The precipitous drop in the India-China relationship after the murder of 20 Indian soldiers, including a colonel, in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley is sure to vitiate people-to-people relationships between the only two large civilisations with an unbroken, 5,000-year history. The vicious attacks on India and Indians by some Chinese nationals, including bots, on Twitter and other social media sites is evidence of this.
This is not needed, and calls for a much better articulation of the Indian position on China than now. India is not at war with the Chinese people or even its corporations. India is at war with the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Just as the Second World War was not about other Europeans fighting the German people – though in a war that mental separation between people and their rulers is difficult to maintain – India should make it clear that this war is not against the Chinese people. India and China are unlikely to get into a full-blown long-term war, but it is India’s duty to do what it can to demolish the CPC in the eyes of its own people.
In 5,000 years of unbroken history, and thanks to the natural fence that the Himalayas provided, India and China never went to war. All our wars came from the west – and continues to be true even today. It is only after the Chinese became communist that the Himalayas could no longer protect us.
The 1962 war would probably never have happened if China had been ruled by Chiang Kai-Shek. Unfortunately, soon after the Second World War, the communists captured power in Beijing, and Chiang was reduced to ruling a small island now called Taiwan. Taiwan is a dangerous threat to China not because of its military might, but because the CPC is mortally scared of the idea of freedom that Taiwan (or Hong Kong, for that matter) represents.
The communists do not believe in democracy, nor do they believe in sharing power with anybody or in maintaining transparency in communications with their own people or the outside world. Leave out China’s nuclear arsenal, and the Communist Party would be no different from the National Socialist Party of Adolf Hitler.
The nuclear arsenal, and total control of all internal communications, together ensure that the outside world cannot effectively empower the Chinese to fight against the propaganda machine that their party is. The CPC is the enemy of the people, as was amply demonstrated during the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 – exactly the year when the Soviet Union could not prevent the destruction of the Berlin Wall and its own dethronement of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
The Communist Party of China drew the opposite lesson from the fall of the Berlin Wall: that it needed more walls, not less, than ever. It needed a wall to protect itself not only from outside enemies, but from its own people. It has, therefore, walled in its own people in a way in which even Stalin could not do.
The surprise is how effective this wall has been even in the Internet and social media age, where it is almost impossible to control the flow of information. Governments everywhere have been unable to do so, and have now learned to live with the fact the information flows will not only be from top to bottom, from leaders to the led, but also from bottom to top and sideways.
But China maintains such a huge army of bots and censors, that almost no outside information gets through. The Chinese get to hear only what its government wants it to hear.
China thus has two armies – the one that protects the borders and the CPC, and the information control army that prevents its own people from accessing information that threatens the CPC’s power.
It is not as if the Chinese are dumb citizens who don’t know what is being done to them in the name of nationalism and party discipline. However, they have chosen to keep quiet because of the unstated pact between the people and the party: the people will accept the party’s total control as long as they are free to become richer and prosperous.
It is this social contract that needs to be broken – and be seen to be broken – if China’s dictators are to be shown the door and the world made a safer place for all its citizens.
This actually supports the Indian argument that trade boycotts have to be a key part of the strategy to bring the Communist Party to its knees, and make it more accountable to its people. If the world shows the necessary gumption to start sanctioning China and reduce their dependence on Chinese products and components, the CPC will no longer be able to deliver on its social compact. It is surprising that the US is willing to sanction puny Iran or shrinking Russia, but not the T-Rex that threatens world peace.
It would be foolish for India to presume that this can be done all by itself. China can be contained only if there is an informal (or formal) alliance of democracies both in Asia and in the West against it.
Apart from whatever we may do on the border to avenge the deaths of 20 of our brave soldiers, our primary focus should be to organise an effective Indian downsizing of trade relations with China, and the building of a coalition of global partners to make this enforceable.
Just as Hitler was defeated only by a global coalition ranged against him, Xi Jinping and the thuggish party he runs can be defeated only through a similar global coalition to enforce trade and political sanctions against China. The Chinese people deserve better.
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