I have always found it fascinating how utterly impossible it is, and always has been, for the Indian political class to comprehend China’s actions and motives towards us. They almost seem to naively ask, “Why doesn’t China like us?”
We have done “Hindi-Chini, Bhai-Bhai” with them! We signed the Panchsheel agreement with them, and then mildly protested as they broke it and attacked us. We didn’t say anything when they gobbled up Tibet (with whom we had treaty rights as well as responsibilities to defend) and Xinjiang using moronic justifications (India can claim suzerainty over the US using the same logic, as both were ruled by Britain at the same point in time; and frankly even over Xinjiang, as apparently during the Mahabharat, Sahadeva had conquered “Uttara Kuru” (now known East Turkestan / Xinjiang); the race of “Chinas” was mentioned in the Mahabharat, fighting on the side of the Pandavas, and used to pay tribute to the Chakravarti King Yudhishthira; and Kashmiri king Lalitaditya Muktipeeda in 8th century AD had attacked and captured parts of Tibet!).
We laughed off Mao’s ominous statement on Tibet being the palm of a hand and Aksai Chin, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Arunachal being the five fingers into the heart of India! We gifted them the permanent seat on the UNSC which was offered to us, and supported them in the UNGA even after 1962! We didn’t go to Chiang Kai Shek’s aid when he was fighting off Mao, and literally “ditched” him after first having promised him support! We don’t even mention now that China is sitting on Aksai China and the Shaksgam Valley (both part of the undivided state of J&K and legally a part of India – funnily both kept by China to facilitate roads, one to connect Tibet with Xinjiang, and the other as “payment” from Pakistan for building the Korakoram highway!). We are acting blissfully unaware of the flagrant and open encirclement of India being done by China, through its string of pearls strategy, over the last 30 years. We are desperately hiding from the Indian public their active border transgressions, and creeping acquisition of additional land in Ladakh!
And for having done all of this, China still hates us! Wow!
In a nutshell, it hates us because of all the above reasons, and not despite them; but this deserves a slightly deeper appreciation and a more detailed answer!
Napoleon had once said, that the world must let China sleep, for once it wakes up, it will shall shake the world! China apologists view this as a compliment and limit its scope to the economic domain, but I view this as an ominous warning by a great leader with remarkable vision.
The world has not really understood the characteristics of this fast-rising power that keeps on desperately pleading that it will “rise peacefully”, but no one seems to believe them.
The Chinese state has the following attributes:
- Like we in India “tongue-in-cheek” say that Pakistan is an Army that has a country attached (and not the other way round), China is a political party that has a country of its own. The way the world experiences China is the way the Communist Party of China wants it to experience China (please read the story of Village Potemkin in Czarist Russia)! Never before in modern history has such a small cabal of people enjoyed so much power, over such a large area/populace, and not be accountable to anyone for it.
- The PLA is becoming increasingly assertive and now driving foreign policy in China, and hence becoming more and more like Pakistan, and also retain plausible deniability (a best practice they share with Pakistan).
- China is one of the oldest, largest, unitary (Han Chinese), exclusivist cultures in the world, with the possible exception of Japan (though not the largest).
- China has a deeply internalized superiority complex about itself, its culture, intellect, its place in the world (the Middle Kingdom, i.e. centre of the world).
- It has a very very long memory and does not forget slights to its honour (both real and perceived), whether individual or collective (i.e. by a country)
- It has a very deep-seated anger against the western world and Japan, that for the past 250 years, it has been denied its place in history (as the de facto leader of the world) by a combination of factors (be it the forced Opium Wars by Britain, or the brief but violent colonization by Japan).
- Even its “short-term” strategic thinking is probably over a timeframe of 50 years, and therefore thinks and acts consistently, and with a single-minded focus, over very long periods of time (Mao’s “Palm-and-fingers” strategy is just being played out in Nepal and Arunachal Pradesh now)
- China is a “hyper-expansionist” power with an insatiable lust for land, and extremely dismissive about the people that may just happen to be living on that land – example the “breed-them-out” programme in Tibet and Xinjiang.
