By: Dr Ameya Tripathi, Bureau Chief-ICN U.P.
From right after 1949, China has been working on a strategy for many decades now, and is constantly improving on that. And we should fear that consistency itself but nothing else. Right after establishing itself as a communist nation Chinese government started working on its weaknesses in a surgical manner. Identifying and improving on the weaknesses and bolstering the strengths.Gradually and consistently China became the factory of the whole world. Providing SEZ corridors, cheap labour, electricity, infrastructure and other facilities for industries to be set and flourish. This was bound to help their economy and foreign reserves especially when the dollar or pound is converted into yuan. Soon China was sitting on huge stockpiles of cash and loads of money in the form of shares, debentures and other forms of capital.
Chinese started strategically investing this into companies and start-ups and became involved in every money making opportunity. With time the rich became mighty rich. It’s no secret that the majority of investors and angel broker firms in China are directly or indirectly controlled by the PLA or Chinese government, data from the world over is always exposed to Chinese cyber cells (China has the world’s largest hacker base, and cyber war is always on their game agenda).
Sitting on such huge cash piles, the next obvious step for China was to strengthen its Army, Air force, Navy and other tactical resources of war. Spying and reverse engineering major innovations around the world is also one of their tactics. Their next motive was to expand their country boundaries. China started disputes with all its weak neighbours claiming their land as its own. Deploying its army and then expanding its boundaries by force. It should be noted here that China has disputes with almost all of its neighbouring countries (seventeen in number!). While doing so China always had a fear of retaliation from neighbouring countries on its weaknesses, one of which is the “Strait of Malacca” from where 80 percent of its oil imports for energy requirement happens and Indian navy has this strait covered via its naval bases. To secure this front, China built a “strings of pearls around India” where it acquired ports by first facilitating in building them by giving huge debts to countries, and then in the pretext of recovering this debt it used these ports for its own naval use. Hambantota and Gwadar ports of Srilanka and Pakistan are examples of this Chinese strategy. China has used its strong economy as its greatest weapon to win over countries, economies and forcing other big superpowers to ignore its misadventures. As the saying goes “don’t let wicked fox enter into your chicken house because it’s bound to go hungry someday”. China crippled the economy of many smaller nations like Maldives, Srilanka, Pakistan etc. behind the pretext of developing infrastructure thereby laying huge debts on them, in return it acquired their lands, ports, etc. Aksachin given to China from Pakistan occupied Kashmir as a debt bargain and Hambantota port from Srilanka are just a few examples.
The PLA’s movement in Ladakh is not a momentary retaliation of Chinese army but this was planned decades ago. When India was at war with Pakistan, China sensed an opportunity and slowly progressed in making infrastructure for its army in that region. Do you think Nepal making claims on Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiadora regions, or Pakistan escalating its ceasefire violations and terror activities at this crucial time of corona are mere coincidences? So, the big question is “should we be scared of the Chinese army and its might?”. I was reading an article in the newspaper today where the author warned PM Modi not to repeat the mistakes of Late PM Nehru by challenging the mighty PLA army or by boycotting Chinese trade. So should we cow down and rely on diplomatic talks only as suggested by the author? Diplomacy without teeth has no value. As a famous Indian poet shri Ramdhari Singh Dinkar wrote “chhama shobhti us bhujang ko jiske paas garal ho,usko kya jo dant-heen, vish-heen, vineet saral ho”
War is not always won by numbers alone. Consider the war between Israel vs 17 countries or the battle of Saragarhi. Battles are not won by advanced equipment or weapons or naval might (America vs Vietnam). Wars are not won by sheer numbers, tanks armours or alliances as we witnessed in world war II. War is won by hearts and souls of soldiers battling on the field where an aging MIG 21 can run down F16s, where even from the foot of mountains soldiers brave and conquer most difficult post of the world (kargil), where army marches to the heart of LTTE in Jaffna. Now let us analyse the Ladakh situation.
Everybody has started comparing our army number vs theirs. Their total number of tanks vs ours. We are not talking about an open battle of Kuruskshetra where millions of army men from both sides accumulate with full strength and then fight. We are talking about mountain terrain where when even 500 soldiers assemble it seems crowded. China cannot deploy its 2.1 million army wholly on Indian LAC leaving its other sides unattended. It shares boundaries with 14 countries and has disputes with all of them. At the most it can deploy its northern commands of 5 lakh soldiers and add another 5 to 7 lakh reinforcements at the time of extreme crisis. That too all along 3800 km LAC and not on a single point. It doesn’t have many air bases in that region, majority are makeshift bases and if war happens there are many strategic points from where very small Indian forces can block their movement for months. Just think how in the movie 300 they stopped the mighty army of Darius by strategically blocking a passage in the mountain terrain. Now the real fight will happen on the strait of Malacca from where we have an opportunity to virtually block all the trade of China. Presence of three American aircraft carriers and assurances from Australia will only boost the complete blockage. This China also knows and it cannot afford that. Because if this conflict prolongs for more than 15 days its economy will crumble as billions of dollars of trade movement happens from that path.
Now if Chinese army is so mighty why their official channel keeps posting videos and messages of their might, why they never report any casualties, why they never report any losses. This is also part of their strategy to boost confidence in their citizens by scaring the opponent and mentally defeating them. This is a part of their psychological warfare.
War is never a solution. We know it and even Chinese know it. But we have to be ready on every aspect and retaliate when required. All the other tactics of war other than violence should be deployed. This includes boycotting of Chinese goods. Now we should talk business. This all has been a result of money. Chinese gained money and all of their power comes from money. Hit at the base of their power and we will win. 60 to 70 percent of import from China to India is of non-essential items which can be substituted from other countries. For e.g. toys, Diwali lightings, furniture, plastic brushes, etc. worth billions are imported from China every year. These items are produced at similar rates in Taiwan, Vietnam and other countries. So, if we start boycotting these Chinese made things, importers will have to source these items from other countries.
India as a member of WTO cannot officially impose a ban on imports as it will hurt the free trade routes from other channels but we as Indian citizens can stop buying Chinese products. Chinese apps like tik tok and helo are non-essential apps which can be deleted instantly and substituted by other similar apps. When we start boycotting these Chinese brands, a strong message goes to China. And this coupled with a firm army ground hold at the border will pressurize China to make development through bilateral talks. Then the diplomatic channels will work as intended, else slowly and steadily Dragon will creep in and go on eating our land. Now the lion has to react smartly.