Those who win every battle are not really skilful – those who render other armies helpless without fighting are the best of all
Sun Tzu – The Art of War
The above statement seems to be the sum and substance of the tactics employed by Chinese against India when it comes to the LAC. The “salami slicing” tactics by China has continued unabated since a long time. They have been creeping westward of the LAC on a sly, without getting into a war with India and without shedding even a drop of blood. India’s deferential attitude towards China was obvious and China exploited that to the full. During UPA regime, China reportedly grabbed over 600 square km of land. China chipping away at the LAC and India’s passive response, possibly gave an indication of its tacit acceptance of China’s superiority in the region. That then, seemed to be the actual ‘status quo’ at the operational level on the ground. However, that was before Doklam happened!
When India, having given a free hand to its armed forces, pushed back China from Doklam in 2017, it was a tectonic shift in the ‘status quo’ in Indo-China relations. It would have definitely shook the Chinese but they probably thought it to be a one-off incident. Therefore, after reinforcing resources, they continued with their ‘salami slicing’ tactics in April-May of this year and perhaps to also restore the “status quo ante” but then Galwan happened…..it was Doklam redux…only this time it was bloody and China suffered much higher casualties than India as per estimates. However, China did intrude in areas at Pangong Tso, Gogra and Depsang areas.
China’s deceitful attitude has been on display again. While the military level discussions had been going on, China again tried to intrude in a few areas in Pangong Tso and Chushul sectors. However, India successfully not only repulsed the Chinese but also assumed control of a few strategic heights in these unmanned areas earlier, thereby giving the Chinese a taste of their own medicines in the last few days. Hence, India is determined this time to maintain and reinforce its new ‘status quo’ that it achieved at Doklam and Galwan.
One of the other key tools in China’s warfare strategy is PR propaganda. It exploits media to highlight its exaggerated prowess to intimidate opponents so much that they lay down their arms before even a shot is fired. Its controlled media then goes on to provide unsolicited open advice to join hands with China, accept its hegemony and in the process reap economic benefits while China also gives a guarantee to maintain peace and tranquillity at its borders. However, the deals packaged as economic benefits, are actually killer debt traps to the extent that the sovereignty of the countries is put at risk. In that respect, China is the neo-imperialist force of the world today. However, as far as India is concerned, if we consider its recent aggressive moves at the LAC, it is having none of the Chinese propaganda.
The main ploy in a game of Chess is to surround the opponent from all sides, isolate him and eventually defeat him. While Chess finds its roots in India, the Chinese seems to have by hearted the lessons and applied them on us. Recently, China held a joint meeting with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal and urged resumptions of its pet BRI projects and in return, it promised to supply the COVID vaccines to these countries whenever they are ready. Similarly, China has been building economic relations with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh too to check mate India.
However, in its neighbourhood too, India has played smartly. Recently, Sri Lanka openly stated to have an ‘India first’ policy and they have even regretted to have gone ahead on their port project with China. India is strengthening ties with Bangladesh and huge impetus has been recently giving to connectivity projects. Nepal, after the recent hiccups, has been reaching out to India. Pakistan has been successfully isolated and Afghanistan recognises the critical role India plays in its development.
On the other hand, India is hitting China where it will hurt it the most, its pockets. While banning of Chinese Apps and strict control on its investments in India, which may not account for much for China, however, India’s decisions have triggered similar reactions across the developed nations, which in all probability will significantly harm China’s economic interests in the future.
Moving forward, India needs to start reaching out and form coalitions with China’s neighbours like Taiwan, Vietnam etc., troubled as they too are by China’s territorial ambitions. It needs to invigorate the Quad (partnership between India, US, Japan & Australia) and quickly initiate joint military exercises in the region which have right now only been on the discussion tables.
China has been violating the Panchsheel agreement by instigating our neighbours against us all this while. To top it all, it openly supported Pakistan in its unsuccessful attempt to raise the issue of the abrogation of Article 370 at the UN in 2019. Hence, India must start aggressively raising the genuine Human Rights violations committed by the Chinese on Uighurs of Xinjiang as well as the Tibetans. India needs to support openly, Dalai Lama’s stance on getting religious and cultural autonomy for Tibetans. We must strongly oppose China’s brazen meddling in the selection process of Dalai Lama’s successor.
Now that the USA has started calling out China as a rogue nation, India needs to seize this opportunity, step up the heat and push for the restructuring of the UN Security Council. Since US has taken such a strong anti-China stance, it frankly, is now in an embarrassing position of sitting at the same table as China, as a permanent member of the Security Council. India needs to exploit this unease and build advocacy for a review of China’s eligibility as the permanent member of the Security Council. This is a great opportunity for India to initiate and push for key reforms at UN.
If we aspire to become big, we need to think & act big! More importantly, we need to do this to uphold the values of equality, compassion, free thought & expression and human dignity. We need to stop the hegemonic intentions of an unjust neighbour and unequivocally challenge and call out its nefarious designs. Of course, China is stronger than we are, hence, we need to punch above our weight and be more agile as well as nimble. We need to take the lead in stopping China in its steps. We have the right reasons to do so, we have the just cause to fight for and we know that we will get support…it is time now for us to show that we have it in us to be a “Vishwa Guru”!
Submitted by : Randeep Singh Sisodia
Date: Sept 2, 2020