China wants war with India, make no mistake

New Delhi must prepare. It cannot afford to be complacent.

 |  5-minute read |   16-08-2017
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As the Doklam standoff drags on, China continues its sabre rattling against India. It has threatened to teach a bigger lesson to India than it did in 1962 when it carried out a surprise trans-Himalayan invasion just when the world faced the spectre of a nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban missile crisis between the United States and the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Today, China’s warmongering against India is occurring at a time when another missile crisis is haunting international security — North Korea’s threat to target America’s Gaum island territory with ballistic missiles

Crisis

But while China was not involved in the Cuban missile crisis, it is central today to the US strategy against North Korea. A US-North Korea military conflict could easily draw in China, which has vowed to support the hermit kingdom in the event of an American preemptive strike.

Consequently, Beijing confronts the possibility of war on two separate fronts — the Korean Peninsula and the Himalayas. This could be one reason why China thus far has not acted on its unremitting threats since June 26 to teach India a lesson.

India, however, cannot afford to be complacent. Just because Chinese President Xi Jinping’s regime has not attacked India thus far does not mean that it won’t act even if it finds circumstances propitious for action.

New Delhi cannot overlook the fact that China has been systematically mobilising domestic and international support for a possible war with India, which it has painted as the aggressor while claiming to be the aggrieved party.

For example, after weeks of shrill war rhetoric, China released a 15-page position paper on August 2 that accused India of “invading Chinese territory”.

It came a day after President Xi, in a speech marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, vowed not to permit the loss of “any piece” of Chinese land “at any time or in any form”.

The position paper released by the external affairs ministry obfuscated key facts, including China’s attempt to alter the status quo by intruding into disputed territory, as it has successfully done in the South China Sea without incurring any costs.

The paper essentially was a compilation of what China had previously released through a series of official statements since the standoff began.

The only new elements were two claims — that India had pulled out most troops from Doklam (an assertion that proved to be false), and that it had notified India in advance of its road-building plan. But if India is an outside party with no role in Doklam, as the paper claimed, why was it pre-notified?

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Accords

Tellingly, China has remained mum on its violation of bilateral accords cited by Bhutan (1988, 1998) and India (2012). It, however, has repeatedly but selectively cited an 1890 colonial-era agreement of dubious relevance to the Doklam dispute.

Bhutan was not a party to the 1890 accord, which, in any case, identifies the watershed principle for defining the boundary. The highest ridge line separating river flows runs through Batang-la, not Mount Gipmochi, making Doklam part of Bhutan.

The standoff has highlighted China’s three-warfare doctrine — waging media, legal and psychological warfares to “win without fighting”, in Sun Tzu style, and, in case it failed, to prepare the ground for military operations.

A fusillade of fresh warnings to India to back down or face dire consequences has been delivered just this month by the Chinese defence and foreign ministries, the People’s Daily, the People’s Liberation Army Daily, the Xinhua news agency, and other state mouthpieces.

Actually, China’s unceasing war rhetoric against India has paralleled US President Donald Trump’s apocalyptic threats against North Korea. But even as China’s harsh words and warmongering against India persist, Xi, paradoxically, has sought to present himself as the voice of reason by calling for US restraint on North Korea.

The American press has published Xi’s call for dialogue and negotiations to find a diplomatic solution to the North Korea issue without citing his opposition to similarly settle the Doklam issue with India.

Even as Xi urged the US to stop hurling threats at North Korea, Beijing has been busy hurling almost daily threats at India.

Strategy

The Doklam crisis shows India has yet to develop a countervailing strategy to China’s three-warfare doctrine, aimed at achieving goals through non-kinetic weaponry.

China’s bullet-less “three warfares” against India since June 26 mock Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia in early June that — despite the boundary dispute — “not a single bullet has been fired.”

In fact, China, without firing a shot, has been chipping away at Indian and Bhutanese lands for years. India must be vigilant that China’s bullet-less aggression can rapidly turn into a full-fledged, 1962-style invasion.

Deception, tactical surprise, shrewd timing and blitzkrieg (lightning war) have been common elements in China’s use of military force since 1950 in order to stun the enemy and achieve quick results.

India must be ever ready to battle the enemy with its full strength, ingenuity and ability, and inflict serious reverses on the invading forces.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

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Writer

Brahma Chellaney Brahma Chellaney @chellaney

The writer is strategic thinker, author, commentator.

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