- China currently only fears US’ military power, which is holding it back from unleashing a campaign of violence against (at the very least) – Taiwan, Vietnam, India, and even some Japanese and Russian interests. It is waiting for the day that it is convinced that it has caught up with the US in terms of military power and/or the US has lost its gumption for a fight (both of which seem to be scheduled to happen sooner rather than later)
- The one-child policy and societal bias in favour of the boy-child has distorted the gender ratio very adversely, with millions of Chinese men unable to find partners. Historically, such ‘testosterone-crazed’ populations have only led their nations towards war and eventual destruction (the Huns and Mongols of the past, and some analysts’ also point to the “need for Jihad” in Pakistan to be caused by this very same reason).
- China’s secretive and relentless drive for building up its military muscle (given that no nation in its right mind would attack China), only raises concerns in neighbours about its intentions, and this can cause the “law of unintended consequences” to go haywire (many expect Japan to soon give up its policy of “defensive restraint” of more than 60 years and go in for major arms upgradation, only due to apprehensions about China’s intentions).
So what does this all mean for India? As mentioned earlier, Indian politicos, even if they grant all of the above, are still unable to understand “Why China doesn’t like us”. So let’s understand what exactly China’s problem with India is.
China’s disgust, disdain, and visceral hatred of India stems from the following causes:
- Although a statement to this effect was made by a Chinese scholar (that “India conquered China many centuries ago without ever having to send a single soldier over the Himalayas”), it is extremely difficult for the proud Chinese to accept that anything about their culture could have come from anywhere else (remember “Middle Kingdom”). The fact that most Chinese martial arts have descended from ancient Indian knowledge (there are pictures of dark-skinned Rishis teaching Chinese pupils in a Shaolin temple, but largely hidden and denied by the Chinese). A lot of “ancient Chinese knowledge” actually came from Indian manuscripts held in Tibet over centuries, or spirited out of India by its inveterate “travellers” (like Hiuen Tsiang and Fa–Hien). Of course, a lot of “modern Chinese knowledge” comes from stolen western knowledge, but that’s another story!
- Even a casual look at the geography of Asia (in the 1950s) would have made it obvious that from a strategic rivalry perspective, only two nations stood out – India and China. For a nation that covets “global dominance”, having a strategic rival in Asia is anathema (please remember the official paper by a Chinese think-tank that China should split asunder India into 20-25 statelets!). The Chinese have very seriously offered to the US that they split their “zones of dominance” over the Pacific at the Hawaiian islands, west of Hawaii for China and east of it for the US, Atlantic for the US, and Indian ocean for China (the other thing that irritates the Chinese no end is that an ocean is named after India, therefore their statement that “the Indian Ocean is not India’s Ocean” – although they see nothing wrong in saying South China Sea is a “core” interest for China, and thereby obviously being “China’s Sea” – they have planted the flag of China on the seabed to make it absolutely clear).
- The India-China hyphenation (Chindia), which China has assiduously worked to jettison for the last 50 years, is becoming popular once again. The reason why they have cultivated Pakistan as a client state to do their bidding, the risk of Pakistani Jihad overflowing into Xinjiang notwithstanding, is only to ensure that the world continue to hyphenate India with Pakistan, and hence not with China. China can’t stand the thought of an India-China hyphenation.
- China only respects might, and hence the respect for the US, grudgingly even Israel, and to some extent Russia. China truly loves “defiant spoilt brats”, and thereby the love for Pakistan, Burma, North Korea, Sudan, and recently even Iran (they do keep some very “august” company). They have studied and understood the Indian obsession with peace, which they see as a weakness, and do not respect anything about India. Hence the utter disdain with which they treat Indian sensitivities (be it stapled visas for Kashmiris or blocking loans for projects in Arunachal). India does not even have the guts to ask China that if they have accepted the McMohan line as border with Burma (Myanmar), then why is the same principle not applicable for India?
