Dragon Misfires, Misreads India’s Military Resolve  

by Aaina - Jun 22, 2020 06:06 PM +05:30 IST
Dragon Misfires, Misreads India’s Military Resolve  Xi Jinping (Wikimedia Commons)
Snapshot
  • India is emerging as one of the biggest threats in the Communist vision of creating a uni-polar world, with China at its centre.

    Stopping India now, else it becomes too big for China to manage in the next 10 years, is what explains China’s diplomatic and military missteps.

Ladakh is a useless, uninhabitable land. Not a blade of grass grows there. We did not even know where it was.
Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in his statement to the Parliament as China occupied Aksai Chin
India’s integrity and sovereignty is supreme for us, and no one can stop us from defending it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement in the aftermath of China’s military action at the LAC

The two statements marked by a difference of 58 years in between, indicate the shift in India’s China policy in response to the dragon’s unwarranted aggression.

By dismissing the nation’s territory as nothing but ‘barren land’, for years, India’s claim on thousands of square km of strategic landmass was ceded to China.

While China built road and bridge infrastructure to strengthen its claim in parts of Ladakh, the Congress leadership chose to remain a mute spectator. For them, not defining a border between the two nations was the best they could do to defend India.As laughable as it sounds, this became our only strategic defence.

Till then, for China, India was a huge market to dump its goods and an important cog to patronise, to show its ‘peaceful rise’ in Asia. To contain India’s rise and also safeguard its maritime interests, it built commercial and military assets encircling India in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Therefore, without having to fire a single bullet or resorting to border conflict, China kept India in check, strategically and economically.However, this was pre-2014.

In 2017, it is for the first time that it faced an assertive India, which it wasn’t really prepared for.

China wanted India to join its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), meant to create a seamless trade route connecting Central Asia to Europe.

But India refused, and rightly so, as China's BRI undermined India's sovereignty in the form of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that passed through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (mainly Gilgit-Baltistan region).This was the first jolt to Xi-Jinping’s ambition to emerge as an uncontested power in Asia and the world.

The second jolt came with the Doklam standoff. For 73 days, India held its ground, putting a halt to road-building activity by the Chinese.

By refusing to blink, it delivered a stern message to China — that India will not tolerate any attempt by China to unilaterally alter the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The Doklam incident, for the first time, made China realise that it was unable to read the Indian mindset.

The third jolt has come as recently as 2020, at a time when there has been growing clamour among the world community to have China pay for its suppression of information that led to the spread of Coronavirus.

Till now, China, known for its well-oiled propaganda machinery, relied on money vaults to buy favourable public opinion. But, with the pandemic affecting each and everyone in the world, the China problem has become personal. There is increasing resentment and a trust deficit for an authoritarian state seeped in secrecy and deception.

India, on the other hand, has come across as a mature democracy, willing to go an extra mile to show its commitment towards the collective good.

The government of the day, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, by insisting on a self-reliant India, has signalled to the world that it is ready to do business.

In the wake of global opinion becoming increasingly wary of Chinese opaqueness in dealing with Covid-19, humanitarian violations in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Tibet, as well as its tendency to bully smaller nations, and trade off their sovereignty with the shining dreams of economic development, international companies, too, are being compelled to take flight and find an alternative.

The last few years have been a wake-up call for China. Frustrated with India’s growing international heft, while its own credibility takes a dive, the pushed Communist state has been pushed to alter its India strategy.

However, its amateurish response to the Galwan Valley battle and its denial demonstrates a lack of understanding of India’s political leadership.

India, on its part, has gone against its earlier response of avoiding direct confrontation with China and allowing it to rewrite the LAC unilaterally.

It has been able to foresee the Chinese threat and prepare itself accordingly. Extensively scaling up border infrastructure, disengaging from China-dominated projects that do not serve Indian interests, countering the Chinese ‘String of Pearls’, partnering with other nations to counter-balance China’s maritime claims and emerging as a manufacturing and start-up hub, the Indian leadership is covering all bases to create equilibrium in the geo-strategic power-play.

It is no surprise, then, that China is heightening tensions with India, while also making diplomatic manoeuvres to not let the conflict escalate to an extent that it ends up burning its own bridges.

China has done the mistake of undermining India’s ambition under the Modi government, once.

At every point, India is emerging as one of the biggest threats in the grand Communist vision of creating a uni-polar world, with China at its centre.

Stopping India now, else it becomes too big for China to manage in the next 10 years, is what explains China’s diplomatic and military missteps.

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