The latest squeamish between the Indian and Chinese troops at Pangong Tso Lake, must not be looked upon as a simple border issue. This is a brick in the new wall that China is building to counter the growing global pressure on its actions, and the demand for accountability and repercussions on China by the global community. Several incidences like these are likely to happen not only in India, but across several places in the world.
To understand how China reacts and responds, one needs to understand that the Chinese are an ancient civilization, that were one of the four original ancient civilizations in the world, originating from pre 3,000 BC.
From forming their first dynasty rule (Xia Dynasty) in 1600 BC, followed Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han and Zin dynasties; China’s dynasty rule broke up into states for a nearly 300 years (300–600 AD). Subsequently, for a short period the Sui Dynasty took over, to be soon replaced by the Tang Dynasty, which ruled China almost till 900 AD. Following which China once again split into separate states ruled by different respective dynasties. It was then near 1470, that the Ming Dynasty took over the rule of entire China, and ruled for the next 300 years or so.
The Ming Dynasty was then replaced by the Qing Dynasty that enjoyed the power for the next 250 years.
Qing Dynasty, in 1912 gave way to the formation of ‘Republic of China’, through a civil war. However, this republic could not be established firmly throughout China, and infighting along with civil unrest continued.
In 1949, the ‘Peoples Republic of China’ was formed, with a Communist philosophy of governance.
This school of thought taken from the teachings of Karl Marx, was adapted to the Chinese culture that was predominantly governed by its ancient history and Confucius teachings. However, with the ending of the second world war in 1945, former allies the USA and Soviet Union turned adversaries, resulting in the commencement of the ‘Cold War’ in 1947, that lasted till 1991.
In 1949, led by USA, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was formed with countries pledging alliance with the USA. This block believed in democratic values, free trade and open economy, largely driven by values of Capitalism.
As a retaliatory action the Soviet Union, along with its own allies created a block under an agreement that has been known as the ‘Warsaw Pact’. These set of nations led by the Soviet Union, believed and followed the doctrine of Communism.
China, aligned itself with the Soviet Union.
As the Cold War progressed over time, the NATO nations started progressing and developed themselves into prosperous societies, having good infrastructure, advanced education, developed healthcare, robust industry and low unemployment.
Compared to which, the Communist block countries were struggling on almost all of the above parameters, creating currents of unrest, fear and uncertainty within themselves.
China, although not an official member of the Warsaw Pact, had been aligned with the Soviet Union, and had become the second most powerful member of the communist block. However, with the future of Communism itself being under threat of extinction; China, decided to move away from the traditional approach of Communism, and open its economic policy in 1978.
Eventually, in just over a decade the ‘Fall of Communism’ happened in 1989, and the formal collapse of the Soviet Union, China’s mail ally took place in 1991. China was left alone.
Democracy, is best described as a ‘Government of the people, by the people and for the people’; wherein majority public opinion, desire and choice are valued; and decisions taken in accordance.
While as per Karl Marx, Communism embraces the concept of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”; leaving the decision of defining ‘need’, to the ruling authority. This takes away the option of ‘opinion and choice’ from an individual.
In line with this doctrine, China that was following Communism, unofficially started to transform itself into a party controlled, open economy; where in the party control is centralized to a few, and focused on ‘one’, which put in mild terms, would be a ‘Disguised Dictatorship’ model.
Keeping in line with this format of governance, and the emerging trends of the decline of Communism; China, commencing from 1978, took proactive steps to secure its future. In 1979, the ‘one child’ policy was introduced. 1980, saw the introduction of China’s first ‘special Economic Zone’ with flexible market policies
This model eventually led China to become, the manufacturing hub of the world.
With turbulent times ahead, China too faced several setbacks from early 1980s till 1990, that included the incident at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
The 1990s saw China in a new avatar, 1990 witnessed the opening of Shanghai Stock Exchange, 1992 the markets were further liberalized under government watch, 1997 Hongkong returns to China, 2001 China joins WTO, 2003 SARS epidemic breaks out, 2005 China becomes world’s fourth largest economy leaving behind Britain, France and Italy.
2006 China’s exports dominate the world, FOREX reserve crosses US$ 1 Trillion, the highest in the world, at that point of time. A lot of this growth can be attributed to the global market, where knowingly or unknowingly a huge trade imbalance was permitted to take place.
2008, China presents itself to the world in the form of Beijing Olympics.
(Only some of the major points have been mentioned here in order to restrict the length of this article)
China was now ready to claim its spot as a ‘super power’, and was ready to lock horns with USA.
In 2008, the GDP of USA was US$ 14.7 Trillion, while China had a GDP of US$ 4.6 Trillion. However, as of 2019, in just over a decade, USA’s GDP was US$ 21.3 Trillion, whereas China was catching up fast at US$ 14.2 Trillion. (World Bank Statistics)
Realizing its success in narrowing its gap with USA on the economic front, China now started nurturing an ambition of rivaling with USA, as the world’s leading super power. China also understands that confronting the Americans with traditional time-tested methods of engagement will not reap rich and quick dividends. This is where China falls upon its ancient philosophy that has been passed on from generation to generation.