- India’s chaotic democracy, despite its obvious shortcomings, is still not preventing our economy from growing fast, and threatening to rival and potentially even overtake the Chinese growth rates (despite their fudged numbers). The world then sees India as a beacon for smaller countries and offering a better developmental template than what China can. The Chinese cringe at this thought (if only they could make India disappear)! The handsome support received by India for the non-permanent membership of the UNSC, and the embarrassingly desperate attempts made by China to block the NSG vote, bear testimony to this (so much for China claiming that it doesn’t care much for India).
- India’s humanistic offer of asylum to the Dalai Lama is seen as a direct affront to China, and they would actually want us to hand over this “splittist” to them so they could torture him in one of their “gulags”, or frankly just bump him off! India has not only provided him a home and kept the Tibetan culture alive, with respect and dignity, but this has also allowed the Dalai Lama to build up his global profile, including getting the Nobel Peace Prize! This does not allow China to pretend that it does not have a “Tibet” problem. They forget, that there is no precedent in history of this kind of benign support given by any nation to its strategic rival, as India has never ever used Tibet to create trouble for China (although that is a weakness in India and not a strength).
- India’s obviously superior entrepreneurial culture, accentuated by the freedom its people enjoy, has allowed for the creation of world-class companies that are respected all over the world. China, in contrast, and although it is able to show much bigger financial muscle, is only able to showcase its “state-funded” and protected public enterprises (SOEs). It notices the welcome say the Tatas get when they takeover a western company (JLR) as compared to the fear and protectionism they meet when Chinese companies try to takeover an entity (e.g. Rio Tinto). They just don’t get it that the world doesn’t trust them with its IP!
- One of the biggest issues the world is facing today, in light of Huntington’s infamous “clash of civilizations” theory, is the ability of different people to live together in peace and harmony. Modern India is one of the largest and most important “social experiments” taking place on the planet today, where such a large and diversified set of people are living together, largely in peace, despite the periodic problems that crop up. Again, China’s inability to integrate the restive populations of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, despite being more than 95% Han Chinese, stands out in absolute contrast (of course what they don’t realize is that “breed-them-out” can never be done peacefully). It can pretend that they can hide the horrific persecution going on, but the world can see and is keeping quiet out of fear! While the world applauds China’s sparkling infrastructure, its abject failure on the social side, is once again an area where India makes China look small, and the Chinese don’t like it!
- It is too much for the Chinese egotistical sensibility to accept that anyone anywhere can do anything better than them. They have historically made some allowances for western powers, essentially because China itself acknowledges that it went through a period of weakness due to these very same western powers, over the past 250 years, and is only now re-emerging from it. The Indian success in the area of software, services and even a few areas of “design-intensive” manufacturing (e.g. automobile components), is not easy for the Chinese to swallow. While they have been very comfortable with the thought of “stealing” intellectual property from the West (which they have turned into an art form), the idea of having to do the same thing from “Indian” companies (IT, Telecom and automobile components) is particularly abhorrent, but is being done nonetheless.
- Lastly, and definitely not the least, the Chinese need a “case study” to demonstrate their power to the world, and what they can do to a country that may hold “illusions” of standing up to China (India doesn’t have any such illusions, but that’s a minor technicality). This is so that no other country should have the guts to stand up against them, in this “Chinese century”, where it plans to be the “sole superpower”. They believe that this time round, the sun will never set on the Chinese empire (sounds familiar?)! There is no better candidate than India, from a perspective of size, potential, and brittleness, for China to demonstrate this power.
Unfortunately for us, we are their neighbours, and China is out to teach us the lesson of a lifetime.
So now let’s take a look at what China has already done, from an India-specific perspective, over the last 60 years. Let’s start with the 1962 war. The Indian public has not been able to figure out why exactly China attacked us in 1962, apparently for a piece of land where not even a “blade of grass grows” (as Nehru had tried to justify our loss).
