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50 years after 1971 war Uncle Sam switches the Tibet issue on

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Ankit Shah
Ankit Shah
Indo-Pacific Security & Foreign Policy Observer, Consultant, PhD scholar and Past Academic & Research Associate of IIM Ahmedabad. Follow his twitter handle @ankitatIIMA for China-Pak issues.

There are untold, behind the curtain scenes of before and after war. Leaders and strategists at the bare minimum must look at 300 years plus and minus before making a security policy. While most of the domain experts consider US foreign policy as transactional in nature, I see a greater game plan pattern in the last 50 years. Why is it a surprise if Rank 1 wants to pit Rank 2, 3 and 4 against each other while the three Asian giants also happen to be neighbours?

Let me explain why and how.

On 15th July, 1971 President Nixon officially established relations with China after using the good offices of Pakistan for months for the breakthrough. Kissinger personally delivered a taunt and a threat to the Indian Prime Minister.  Like a 30 days challenge, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi stormed with retaliation by signing the Indo-Soviet Treaty. Come December, she got Bangladesh liberated. India and USSR were now established giants on the political stage of the World. The soviet navy’s role in the war irritated the west a lot. More than that, China’s inaction despite encouragement from the US is what handed it a clue for weaving a bigger game plan. In effect, US put up a complete full stop on the training and funding of the Tibetans living as refugees in India. Fifty years from then in 2020, now US appoints a special Tibet representative and invites the in-exile President.

Rank 1 acts like a new Sherriff in town every point in time. It pins down whoever grows enough to challenge its position. It is important to note here that the US enjoys a pretty decent neighbourhood all the time. This is a critical factor which ensures steady growth and progress. Pitting neighbours against each other makes a lot of sense. China had 7000 years of on-record economic and cultural ties with India. Most of the Indian trade with China happened through the ports. There is not one instance in 7000 years where the Chinese captured or even claimed even a small piece of Indian land. Whereas it was the West which planned takeover immediately as soon as they found out Indian ports. So, Chinese culture has never been an expansionist culture. So, what we are facing in the last 50 years is the effects of Pakistan army and the Chinese communist party hijacking our neighbourhood. Who built them so strong?

UK and US saw USSR in Afghanistan and the newly independent India actually joining as a strong alliance by geography. They carved out a Pakistan in between using Islamists in India. This was not enough. To win the cold war with USSR, US propped up Pakistan army to run jihad war in Afghanistan and push the soviets out. In the same format they propped up the Chinese communist party against USSR and India. Entire Chinese economic monster for delivering products and services to the World was built by the West. The Chinese communist party was equipped and empowered with training and education to its cadres, mainly CCP leaders’ family members at the beginning in the West. Make no mistake, the technology theft of China was not something hidden from the intelligence agencies of the West. Nor were the human rights abuses perpetrated by CCP on its citizens for delivering cheap products to the world, neither the nuclear and defence proliferation tango between Pakistan, China and North Korea was hidden from the West. Nor was it unknown to the US that China was sponsoring students in security sensitive programs in the West, neither was it unaware that the CCP is giving away “gifts” to top US executives for conducting intellectual property thefts. The West trained entire CCP cadres in the West on how to run free-market economics of China while keeping communist format of the polity intact. To be frank and honest, Chinese economics is on the life-support of free trade benefits trickling from the West from the beginning and till date.

Entire economic miracle of China was basically spoon-fed by the West by creating vehicles like Taiwan and Hongkong as nodal agencies to ensure smooth flow of transactions with mainland China of communist character. All the while, Pakistan was also supported with all kinds of aid while it continued bleeding India and Soviets in Afghanistan with terror-nuisance. As a result, in the last 50 years the target of the collapse of the Soviet Union and bogging down India’s growth potential was achieved. The formula was copy-pasted all over the middle-east, be it Iran-Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Saudi-Iran and so on. The great game plan of pitting neighbours against each other worked really well.

What benefits did the West derive?

Huge war-time business of defence deals, arms development-testing areas and diplomacy potential with both the parties involved in the conflict. The West also became the investment parking lot of all the finances and corruption money of the rogue regimes, non-state actors and dictators while playing this game. Be it the Chinese communist party, Pakistan army or Saudi royals and so on, all the corruption money, wealth and investments got parked in the West due to power struggles at home. Their family members got educated and were equipped with golden visas for citizenship and travel by the West. I would not shy away from claiming that the CCP and Pakistan army’s rule and strength were entirely sponsored by the West.

The Turning point of the Great Game

With Xi Jinping’s appointment in the top office in 2012, the effect of economic strength started showing anti-US colours. The belligerence went on unabated. China grew bigger and monstrous with tremendous clout after significantly decimating Russia and India’s sphere of influences. Just then the economic repercussions started appearing in the West of being reduced to a net importer of products, services and capital to an irreversible level. Suddenly the West stopped supporting “secularism” concept vocally and started giving the ruling party in India direct access to the NRI assets. Suddenly the Pakistan army’s cadres became terrorists in the West and the CCP has become rogue actor for the Pentagon. Come 2020 and now after 50 long years, the US switches on the Tibet issue. The plan here on is to start propping up India and Russia against China and Pakistan. Mind well they finished off the USSR, now its China’s time and after closing the China chapter in few decades, it will be India’s turn.

Delhi needs to be very, very alert

To put it in perspective, the median average age of the Indian population stands at 28 today. Next 1.5 centuries we will not have the kind of population dividend we are going to enjoy till 2050. If we squander the next three decades in constant conflicts with China by keeping the LAC red all the time, we will become aged before becoming rich. While it’s true that we need to counter the actions of the Chinese communist party, it is also true that we don’t slip into the game plan of the West. We do need US’s friendship specially to tame Pakistan and gain an edge to manage China. That should not necessarily translate into becoming an ally. To remind our South block strategists, the word ally in Washington means following the White house diktat with plenty of discipline like London and Canberra does. India’s strategic autonomy is like a Hindu family virtue and as a core principle of our security and foreign policy it cannot be compromised. We need to buy time to reach the economic might where we become the game-planners. Alignment with and access of our armed forces and critical technology to US need to be handled with massive strategic cost-benefit calculations before jumping in blindly.

Tibet issue switched on

Tibet can either be an Indian protectorate, a Chinese vassal state or an autonomous region at the end. The issue of Tibet is in the interest of all 10 nations dependent on water flows from the plateau. A separate consortium of these 10 dependent nations will be very helpful. India needs to manage Uncle Sam as much as Xi Jinping, though the textures and tones of the handling are very different. Beware as the Rank 1 is cheering the possibilities of setting another match between Rank 2, 3 and 4 by switching the Tibet issue on. Asia is the core economic center of the World and the Asian biggies must show some wisdom in behavior matching that status.

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Ankit Shah
Ankit Shah
Indo-Pacific Security & Foreign Policy Observer, Consultant, PhD scholar and Past Academic & Research Associate of IIM Ahmedabad. Follow his twitter handle @ankitatIIMA for China-Pak issues.
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