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China’s policy dilemma

Why in news?

Military stand-off at the LAC has triggered multi-dimensional fight between India and China. Post de-escalation there are various theories in China over the future of China’s policy towards India.

The vision of Assertive China

  • Various factions in China believe that, present conflict is not an “accident” but an “inevitable result” of “India’s longstanding strategy and development on China­ India border
  • From Doklam to Kashmir India is following unending infrastructure arms race at the LAC, and Beijing was fed up and had to teach India a lesson
  • There is no possibility of a negotiated settlement ofthe border dispute any time soon.
  • India is already a “quasi ­ally” of the U.S. with no scope for reversal
  • Only by daring to fight, by showing strong determination, the will and

the ability on the western frontier can China effectively deter Chinese adversaries on the eastern coast.

3 no’s to deal with India

  • Chinese Think tanks propose 3 No’s to deal with India in future.  “No weakness, No concession and No defensive defence”.
  • In other words, China should take all opportunities to crack down on India, take the initiative to hit it hard whenever possible
  • This will not damage China ­India relations but, it will make it more stable.
  • 1962 China­ India war helped China to maintain peace and stability on the western front for a long time and directly eliminate American and Soviet ambitions to use India to contain China
  • India should be kept under control by destabilising the entire border region, creating tension across the board, from the McMahon Line in the east to the Aksai Chin area in the west
  • China should take the initiative to attack and seize territories under India’s control from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh,
  • weaken India internally, by supporting the cause of Maoists, Naga separatists and Kashmiris.

Other debate

  • Various other think tank’s believe that, 3 No’s would stoke extreme nationalism in India and unite the otherwise divided nation against China, which not only harms China’s interests but might eventually draw China into an untimely military conflict.
  • Attempt to “teach India a lesson” is  short sighted and China is  not psychologically prepared for the rise of India.
  • China, they argue, lacks understanding of the fact that India, as a rising power, is very important to China and will be increasingly crucial in the future, with China ­India relations evolving as the most important pair of
  • relations after China ­U.S. links.
  • If China­ India ties are damaged beyond repair, they warn, India alone or in association with other countries will cause “endless trouble for China”.
  • For example, an openly hostile India will use every possible means to prevent China from reaching the Indian Ocean.
  • On the other hand, the decoupling  of China ­India relations will further strengthen the “anti­ China alliance” between the U.S., Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia.
  • These countries, will actively take the initiative to reshape global industrial chains, use the Indo Pacific Strategy to check and balance China’s military and economic power
  • They can also try to expand international organisations such as the G­7 to weaken China’s influence in international affairs.

Military challenge

  • The general view among these military analysts in China is that if China has an advantage in terms of psychology, equipment, and logistics  mobilisation, India too has advantage on various fronts such as deployment, supply line, practical war experience, topography, and climate among others.
  • India’s disadvantage remains in the fact that its capital lies well within the bombing range of China, China’s key disadvantage is its particularly long supply lines.
  • Hence, if the conflict ends in a short period of time, it will benefit China.  But if it is prolonged, China will be disadvantaged.
  • If a war starts, they argue, India will make all efforts to prolong it as long as possible, and the U.S. is likely to help India to attain this objective.
  • Even if the two sides end in a tie, in India it will be counted a victory and the national  morale will rise sharply
  • on the contrary, in China, the morale will decline if it cannot beat India decisively.

What is the conclusion now?

  • China, for now, should strive to make India retreat without a military conflict, maintain basic peace and stability at the borders, and, at the minimum, not deliberately push it towards the U.S
  • China simultaneously will carry out its strategy of weakening India internally by leveraging its social and political differences, completing its strategic encirclement, improving troop deployment in the Tibet region to secure the China ­Pakistan Economic Corridor, and stationing Chinese troops in the Gwadar Port
  • Rather than winning a war, China should aim at attaining a comprehensive and overwhelming advantage in geopolitics vis-à- vis India
  • Despite all the jingoism and rhetoric propagated through its official media, China is actually in a serious dilemma over its India policy
December 2023