Some of the reasons why China attacked us in 1962 were as follows:
- Demonstrate to the Soviet Union (which was a regional hegemonic power in those days, and had got India into its orbit of influence) that it can attack India with disdain, and despite them moving their forces to the Chinese border (near Inner Mongolia), give India a bloody nose! It was also a message to the other littoral states of China, that if India can be attacked, despite its size and the protective umbrella of the Soviet Union, they stood no chance against China (a message well received by say Vietnam and South Korea!).
- Grab Aksai Chin, yes, remember for the road project from Xinjiang to Tibet, (and as we all know, roads require land)!
- Test out their battle doctrine of successfully attacking India’s north-east over the Himalayas from the north of Arunachal, and the pincer movement from the south-west (across the territory of Burma – something very few Indians know about), and then tactically withdraw, to take the new knowledge into their “war games” drawing rooms. Their long term aim is to definitively detach India’s north-east, and either incorporate into China, or create independent “statelets” beholden to China (Naga separatists please note). Sorry for not mentioning before and being hugely politically incorrect, in the Chinese scheme of things, any region consisting of people with mongoloid features is fair game, and yes of course has historically always “belonged” to China.
- Get a sense of how India goes to war. Is it able to fight? Is it able to call upon its allies? Is it able to use all its resources? Can China successfully leverage their fifth columnists (the left parties) within India to disrupt and cause confusion (and yes, this was a resounding success).
- The only one fear that the Chinese had was if India used its air force (which was vastly superior in those days) to disrupt the Chinese supply lines, which were dangerously over-stretched and vulnerable, as there were no railway lines to the border (like they are putting in place now). As expected, India in all its wisdom did not use its air force, and what could have been an evenly-matched battle (despite the shortage of arms and ammunition), turned out to be totally one-sided, and a national humiliation (please read the book “Himalayan Blunder” for more).
- The Chinese wanted to know whether India could or would disrupt Chinese fuel-supply lines in the straits of Malacca (which we could have but didn’t), a stratagem we later so brilliantly executed, and blocked Karachi harbour in 1971!
- They wanted to test our leadership, which came out to be truly wanting, and validated the Chinese assumption, that a pacifist India, does not have the guts to defend itself with full vigour, even when attacked (this was proven once again in the Kargil War, the battle plans for which I am sure were whetted in advance by Chinese Generals – Proof: Parvez Musharraf visited China immediately before and again during the Kargil War).
So what else has China been doing since 1962, which has been obvious to everyone but not to India’s ostrich-like and corrupt political leadership? Some of their actions have been as follows:
- They have dramatically upgraded the infrastructure on their side of the Himalayas in the form of rail, road, airstrips, missile silos, etc. Even their recent activities in Gilgit, which although have an economic rational also (access to Gwadar port), have a pure military angle behind it (they are less than 100 kms from Ladakh from there and with good roads; if Pakistan could create such severe problems for us during Kargil just by more accurate shelling of NH1A, wait till you have the Chinese crawling all over Ladakh).
- They have fully effected their “string of pearls” strategy around India, a few pointers being Gwadar, Coco Islands, Hanamkonda, Trincomallee, another port in Burma, Cox’s Bazaar, rail lines to Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma, etc.
- They have reactivated their support to the north-east rebels (evidence is that their leadership is now based more in Burma than Bangladesh).
- The dominance over Pakistan is complete, especially now with the US tiring of its duplicity, the new nuclear reactors (in defiance of NSG), control over Gilgit (where they could have set up missile silos), transfer of missiles and missile technology, directly conducting Pakistan’s nuclear explosions (in response to India’s tests), transfer of latest fighter aircrafts (based on stolen Russian designs anyway), etc.
- The support to the Indian Naxals, through the Nepali Marxists and Communist apologists within India, which can be activated to create chaos during a war situation.
So what are China’s objectives against India now?
