-s-galwan-valley-start-thinning-out-india-also-reciprocates. [Accessed on 10 June, 2020]

[6]Weibo [欸波]

[7]Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPR9UyoN-tw [Accessed on 13 June, 2020].

[8]Dinakar Peri (2020), “LAC standoff | India-China border meeting sets stage for more talks” The Hindu, 07 June. Available at https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lac-standoff-india-china-border-meeting-sets-stage-for-more-talks/article31769724.ece [Accessed on 07 June, 2020]

[9]Shishir Gupta (2020), “India, China disengage at Ladakh standoff points, commanders to meet tomorrow” Hindustan Times, 10 June. Available at https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/chinese-troops-at-standoff-points-in-ladakh-s-galwan-valley-start-thinning-out-india-also-reciprocates [Accessed on 10 June, 2020]

[10]“Another Balakot? Karachi blackout leads to Twitter chatter about IAF attack” India Today, 10 June. Available at indiatoday.in/world/story/another-balakot-karachi-blackout-leads-to-twitter-chatter-about-iaf-attack-1687480-2020-06-10 [Accessed on 10 June, 2020]

[11]Suhasini Haidar and Dinakar Peri (2020), “Ladakh face-off | Days after clash, China frees 10 Indian soldiers” The Hindu, 19 June. Available at https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ladakh-face-off-days-after-clash-china-frees-10-indian-soldiers/article31863845.ece?utm_source=email&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Newsletter [Accessed on 19 June, 2020]; EurAsian Times Desk (2020), “10 Indian Soldiers Released By China; ‘No Indian Troops’ Under Chinese Custody Now” The EurAsian Times, 19 June. Available at https://eurasiantimes.com/10-indian-soldiers-released-by-china-no-indian-troops-under-chinese-custody-now/ [Accessed on 20 June, 2020].

[12]Qian Feng (2020), “Hegemonic nature of US Indo-Pacific Strategy exposed” Global Times, 16 June. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CWLi0aWB00 [Accessed on 18 June 2020].

[13]Joel Wuthnow, Satu Limaye, and Nilanthi Samaranayake (2018), “Doklam, One Year Later: China’s Long Game in the Himalayas” War on the Rocks, 07 June. Available at https://warontherocks.com/2018/06/doklam-one-year-later-chinas-long-game-in-the-himalayas/ [Accessed on 07 June, 2020]

[14]Jeffrey Gettleman, Javier C. Hernandez., Hari Kumar (2020), “China and India Agree to Ease Tensions in Border Dispute” The New York Times, 28 August. Available at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/28/world/asia/china-india-standoff-withdrawal.html [Accessed on 07 June, 2020].

[15]“1,600 Chinese troops still hold position near Doklam faceoff site” Hindustan Times, 12 December, 2017. Available at https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/1-600-chinese-troops-still-hold-position-near-doklam-faceoff-site/story-voTcOIfwvwRJ48c3mMoG1O.html [Accessed on 07 June, 2020].

[16]“China building helipads, sentry posts, trenches in Doklam area: Nirmala Sitharamn” Times of India, 05 March, 2018. Available at https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/china-building-helipads-sentry-posts-trenches-in-doklam-area-nirmala-sitharaman/articleshow/63173379.cms [Accessed on 07 June, 2020].

[17]Col. Vinayak Bhat (Retd), “China has quietly altered its boundary with Bhutan after Doklam stand-off with India” The Print, 8 October. Available at https://theprint.in/defence/china-has-quietly-altered-its-boundary-with-bhutan-after-doklam-stand-off-with-india/130148/ [Accessed on 10 June, 2020]

[18]Snehesh Alex Philip (2019), “China & Bhutan close to striking Doklam deal, holding line could become working boundary” The Print, 07 October. Available at https://theprint.in/defence/china-bhutan-close-to-striking-doklam-deal-holding-line-could-become-working-boundary/302273/ [Accessed on 10 June, 2020]

