China expects that India in such a weak condition is somewhat less likely to pick up a war to challenge China’s occupation of its land
Nothing happens without a reason. There is a cause for everything that happens. We may not know it, but its there. If we understand why something happened, we could deal with it better.
For several weeks now, China has been sitting in a part of Laddakh, adjacent to Tibet and POK. This time it has come with a lot of resources and preparation to occupy it with force. To deal with this situation, we first need to understand the cause behind the Chinese action. There is one, and if we can find it out, we would be able to deal with it better.
A major opportunity for a win-win situation has been lost in this process, that was possible if China and India had worked together to build a road with India’s consent, and through Indian controlled territory instead of POK
In the last 20 to 30 years, China has struck a major success in its trade with the rest of the world. This trade has been so successful and rewarding to China that it has made China into a major world power second only to the USA and in some respects even ahead of the USA. For example, thanks to this trade, China is the world’s biggest economy in purchasing power parity terms and the USA is only the second, India is the third. China is also the biggest lender to the USA, the biggest supplier of the USA, and holds the biggest part of the US debt. The fact that most of the Chinese ships carrying this trade pass through a narrow part of the Indian ocean through Malacca Strait between India and Malaysia has long been a cause of concern for China.
That is such an important risk factor to its trade that to mitigate it, China has executed the belt and road initiative the core of which is to create an alternative route to the Arabian sea that doesn’t pass through the Malacca Strait. This road comes out of Tibet, and enters the Indian land in POK, and passes through the length of Pakistan (closer to the Western side of Pakistan, away from India), to the Arabian Sea at Gwadar Port in Pakistan. The road is also called CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor).
A major mistake has been made by China in making this road, and it could be that India also had a role to play in the making of that mistake. Whether due to lack of understanding and better relations between China and India, or some other reason, China chose to build the road by offending India, and building it through Indian territory in POK, without India’s consent. A major opportunity for a win-win situation has been lost in this process, that was possible if China and India had worked together to build a road with India’s consent, and through Indian controlled territory instead of POK. More on that later since that could lead to how we deal with this situation.
Having made the mistake of building the alternative route to Malacca Strait for its trade, on Indian land, in an offensive way, China now realizes that both Malacca Strait as well as its alternative are now susceptible to India, and now it has offended India as well. China now needs a way to reduce the risk that the road can potentially face from India. I think this is the reason, that China wants to occupy the Indian land in Laddakh adjacent to Tibet and POK so that it can create a Chinese controlled buffer between Indian influence and the road.
India needs to tell China that it understands, why China is doing it? What it’s doing? India needs to tell China that we don’t want to be a threat to China’s trade.
I think China knew that it wanted to do this for a long time. Now is only an opportune time for doing this since the Indian economy has been on a downhill for a few years and there is lockdown due to COVID-19 which means in the coming years, the economy of India can be expected to be even worse. China expects that India in such a weak condition is somewhat less likely to pick up a war to challenge China’s occupation of its land.
So, what have we said so far? That China is trying to occupy the Indian land in Laddakh adjacent to Tibet and POK, to create a Chinese controlled buffer between India and the CPEC road. That it wanted to do this for a long time and was only waiting for an opportune time which has come now. This is a well thought out strategic move on part of China and not a tactical one. China has come with a lot of resources and preparation to take control of the Indian land and it won’t be easy to pursue them to leave.
There, we have stated the cause of the Chinese move. Now we can think about how to deal with it.
I think that the way to deal with this situation is not merely fighting with China in Laddakh to push them back. The real solution to this issue will need a lot of resources and effort, but it can also be very advantageous for India. It can also solve a lot of other problems in India and also convert China from being an aggressor to a friend. It involves fixing the initial mistake that China made and converting this into a win-win situation. But first of all, India needs to tell China that it understands, why China is doing it? What it’s doing? India needs to tell China that we don’t want to be a threat to China’s trade. Rather we want to be a part of it. But not when China offensively makes the road through Indian land in POK. Can we change this situation?
In fact, the solution comes from Dr. Subramanyam Swamy and he has been stating it quite often. Can India break Pakistan into four pieces and take back POK? This will mean that CPEC coming from Tibet enters not only Indian land but also under Indian control. If that happens, China’s whole attitude towards India may change. Its occupation of land in Laddakh would be of no relevance anymore. On top of that, can India build a shorter and better road from Laddakh to Gujarat’s shore on the Arabian sea and offer that to China as well? Perhaps, India can connect Nepal to that road as well? Can that be a win-win situation for both India and China?
If India picks a war with China, we will miss a lot of opportunities and create problems for ourselves in the future. But India can win a war against Pakistan and create a situation that is beneficial for China as well. This will also solve many other existing problems that India has. So even if there is a war with China, India should defend that but at the same time, its main focus should be on attacking Pakistan and taking back POK and dividing Pakistan into four parts. The alternative is to be in the status quo that will keep deteriorating for us.
India can also inform China clearly that India is ready to work with China and prosper with China, but if China pursues an adversarial approach, then, in the long run, India would have no option but to work with all the countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, and Australia and dominate the South China sea and suffocate the Chinese trade. India doesn’t have to do that. Instead, India can rather facilitate Chinese trade through Malacca Strait by managing it. A much better and win-win situation is India and China being friends and partners on the basis of being neighbours, both being living ancient civilizations that co-existed peacefully for a long time and common interest in trade and development. India can facilitate Chinese trade not only through Malacca Strait but also through CPEC and a new road from Laddakh and Nepal to Gujarat’s Shore. The reward from doing that will keep coming for a long time in many forms and its cost may be less than the war against China.
1. The author’s thinking regarding China has been influenced a great deal by listening to talks by Dr. Subramanian Swamy on the manch of Virat Hindustan Sangam. China is not an enemy. China is a neighbor, an ancient civilization that co-existed with the Hindu civilization without any major conflict (barring recent minor conflicts since the communist rule of China in 1949. So far, and there is a lot of opportunity for a win-win situation between China and India. So far none of that has materialized.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.