- On a maximalist basis, to split India into multiple statelets, so that the potential strategic rival is eliminated permanently.
- Definitely detach India’s entire northeast, by exploiting the Chicken’s neck vulnerability (what a strategic disaster this is, and India has been sleeping on it, rather than trying to set it right; we frankly should not have accepted it all in the first place, by exchanging territory with East Pakistan / Bangladesh, when Jessore and CHT were needlessly handed over to them, for nothing in return).
- Give another “bloody nose” to India as to nip in the bud, the India-China hyphenation that has started happening once again.
- Undo India’s already severely limited hegemony over South Asia also, so that even its neighbours are convinced that India will not come to its aid in times of need, and that they don’t need to bother about its interests, hence keeping India bogged down in the quagmire that South Asia has anyway become.
- Have total dominance over the Indian Ocean, so that China’s energy security is never threatened, and it can in turn threaten India’s energy security. Even an idiot can see that India’s geographic location makes it imperative that it should strategically dominate the Indian Ocean; and if it doesn’t, then the ocean itself can become the most lethal point of attack against India. In any case, India has never cultivated the strategic foresight of say the Cholas and Shivaji, who had realized and exploited the importance of sea power. Its “north India” dominated political culture has always had a “Khyber Pass” mentality, that as in the past, all security threats will only come to the Indo-gangetic plains, and from the north-west (which too we have not been able to protect – for example the loss of the strategic Haji Pir Pass in Kashmir, but that’s another story).
- Capture Tawang, as in the post Dalai Lama battle for controlling the fallout on Tibet, China would want to present the next Dalai Lama as having been born in China (this was the reason to test out the attack on Tawang in 1962). Ideally it would also want to annexe one of the holiest monasteries in Ladakh, and the one in Sikkim. The post Dalai Lama phase of the Tibetan struggle is something that China has been planning for at least 50 years, and mark my words, they will not get it wrong. Unfortunately for them, the Dalai Lama just refuses to die (how inconsiderate of him), and has threatened to live for a hundred years (i.e. another 20 years), but China has legendary patience, and the “breeding-them-out” programme in any case continues in Tibet, uninterrupted.
China also realizes that it probably has only five more years to achieve its objectives against India. India’s rising global stature, its GDP growth rates potentially surpassing that of China, the rise of a new, younger, right-wing and more risk-taking political leadership, its own greying population, the potent convergence of India’s security objectives with countries like Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, etc., will increasingly make it more difficult for them, if delayed beyond 2015.
The gut-feel of many analysts is that 2012 is likely to be a flashpoint year between India and China, for the following reasons:
- Political mess that is likely to emerge in the US, as a tired and weary Barack Obama, who would have “lost” the Af-Pak war by then, may not be put up for re-election by the Democratic Party, and the front-runner from the Conservative Party, as of now, is Sarah Palin, whose foreign policy experience is limited to a good “view” of Russia from across the waters in Alaska!
- Mess that would have been created in Af-Pak with the partial withdrawal of NATO forces (and the psychological victory of Taliban, and yes don’t forget, its patron, Pakistan)
- The steroid-pumped Pakistan (with US arms and aid), crazed by its “victory” over the other superpower (after “defeating” the Soviets), would now hit out at its mortal enemy India, with full force
- Likelihood of a dissillusioned Manmohan Singh stepping down in favour of either Rahul Gandhi, or another “weak” and inexperienced candidate as the PM of India, creating further policy confusion and “learning time”!
These and other such factors will create a veritable cocktail of disaster for India, maximising its vulnerability, and providing a golden opportunity to China for achieving its objectives (please don’t forget that 1962 was executed during the window of opportunity provided by the Bay of Pigs crisis, and the attention of the world was diverted). China, unlike India, doesn’t miss opportunities (a wag of course had once said that India never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity, and it would have even been funny, if it were not a potential life-and-death struggle for India).