[19]Sandip Unnithan (2014), “Henderson Brooks report lists the guilty men of 1962” India Today, 18 March. Available at https://www.indiatoday.in/indSia/story/the-guilty-men-of-1962-india-china-war-jawahar-lal-nehru-krishna-menon-185333-2014-03-18 [Accessed on 07 June, 2020]

[20]Deepshika Gosh (2020), “”Chinese Occupied Indian Territory…” Ladakh BJP MP Rebuts Rahul Gandhi” NDTV, 10 June. Available at https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/chinese-occupied-indian-territory-bjps-ladakh-mp-jamyang-tsering-namgyal-replies-to-rahul-gandhi-2243666 [Accessed on 10 June, 2020]

[21]Zhao Lijian (2020), “China says overall situation on border with India ‘stable, controllable” People’s Daily, 17 June.

[22]Liu Xiaoxue (2020), “India should curb ‘boycott China’ voices after border clash” Global Times, 17 June. Available at https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1191935.shtml [Accessed on 19 June, 2020];“Rising Indian nationalism will harm business ties” Global Times, 18 June. Available at https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1192106.shtml [Accessed on 19 June, 2020].

[23]“Sovereignty of Galwan Valley area has always belonged to China: Chinese Foreign Ministry” The Economic Times, 17 June, 2020. Available at https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/sovereignty-of-galwan-valley-area-has-always-belonged-to-china-chinese-foreign-ministry/videoshow/76423073.cms [Accessed on 19 June, 2020]

[24]Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas, Available at https://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/CN%20IN_930907_Agreement%20on%20India-China%20Border%20Areas.pdf [Accessed on 19 June, 2020]

[25]“Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Gave a Step-by-Step Account of the Galwan Valley Incident” 20 June, 2020. Available at in.china-embassy.org/eng/embassy_news/t1790579.htm# [Accessed on 20 June, 2020]

[26]Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Gave a Step-by-Step Account of the Galwan Valley Incident” 20 June, 2020. Available at in.china-embassy.org/eng/embassy_news/t1790579.htm# [Accessed on 20 June, 2020]

[27]“Xi stresses improving strategic management of armed forces” Global Times, 18 June, 2020. Available at https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1192082.shtml [Accessed on 20 June, 2020].

[28]Rajesh Ramachandran (2020), “Crises of India’s own making Be it China or Nepal, we have allowed rhetoric to subvert diplomacy” Tribune India, 20 June. Available at https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/crises-of-indias-own-making-101571 [Accessed on 20 June, 2020].

[29]Geeta Mohan (2020), “A pre-meditated attack by China: EAM Jaishankar tells Chinese counterpart” India Today, 18 June. Available at https://www.indiatoday.in/mail-today/story/premeditated-attack-by-china-foreign-minister-jaishankar-tells-chinese-counterpart-1690147-2020-06-18 [Accessed on 20 June, 2020].

[30]Cited in Stuart Reynolds Schram (2004), Volume VI The New Stage: Mao’s Road to Power: The pre-Marxist period, 1912-1920, M E Sharpe: London.

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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

Dr Sundaram Rajasimman

Dr. Rajasimman Sundaram teaches history, politics, and culture and a member of the BRICS Advanced Studies Institute at Sichuan International Studies University [四川外国语大学] (Chongqing, People’s Republic of China).

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2 thoughts on “The Concept of Whole Situation and China’s Strategic Decision Making

  1. Wow. If you have a problem…why dont you write to the PM or other officials.
    This long hate speech…ridiculous man.
    Are you working for China or Pakistan?
    If you are Indian you wont spewing so much negative nonsense. You need to go and meditate or something.
    It is not healthy.
    Let us say you are right. So what if they dont do anything?. Ignore. Go on with your life.
    Why take stress?
    Please dont post so much negative ranting and that tirade online. You are not helping yourself or hurting anyone either.

  2. Wow…I almost got lost in this long article and what it intended to convey.
    The last paragraph is relevant. To the tile of this article. Others have written about what you have also.
    Thank you.

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