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19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was held in Beijing in 2017. First time since Mao Zedong Thought, a new guiding ideology, labeled “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”, was written into the party’s constitution during the session. Beijing has expressed its ambitious plan of action for 2050. China has committed to becoming a developed country by 2049. Through Made in China plan 2025, a ten years plan has been projected to update China’s manufacturing base. It has also committed by become a high-tech country by 2035.
China has been in hurry to achieve this target nearby 2050. In the recent book, “India and Asian Geopolitics: The Past, Present” (2021), Shiv Shankar Menon has answered this new phenomenon. He argued that there is a strategic window between 2020 and 2050 for China. It is because of the aging population of China. The median age of China by 2050 will be 50 years. The median age in India by 2050 will be 37 years. So, it is logical to conclude that older China can’t meet the ambitious dream of China promised in Xi Jinping’s “China Dream”. Thus, China is trying to aggressively meet this target.
The World order is in the state of transition
For the Gulf war 1989, more than 30 countries had contributed their forces under the leadership of the US to punish Iraq’s aggression on Kuwait. A remarkable shift was witnessed that USSR didn’t use veto this move. It indicated that the cold war is over and USSR can’t oppose the US anymore. This phenomenon was celebrated by Francis Fukuyama as a triumph of liberalism and the end of history. On September 9, 2001, Islamic fundamentalists attacked at the signature institution of the liberalism, World Trade Centre (WTO). The US hegemony witnessed the first thrust. This phenomenon was described by Samuel P Huntington as the ‘Clash of civilization.’
The US under the leadership of former President Bush launched an offensive campaign, “War against terrorism” and entered Afghanistan. It has successfully pushed non-state actors in the mountain and caves by 2003. Instead, to going back at equilibrium, the US overconfidently extended its march to Iraq and received the second thrust against its hegemony. This time, the US failed to get the consensus of the world especially Russia, China, and Germany while attacking on Iraq compared to the support it got in the Gulf war just after the cold war.
Global financial crisis 2008 was marked as the third crack in the US hegemony since China openly take the US on its ‘failure’ of the economic policy. China started building parallel institutions like BRICS vis-a-vis IMF, and BRI vis-a-vis the new Marshall plan of China. It held its first BRICS summit in 2009. China’s assertiveness and aggressiveness got new energy when Xi Jinping came to power in 2012. Currently, Scholars like Kishore Mahbubani have been plotting the mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic as the straw that breaks the camelback. Thus, world order is in transition for circulating the elite in global politics.
India’s capability test in Galwan Valley
China has been so hurrying in its ambitious campaign that it has not taken a break during the COVID-19 pandemic when economic activity and the social life of the people were paused. Chinese bullying was witnessed from the South China Sea to the Himalayan region. China being the revisionist power is in hurry to displace the status quo power, the US. China started changing its status quo in Hongkong through new rules. China tried to build a narrative by pushing fighter planes into Taiwan’s airspace through the means of ‘deterrence through denial.’ Chinese aggressiveness in the South China Sea threatens the survival of Philippines fishermen.
Similarly, China marked its aggressive footprints in Galwan region in 2020. The excuse for China was India’s infrastructure developments in the Galwan reasons because India is building new roads and nullahs at the strategic points. But the real intention of China was to test India’s capability to absorb the thrust from China. India of the 21st century is not that India of 1962 whose priority was solely internal developments and lacked the strong military and intelligence power.
India’s military power and foreign policy responded to China effectively. China expected India is at receiving end. China was surprised with India’s preparedness and its successfully capturing strategic height near Pangong lake. India has received strategic benefits from the Galwan standoff. Beijing has been in a state of fear with India’s will and new capabilities.
Why Beijing is in a state of fear?
First, The responses Chinese forces get from the Indian military, establishment, and the people of India have pushed Beijing into a state of trauma. Currently, India has been the biggest challenge before China in toppling the world order and establishing the world of its own ideas, the middle kingdom complex. Second, Ultra-nationalism in India has made the establishment of New Delhi conscious of territorial integrity. India’s masses and the security forces have been realizing new confidence under the new establishment of New Delhi.