To test whether India has been weakened enough or not, and whether it is ripe for a Chinese attack, a “dirty-bomb” could be launched by “non-state” actors from Pakistan, while the “Government of Pakistan” would innocently maintain its infamous “plausible deniability” (which they have also turned into an art-form over 60 years, and now fool even the US). India’s weak-kneed response (as ably demonstrated during the aftermath of the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, and reconfirmed by the Wikileaks expose) could be the final go-ahead for the Chinese plans.
To achieve the above objectives, China’s likely course of action for a short, quick and bloody war, could be as follows:
- The next “war” for the defence of India will be a combined “three-front” war, all activated by China – viz. the Pakistani border, the Chinese border (which itself is huge) and the internal “red corridor” of the Naxals (along with their fifth columnists within India).
- China must have war-gamed enough ways in which to hit India in the vulnerable Chickens neck, and the entire north-east from the north across Tawang, and the south-east from the Burmese border (please read Bharat Verma’s article)
- China has already tested out its anti-sat systems to hit India’s satellites and majorly disrupt its “eyes-and-ears” during the war. These anti-sat systems also double up as anti-missile and anti- aircraft carrier systems, and hence India’s puny missile attack of Agnis / Prithvis and the aging carriers could be easily deactivated.
- Simultaneously, the divisions of “hackers” (nearly 2 million strong), would be activated to hit India’s defence communication and economic nerve-centres (stock markets, media, etc.), to further the chaos in the country.
- The Indian ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal will be crawling with China’s nuke submarines, to launch an obliterating attack, even if one of India’s missile were to get through to mainland China (they don’t care if Tibet is hit), from across the Himalayas (a tough ask in any case).
There are two other very scary plans which China has drawn up for India, both of which have been leaked into the public domain. They are as follows:
- Nuking the Himalayas and creating a 5 km wide flatland in between the mountain ranges, so that the monsoon winds which become bone-dry by the time they cross over to the Gobi Desert, can pass through, and carry rain to these parched lands, which China desperately needs to house its population (water security was the primary reason for capturing Tibet, and not to “free-the-serfs” as has been disingenuously argued).
- Nuking the “big-bend” in the course of the Brahmaputra, a spot in Tibet where the river takes a sharp U-turn and enters India, which can be disguised as an earthquake, and then presented to India as a fait accompli, a changed course of the river, and make it flow into its own parched lands with impunity.
- If these two dangerous plans have somehow come into the public space, one just wonders what other plans this war-hungry and paranoid country has drawn up for India, which have not come out in the open as yet.
- Now, all these plans sound too “fantastic” to be actually implemented by any country, and could be considered alarmist. Anyone who has seen the single-track mind with which China has built the Three Gorges Dam, the rail track to Lhasa, and now the road through Gilgit, needs to think twice, and get really really scared, because if there is one country that can and will execute these plans, with total disdain for world opinion, it is China!
So, even if some parts of the above scenario are remotely likely to be played out, India has a big big problem on its hands! So what should India do about this? Uptil now, except for the baby-steps of activating some minor landing-strips, building some roads, and raising two mountain divisions, we have not done anything much. Apologists will point out that the India of today is not the India of 1962, but we should also be aware that the China of today is definitely not the China of 1962, more rabid and much more confident that it can get away with anything.
So what should India do?
Firstly, India is sleeping and blissfully unaware of the security threats to its existence and its way of life, primarily from two countries (Pakistan and China) that share a visceral hatred for it, and have converging strategic interests, with one becoming a supplicant to the other. India is somehow convinced that pampering them with moralistic talk about peace (Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai and the Wagah candlewalls), and doing more business with them, will ultimately bring about a change in behaviour, and they will also become pacifists like us (modelling themselves on Chishti for one, and Confucious for the other). India doesn’t realize that the actual role models for them are very different, Mahmud Ghazni for one and Sun Tzu for the other! India needs to understand that it has an existential battle on its hands. Indian politicos have never understood geo-politics, or frankly never even understood the need to understand geo-politics. The strategic blunders committed by India over the last 60 years are legion, and do not deserve repetition here, but one must read (“Seven blunders that will haunt India for posterity”) for some understanding of this.