Sun Tzu, a Chinese General, who lived 500 BCE, had delivered a manuscript that we today know as ‘Art of War’. The Chinese even in present time fall back upon strategies mentioned in this manuscript, and adapt them to today’s modern times.
So, it is not surprising that the Chinese have embarked upon the exercise to dethrone USA from it position as the world’s leading super power, using all strategies of engagement and deceit that are mentioned in the ‘Art of War’.
The Chinese strategy is simple and straight forward. So simple, so straight forward that it is not easily noticeable. Further the Chinese believe in deploying all means to realize their ambition, after all ‘All is fair in Love and War’. China’s multiprong strategy involves in identifying nations as clusters. The first cluster are nations that share a common border, or are in close proximity to China.
The second cluster comprises of nations that are geographically far from China, this cluster is divided into two segments. The first being larger and economically developing nations, the second are the under developed nations.
The third cluster is formed of nations that are the ‘first world’ countries.
China has a definite strategy, that it has already been pursuing for more three decades, to address all of these different grouping of nations. In order to effectively implement its strategy, China relies on three of its core strengths. Which is the size of China (both in terms of land mass, and in terms of population), it’s dominance on global manufacturing, and finally on its growing economic strength.
China knows that the three of these core strengths, put together, gives China the aura of being an all-powerful giant, which it has successfully branded as ‘The Dragon’. For the first group of countries; China shares its borders with 14 countries. Apart from Russia and North Korea, China has border confrontations with all other 12 countries, where it is claiming stake to land masses belonging to these countries.
In addition, China has geographic proximity, although not sharing borders with almost 12 other countries.
China engages with these countries with its military might as its primary weapon, and its economic clout as its secondary weapon; with India being an exception; where economic warfare is the primary mode of engagement, and clandestine military operation are the secondary mode.
With the second group of countries, where they are not in any kind of geographic proximity with China; China uses its dominance in the global market and supply chain of raw material and finished goods as its leverage, specially for the nations that have relatively sound economies. It also used covert / clandestine operations to install Beijing favorable regimes in these countries.
However, for developing nations, China simply uses its economic muscle to buy them out, mostly through debt traps.
The third and final cluster, is that of developed nations. Nations who are politically mature, and have robust economies. Here, China seeks favors for Chinese companies and aims at increasing the trade imbalance. As here China realizes that its strong-arm tactics would be futile.
This is the cluster which China primarily attacks with deceit. For the Chinese, ‘Deceit’ is an all-encompassing verb. Be it political, economic, military or prohibited arsenal (under the Geneva Convention)
(The Protocol for the Prohibition of the ‘Use in War’ of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological ‘Methods of Warfare’, usually known as Geneva Protocol, is a treaty prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons in international armed conflicts).
The word used in the Geneva Protocol is “armed conflict”, what if the conflict is “unarmed”?
The easiest, fastest and most direct method of weakening these nations is to bring their economy to a standstill, while China can grow its economy rapidly and make up ground at an exponential pace.
Even if it meant using biological warfare; as the words used in the wording of Geneva Protocol is “Armed”, hence it the protocol will not apply to an “unarmed” conflict.
The COVID-19, strategic approach, perhaps might have just worked; had it not for some step gone terribly wrong. Wherein, the entire process went out of control, resulting in a global disaster.
However, the strategy seems to have made up some ground for China.
Whereas USA, has been termed to have entered into a recession in March 2020 itself; by certain economists (Business Standard), India will be the fastest-growing this year at 2.1 %, China and Indonesia will grow at 1 % in 2020, EIU forecast said (Financial Express).
This makes it apparent, that China is using all methods at its disposal, both fair practices and illegal crafts, to achieve its ambition of global dominance.
However, this time it seems that the Dragon has swallowed more than it can chew. China, would have never imagined a direct attack of accusation by the US President, and neither would it have imagined that a trigger by Australia, would make the entire European Union, and host of other countries; openly come out and confront China. The referendum presented and accepted by a collation of 123 countries at WHA, the governing body of WHO, did catch China off guard.
In addition to the above, the global community has finally realized the importance of eliminating China as the manufacturing hub of the world, and have decided to pull out their key assets from China. If China’s manufacturing is dented, one of its pillars of strength will fall, which possibly could result in widespread unemployment and unrest within the country. This would have a propensity of disrupting the current political structure within China.
China knows that the four key countries where organizations will probably shift their manufacturing operations to are India, Indonesia, Philippines, and Malaysia. China, will want to paint a picture of instability and insecurity for these countries in the mind of the prospective corporations who desire to shift their facilities.
India is witnessing an economic warfare and a clandestine military operation, being unleashed by China. The other three countries should also be guarded and be prepared to tackle the disruptions that China will create for them.
Amidst all of this pandemic, allegedly created by China, there is a silver lining.
In a time of dire distress like this, which the world has never before witnessed; nations across the world are uniting, sharing whatever they can, extending helping hands to each other; bringing the world closer, and forcing the world to recognize the truth … and more importantly act on it, as one.
Maybe, this time, the Dragon has grown too big for his shoes …. And the shoe bites back. Poor Dragon, forget running, or even walking, you might be just lucky if you manage to crawl.