Third, India has been deemed as a ‘soft state’ in the eyes of the world which lacks the capability to take a hard decision. But conducting successful surgical strikes by India in Pakistan as well as Myanmar has knocked the world to change its attitude toward India. Amid the Galwan clash, India didn’t take much time in responding to China by changing its FDI policy 2020 which restricted automatic permission to the MNCs of the neighboring country. India has also put additional control on Chinese imports by raising duties on certain commodities.
Fourth, Under the new policy, information about Country of Origin by the sellers has been made mandatory on Government e-Marketplace (GeM) and e-commerce sites to promote Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat. The current establishment of New Delhi has put the design of ‘Akhund Bharat’ before the people of India. It has been energizing people against both Pakistan and China. Home minister, Amit Shah in parliament aggressively put the notion to take back POK and Aksai China. Defense Minister, Rajnath Singh has indicated to change the ‘No first use’ policy of nuclear doctrine in the future.
Fifth, India’s defense capability has also been reaching new heights. Post-1962, India learned a lesson and increased defense capabilities. India got an intelligence agency, R&AW in 1968. Successful victory of India in the 1965 war, 1971 war, and the Kargil war 1999 has motivated India to take a hand in hand on the battlefield. India has been speeding its infrastructure developments in strategic points. According to economic time, India’s infrastructure near the china border has been completed by 75%.
Sixth, Strategically, India has also been preparing for mountain warfare in Arunachal Pradesh under operation ‘Him Vijay’. India has failed China in its grand plan to dump its goods through back door by using the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) group. India didn’t join RCEP. India also opposed China’s signature initiative, BRI. Seventh, Apart from internal balancing, India has been focusing on external balancing as well where India has actively been engaging with the Quad members and conducting naval exercises. These new shifts have definitely been haunting China.
Policy options before New Delhi
There are many policy options before New Delhi with respect to China. First, India can adopt the policy of deterrence. Through ‘deterrence of denial’, India can keep this narrative intact in the heart and minds of Beijing. For this India can keep its head high against the hollow narrative of China. Second, India should not go quickly near to the US. India should wait more so that the US could come before India with high qualities of supplies like promising a permanent seat at UNSC openly.
Third, India should give a clear message to the narrative of India-China power asymmetry to Beijing that China is also not free from vulnerability. India could also think to change the ‘One Chine policy’ in the coming future. China is also suffering from ‘pressure cooker syndrome’ which is very vulnerable for China. Fourth, India can revive the Dalai Lama card to counter China. In fact, PM Modi talked and wished to Dalai Lama on his birthday in China. It shows that India has revived its traditional policy by leaving the policy of appeasement where India became passive toward the Dalai Lama in the last decade.
Fifth, India has the potential to build discourse against the rise of China. The world is tilting toward India because the world has been convinced that the design of China is not peaceful at all. Bandwagoning is not the choice of the time. Thus, India should seek for new equilibrium which is free from pseudo-elements. Sixth, India can also continue the policy of internal and external balancing. Strategic autonomy and multiple alignments could be the evergreen mean for balancing and containing China.
S Jaishankar in an interview with Rahul Kanwal at India Today Conclave 2021 said, “If you extend your hand, I will extend mine had too. If you point your gun at me, I will point my gun at you.” It is true that there is a power asymmetricity between India and China. But the real power and preparedness are tested in the battleground. Even if New Delhi doesn’t go to war, New Delhi should prepare for war with Beijing and keep ourselves on standby mode.
- Penguin Allen Lane | India and Asian Geopolitics: The Past, Present by Shivshankar Menon
- Decoding World Affairs | 100 years of CPC: Why aggressiveness of China at is all-time high?
- Financial Express | Importing these items from China may get difficult
- The Economic Times | PoK, Aksai Chin part of Jammu and Kashmir, will sacrifice our lives for it, says Home Minister, Amit Shah
- India Today | No first use nuclear policy may change in future, says Rajnath Singh
- Decoding World Affairs | Changing world order and the rise of China
- The Economic Times | In ramp-up, 75% of roads on China border ready
- The Hindu | Army’s mountain strike Corps to conduct the exercise in Arunachal