The two major parties of India that are “ostensibly” natural claimants for governance, BJP and the Congress, need to take the lead in understanding this issue, and taking a “nation first” approach to this problem. Instead of insultingly dismissing strategic thinkers as “retired drum-beaters of war”, learn to engage with them and get a better understanding of the strategic issues facing India, and develop a long-term plan (although frankly we do not have much time on hand) to tackle this, so that a change in government does not torpedo the plan.
Secondly, we need to realize that there is a global discomfort with the aggressive rise of China, and its flagrant power-play against most of its neighbours. If India has something to fear, frankly, so do Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Mongolia and the Philippines (for starters). Although they don’t realize it as yet, the US and Russia are equally and deeply threatened (relaxed frogs that will be boiled to death in a Chinese stew). China covets Russia’s far east Siberian territories, under the flawed “justification” of lebensraum (BTW, the people there also have Mongoloid features), but it is also to get access to the waters of the Arctic and threaten Japan from the north. As far as the US is concerned, China knows that it has to dethrone the US to become the unchallenged global superpower, as it is convinced that this is China’s century, in as much as the US knew that it had to dethrone Great Britain.
Coincidentally, all of these countries are democracies, and history has shown that they normally don’t go to war against one another. India needs to build a coalition of these democracies, at the very least to come to each other’s aid, if attacked by China, as many hands are needed to quieten this crazed “bull-in-a-china-shop” (wonder where the expression came from). Japan was a great military power once but the debilitating conditions the US put on them post the second world war, has sapped the fighting energy from it, to almost becoming a hollow-image of its past (the way in which Japan capitulated in the recent stand-off in the South China Sea confirms this). The world needs to awaken that military spirit of Japan (Samurai spirit), so that it can not only defend itself, but also help defend the free world. Given its colonial history over China, do not underestimate either China’s desire to destroy Japan, or the value of Japan in eventually controlling China.
Finally, India needs to prepare for defending itself like never before, as it is not a question of whether but when this would happen. Besides a faster implementation of some of the steps that have already been initiated, other ideas for specific action are as follows:
- Plan and prepare counter-measures for cyber attacks from China that could cripple our command and control systems, and create chaos in general. I don’t think we have even contemplated such attacks, let alone taken effective counter-measures. The help of top Indian IT firms needs to be taken in this, as the government and the armed forces do not have this capability. Test out these measures in a real-life scenario.
- The eastern and western seaboard makes us very vulnerable to attack from a superior force – particularly aircraft carriers (which China is close to acquiring) and nuclear attack submarines (where China has huge superiority). Our “Khyber Pass” mindset does not allow us to exploit our sea boundaries effectively, either for power projection or even defensive strategies (maybe because of the distance from Delhi). We need to fast-track the acquisition of aircraft carriers (at least three) and nuclear submarines (at least eight, or get a Trident from UK). We must understand that with our self-declared no-first use policy (which China doesn’t profess), and proximity to China, from the triad of our nuclear delivery systems, the one most likely to survive an all-out attack from China are the submarines, hence they have immense deterrence value!
- Map out the Burmese border on foot, build our defences (including roads, and fences), build it into our defensive doctrine, as if China attacks the north-east again, this border will definitely be used. Today we are almost sitting ducks on that flank!
- Chickens neck is a known vulnerability, and I am not sure whether we have war-gamed enough on attack possibilities and choking over there – we need to talk to Bangladesh and thru some territory swap agreements, expand that “neck” area. Activate the alternative river-route to the north-east from Burma, as that can be a life-and-death facility, if the Chickens’ neck is lost! Conclude the road transit agreement with Bangladesh at the earliest and build a close strategic relationship with them, firstly so that they don’t go with China (like Burma has) and secondly we will need them very badly in case of war.
