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  Opinion   Columnists  14 Sep 2022  Abhijit Bhattacharyya | Tackling Chinese duplicity: Challenge for India, West

Abhijit Bhattacharyya | Tackling Chinese duplicity: Challenge for India, West

The writer is an alumnus of the National Defence College, and the author of China in India.
Published : Sep 15, 2022, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Sep 15, 2022, 12:00 am IST

This week’s so-called “disengagement” looks like a ploy to trap India into a point of no return; crafted by dragon dictator Xi Jinping

The moot point today isn’t just the visibly voluntary “mutual withdrawal” by Indian and Chinese troops from Ladakh. (Representational Image)
 The moot point today isn’t just the visibly voluntary “mutual withdrawal” by Indian and Chinese troops from Ladakh. (Representational Image)

On the same day that 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II died after a 70-year reign as Britain’s monarch, September 8, came the news that Indian and Chinese troops “have begun to disengage from Gogra and Hot Springs”, one of the remaining “friction points” in eastern Ladakh, to make things “conducive to peace and tranquillity in the border areas”. These continue to fester and have turned, in 70 years, into an irreversible yellow cancer.

The Queen died after eventful reign. The India-China border standoff has an inglorious past and it still continues owing to treacherous and unending games played by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and its military wing, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). This week’s so-called “disengagement” looks like just another ploy to trap India into a point of no return; carefully crafted by dragon dictator Xi Jinping. India must not forget the recurring thunder of the CPC-PLA overlord that “China will never give an inch of land”. And there’s no one to challenge the dictator’s diktat. How many times has India even tried to respond to counter the CPC’s aggression word for word? Or even reiterate the obvious — that the unilateralism of Beijing can never be compatible with bilateralism?

The high-decibel India-China “mutual withdrawal” in eastern Ladakh appears mysterious — perhaps hurriedly stage-managed for summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand. It’s an unalloyed diplomatic deception by the dragon to lure New Delhi into a “handshake” mode, and not publicly ignore the overlord of the Middle Kingdom at the two-day meet, where Russia’s Vladimir Putin, traditional supplier of arms to both New Delhi and dragon, and present challenger to the mighty West, will also be on the stage.

The moot point today isn’t just the visibly voluntary “mutual withdrawal” by Indian and Chinese troops from Ladakh. The issue goes far beyond Ladakh. It’s the changed attitude of the West, which has now decided to confront and curb Chinese threats to Western interests. This explains the urgency to expose and counter the Hans’ congenital lies, deceit, theft and espionage, not to mention land grabs, from Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh to the Sea of Japan; the Taiwan Straits and beyond to Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans, where island after island and ports of geo-strategic importance are being “conquered” with consummate ease by the deft use of financial clout and not military means or machine-guns.

Therefore, the “mutually agreed withdrawal of troops” by India and China must be seen in a broader, global perspective. The “withdrawal” in Ladakh is a minor tactical move which will be projected by the CPC as an act of magnanimity. If the Chinese really had a change of heart, why couldn’t this “act of magnanimity” not been done two years ago, soon after the Chinese intrusion into India’s Galwan Valley? Why, in fact, should the Chinese have treacherously transgressed there at all? So now, the dragon’s drama shows it is addressing New Delhi’s seven-decade-old concern on the eve of Central Asian meet, which has anyway lost most of its relevance in a transforming world. The Ladakh “withdrawal” is clearly an optical illusion for the East as a real challenge to the CPC’s Emperor Xi grows in the West. The West hardened its stance out of compulsion; to take on the Moscow-Beijing alliance. Both Nato and the European Union feel that while gas, oil and grain dependence on Moscow did them in, the mega-commerce, trade, tech and investment dependence on the CPC too will decimate their economies.

Thus, who would have visualised the German government reviewing a raft of measures to curb Chinese businesses and put restrictive conditions for both German and Chinese investment in each other’s country? Berlin is determined to show Beijing its will to “fight for principles of fairness” despite the mammoth $245 billion bilateral trade, which fuelled the rapid growth of Europe’s largest export-driven economy. Before leaving office in 2021, Chancellor Angela Merkel regretted she may have been naive in some areas of cooperation with China. The present Green Party federal minister is clearer on China: “We cannot afford to behave, following business first, without taking into account long-term risks and dependencies”. Yet, like Wall Street capitalists, German companies are “concerned” about a tougher China policy: “We can’t isolate China. That would be naive”.

While the Russia-Ukraine conflict rages in Eastern Europe, and the West consistently accuses Moscow of alleged war crimes, a sizeable number of Westerners hold the opposite view: that Russia is a “lesser threat” than China. This despite Russians being brazen over achieving their political objectives. Moscow’s military method is openly lethal; but the CPC-PLA is a dormant volcano: constantly swerving; a strategy of deception and duplicity, camouflaging actions and objectives by playing the game of patience. The Chinese prefer to avoid firing at the West: they circumvent an open fight with a united enemy which looks strong and mighty.

The biggest challenge by China, however, is to the US tech industry that is depleted owing to Washington’s miscalculated greed and cupidity.

Fifty years ago, at the height of the Cold War, Nixon-Kissinger duo thought that Mao could provide a money-making market; with a vast, unexploited consumer base of lucrative returns and venue for captive capitalist investments.

The American calculations, however, went haywire as Washington today “bars advanced tech firms building China factories for 10 years”. Also, President Joe Biden introduced law committing $280 billion to high-tech manufacturing and scientific research, fearing a loss of tech edge to China. Richard Nixon must be turning in his grave seeing the US-made semiconductor share (used in keys, cars, cell-phones) in global markets falling from 40 per cent in 1990 to 10 per cent in 2021. The Pentagon stopped its latest fifth-generation F-35 fighter delivery after it found some sub-standard engine parts were “Made in China”.

All good things come to an end! The west discovered that its potential irrelevance owes to the all-embracing Chinese espionage in every nook and corner. Both the British and American agencies say that Chinese espionage resorts to a “whole of society approach”. A 2017 intelligence law mandatorily requires “all organisations and citizens to support, assist and cooperate with national intelligence efforts”, thereby implying that every Chinese (or even Chinese-origin person) in foreign territories may be a spy for the CPC-PLA. It’s now up to reader to decide how India should tackle the hostile Hans — from the Himalayas to the hinterland — and how safe are our citizens in their own homes before the poker-faced, unintelligible Chinese across India, who masquerade as tourists, teachers, technicians, traders, investors and diplomats.

Tags: gogra, hot springs, ladakh, communist party of china