Doklam, BRICS and Beyond: Assessing China’s Response
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 03 Oct , 2017

Options for India and the Asia-Pacific Region

India would need to carefully construct its geo-political and geo-strategic framework within this region, utilising geo-economic outreach with likeminded middle powers, like Japan. It should provide an alternate narrative for economic growth for these regions that does not place the smaller nations in a debt trap – something that Sri Lanka and Myanmar are facing in their geo-economic dealings with China. The vast geopolitical trust that India enjoys within these regions should be built upon to create an ‘Asia-Pacific’ regional geo-economic and geo-political forum to strengthen the geo-strategic clout of this grouping.

This needs a ‘phased adaptive’ approach to achieve. The first step could be a ‘Coalition of Middle Powers’, with India, Japan, Indonesia and other likeminded powers of the region, to provide the smaller nations support from ‘geo-economic blackmail’. This Coalition needs to provide an alternate narrative for the economic and infrastructure growth of the region leading to better inter-connectivity and social cohesion. The ‘Asia-Pacific Regional Forum’ that would further this cohesion with broad regional economic, political, diplomatic and security architecture would follow later.

Internally India needs to carefully calibrate its approach to ensure a transparent and equitable growth across the extant social, religious and economic divides. A firm and mature handling of the divisive forces would be the need of the hour, along with a pro-active counter-narrative for perception management in the print, electronic and social media to blunt attempts at fomenting internal turmoil.


Michael Pillsbury, in his book ‘The Hundred Years Marathon’, opines that the marathon strategy that China’s leaders are pursuing today- and have been pursuing for decades, is largely a product of lessons derived from the Warring State[14]. The 36 Ancient Strategies of China were compiled from these lessons and the ancient game of ‘Wei Qi’ was much followed during those times, and still is very popular in China – it draws its lessons from both to achieve its present day geo-strategic, geo-political and geo-economic goals. It has derived its concept of ‘Unrestricted Warfare’[15] ( based on the Western examples of ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’ to retain their global hold), which it combines with the above to ensure it achieves the objectives and develop its Comprehensive National Power, to the detriment of other challengers.

China has had to retreat, ignomiously, from the Doklam faceoff after having raised the temperatures by its intemperate outbursts through its mouth piece, The Global Times, and its Foreign Office. The crass diplomacy may have gone down well with the populace to raise jingoist nationalism, but the pullback has left the masses feeling rather uncomfortable. Xi Jinping has had to sacrifice some key personnel from the CMC, but his push against India would likely increase gradually post the 19th Congress on 18th October 2017. He would utilise all domains to undermine India’s ‘shi’ and its Comprehensive National Power.

The aim would be to defeat or degrade the present government in the 2019 general elections thereby restricting India’s outreach in the region. Towards that end China would use media, political, legal, economic and psychological warfare tools to confront India with multiple internal and external problems. For this China would use its ‘deep connections’ within India in the political, socio-political hierarchy non-state actors,its geo-economic clout and the media, to achieve its objectives.

Indian government and the polity needs to carefully calibrate its responses both internally and externally to thwart these likely Chinese riposte. It needs to work with other ‘Middle Powers’ of the region to provide peace, stability and economic growth. It would lead to multi-polarity within Asia, act as a succor to the smaller nations and ensure that rule of international law, good governance, equality, transparency and economic prosperity for all is ensured within the region. It would also thwart China in its current trajectory, and force it to change its strategy for the larger good of the region, thereby providing an actual ‘Win-Win’ situation for all.

[1]Strategies of Ancient China, 2008/11/36-strategies-of-ancient-china-overview.html

[2]BRICS Leaders Xiamen Declaration, Para 44, pp21, Xiamen, China, 4 September 2017,

[3]Strategies of Ancient China, ibid 

[4]War hero promoted to PLA’s Chief of Staff’, China Daily, August 28, 2017,

[5]BRICS Leaders Xiamen Declaration, ibid

[6]‘ Three Ranking Chinese Officers Face Questioning by Authorities’, Daisuke Nishimura, The Asahi Shimbun, 02 Sep 2017,

[7] Xi pledges ‘great renewal of Chinese nation’,, 29 Nov 2012

[8]中国梦 (zhongguomeng): Chinese Dream,,

[9]Strategies of Ancient China, ibid

[10]‘Has the BRICS bubble burst?’, Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, 27 Mar 2016,

[11]Strategies of Ancient China, ibid

[12]Senior Colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, Beijing: PLA Literature and Arts Publishing House, February 1999

[13]Strategies of Ancient China, ibid

[14]Michael Pillsbury, The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Strategy to replace America as the Global Super Power, St. Martin’s Griffin; Reprint edition (15 March 2016), pg 34

[15]Senior Colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, op cit

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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

Maj Gen Rajiv Narayanan, AVSM, VSM

Retired after 37 years of distinguished service, as the ADGMO (B) in 2016,having been closely involved with Future Strategy, Force Structures and Force Modernisation.

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One thought on “Doklam, BRICS and Beyond: Assessing China’s Response

  1. Chinese Strategies , explained beautifully, … It is here we have to resolve the debacle caused 55 yrs ago … with reference to the Strategies 10 and 18 …. The roadmap though is too long for India, we should not trust Chinese in any case ….

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