- Build full-fledged strike air-bases to hit Chinese supply lines, both in Tibet and Mainland China. Even though the Chinese have got air and naval superiority over us at present, in battle, our real saviours will still be these two arms of the defence forces, much more than the Army.
- Undo the damage done to the defence procurement programme over the past few decades. India can just about win a war against Pakistan with its current readiness, and stands no chance against China.
- Build naval and air defence infrastructure in Lakshwadweep also, as an attacking Chinese Navy will destroy Andamans first. We need a second line of defence and counter-attack for the Navy.
There are obviously many more steps that need to be taken.
I am not a sinophobe (and defintely not a sinophile), but I think that China is a nation that carries very long memories, feels a great sense of insult from the world, feels it deserves to be the leader of the world, and is willing to attack if required (I believe the term they used for the 1962 war was “self-defence proactive attack” – go figure). In their history books, they do not even talk about the 1962 war (calling it a small border skirmish and we still get teary-eyed about “ghayal hua Himalaya”). They are masters of psy-ops, and one way to break our spirit is to try and convince us that we don’t even exist in their strategic calculus, although all evidence points towards them planning for offence.
The stock response that one gets to such articles on China’s intentions is that this is hyperbole and an alarmist over-reaction. Why would China want to endanger its economic growth and standing in the world, by initiating war with any other country. The reason why this doesn’t wash is because a democratic government wants development for the benefit of its people. The “slave-labour” kind of environment in Chinese factories and the lack of focus on building “consumption” (and thereby a peaceful and happier people) makes one wonder as to what the Communist party intends to do in the long-term, once they have grown stronger and richer. The scale, pace and kind of weaponisation in China is not defensive, but clearly offensive (as the hacker army proves). Its democratic governments that hesitate to declare war unnecessarily, as they will be voted out of power. Autocratic governments have no such compunctions.
One also contemptiously hears that despite Indian fears, India is just not “high enough” in the list of priorities for China! The pincer movement being affected by China to encircle India obviously belies that claim. If we were not important enough for China, why were we attacked in 1962! Loudly stating that India is not important enough is itself a classic Sun Tzu tactic, of lulling the enemy before striking – and fortunately for China, it is very easy to lull a pacifist India to sleep! In any case, one doesn’t expect the Chinese to read something like this article and say, wow, this is so true and confirm that they are planning on attacking India! This is more for Indians to read and become more aware, and for Indian politicos to get really alarmed.
The Chinese also know that we have become a nation of genuflectors, and submit dossiers to countries that conduct an act of war against us (26/11). Chinese troop activity in Gilgit is also an act of war against India – but we are quiet about it. We are still ascertaining whether they are actually there, after we learnt of the news from TV channels. We need to be really really scared.
Vajpayee had once said that in this fight we are all alone – and it is true. The Chinese chickens are coming home to roost!
I am only an “arm-chair” strategist, and hence would love to be proven wrong, and really wish that someone who really knows what he is talking about dismisses my comments as alarmist, as then it will actually give me a lot of peace as an Indian citizen. India has too deeply internalized the peaceful concepts of Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, and yes there is a place for this in the world. We have lost sight of the concepts of the Bhagwad Geeta and Chanakya, who talked about waging terrible war for achieving peace. We need a balance between these two concepts, so that the idea of India, which we all so deeply love, does not get lost due to the unfortunate actions of “frankensteinian nations”. I don’t want India to be a nation in the past tense, a “case study” in the footnote of history, as a classic execution of the Sun Tzu war doctrine in the modern age!
Funnily, both these Frankensteins (Pakistan and China) have been created by our “friend” the United States, one created to help defeat the Soviets, and the other to control inflation in the US and provide cheap goods to the American consumer. What a price the world is having to pay for this folly!
I would like to end this essay with a reminder that as per the Mayan calendar, the world will end in 2012! Should the world mentally prepare itself for an Armageddon?
I remain a very concerned and patriotic Indian!