Standoffs between India and China are normally compared to standoffs between elephant and dragon by all
The recent escalation of tensions between India and China along the length of Line of Actual Control (LAC) has left all diplomatic experts high and dry while searching the motive. Not that they don’t know, but according to the established norms people are wary of commenting on India-China standoffs. Everyone knew of the limitations India has and the immediate necessity for China to transform the stalemate into some sort of tool that can provide leverage against India.
Standoffs between India and China are normally compared to standoffs between elephant and dragon by all – ignoring both the Tiger and Panda, which are national animals of both nations. This is true because the national psyche of India and China are normally comparable to the temper and moods of elephant and dragon, at least for the last seven or eight decades. Often analysts tend to take an elephant to be lethargic and the dragon to spitfire. This is where they are normally wrong.
Maybe in a few more years, India may be able to match China in these aspects. That is one reason for China to engage with India – to keep the memory of conflict afresh in the memory.
The elephant that normally minds its own business and is merry in its habitat is highly dangerous when it really gets angry. On the other hand, a dragon, to start with is highly mythical, unlike the elephant that is very much real. In fact, the ruthlessness that is associated with communist regimes was the true reason for depicting China with a dragon. Gone are the days of Buddhist monks who sought the path of Nirvana. The short but severe Japanese rule had marred the average Chinese psyche, while India became numb due to the long occupation where the invaders have become part of the indigenous population. While the rulers of China were happy at being compared to the dragon, they forgot the reason why the dragon spits fire. Normally all creatures generate methane in small quantities and emit it from the back. Dragon not only generates methane in large quantities but also emits it from the mouth. Even if it grinds its teeth, the methane exhaust would become a fire. One can thus conclude that dragon is suffering from heavy indigestion and has a manufacturing defect of having to burp instead of fart.
But, Communist China is just like the dragon. First, China doesn’t know the difference between gaining respect and being feared. Being the most populous nation on the earth (India being second ironically) it had to hide its failures behind its own draconian wall. Though large volumes were written on how the inheritors of once great civilization live in fear, the silence by the Chinese administration on their own dead befits only to its iron fist. On the other hand, India went public on its causalities. In various Indian towns and villages, people mourned for their soldiers who died for the nation. Losing a life, for any cause is simply reproachable. Still, the martyred Indian soldiers got acknowledged – unlike their counterparts from China.
People often wonder how India would fight China, if and when it comes to war? This question is raised – and dismissed in many discussions, considering the past history when India lost the war against China. Yes, India has come a long way since then. Still, India lags behind in the infrastructure of both armament and connectivity when compared to China. Maybe in a few more years, India may be able to match China in these aspects. That is one reason for China to engage with India – to keep the memory of conflict afresh in the memory.
China has a number of reasons to go to war with India. To start with its economy is shrinking albeit slowly, even before they globalized Coronavirus. And this globalization only increased the rate of shrinking of its economy. The economy of the west, whose markets China dominates, has abruptly collapsed bringing down the demand for Chinese produce. Except for Africa and the Middle East including Pakistan, at present, the biggest market available for China is only India. However, when the west considered pulling its factories out of China, it was India that has appeared as an alternative, how bleak the real prospects may be.
Rahul Gandhi may question the government and criticize Modi on Twitter and in his talks with some economists or musicians that only exhibits the strengths of Indian democracy – because even Rahul Gandhi knows he can’t question the government if he is in China.
The shrinking economy causes disturbances. Yes, even in India, the economy got shrunk causing millions of job losses. But, as one Chinese professor himself remarked on how psychologically Indians are immune to any virus, Indians are also immune to all sorts of problems. Attribute it to the Karmic philosophy that is sublime in our thoughts or to the inertia induced into our DNA by thousand years of foreign rule, we Indians like to take things in stride and try to solve them. Narendra Modi might be talking about being self-reliant nowadays, but Indians largely are self-reliant. In fact, those sections who really need the government to support them never had the government really supporting them. Unlike in China, the economic development of India is not with the support of the government, but despite the government. Maybe Modi might have felt he provided some gas connections and so people rely on him, but the day the cylinder is empty, back are sticks and coal to make rotis or rice.
For China, to cover its failure in sustaining the economy, preventing the spread of viruses in Wuhan and elsewhere, failing to contain its actions in HongKong and Taiwan, the nationalistic sentiment of using the army against any other nation, in this case, India may be of help. But, for Indians, the government is there normally to serve the purpose of politicians. The only part Indians are concerned with the government is in maintaining territorial integrity, which is primarily the responsibility of the Army, Navy, and Airforce. Here, Indians want the government to support the forces through proper decisions. Unlike many who feel it is only BJP and its supporters are nationalistic, barring Communists and few people born with manufacturing defects in their upper portion, everyone is nationalistic. They don’t need a foreign army to cross borders to prime their nationalism. Even a cricket match would bring that out.
Rahul Gandhi may question the government and criticize Modi on Twitter and in his talks with some economists or musicians that only exhibits the strengths of Indian democracy – because even Rahul Gandhi knows he can’t question the government if he is in China. And, during the all-party meets, the Congress delegation is expected to support the government as they have much to answer about how much land is occupied by China and since when.
While the dragon can really spitfire or only vents gas is still unclear, it is a proven fact that a mad elephant is really a rogue one. So, while India is expected to react by not supporting Chinese firms doing business in India, it can also consider countering in both United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and World Health Organization (WHO). In fact, India’s taking over of WHO during the epidemic is clearly against the interests of China, which has a lot to answer to the international community, its elevation to UNSC with a chance of becoming a permanent member is one reason why China was exhibiting what it can do if India doesn’t support it in international forums. Normally, any other nation would have cemented friendship and ties with a foreign country that is acquiring some international influence so their nation can benefit from good relations. But, China responded in an entirely different manner for two reasons:
- First, it is the character of a Communist regime to use force instead of the tongue.
- Second, rather than benefit from India’s support, China worries more about what India can unearth on the virus front.
So, by this time, the Chinese administration might have realized that like all communist regimes, they took the wrong decision in making the subtle elephant rogue. But, if the Chinese administration retains the idiocy of Communism and Maoism, they might not have realized their misadventures. In all probability, they feel they have won a battle in punishing India for being friendly with the west. Many diplomats agree that Modi knows best when it comes to China. But, they also know Modi is highly vindictive.
Contrary to what those advisors told to Xi Jinping, all it takes is one more national speech by Modi urging to boycott Chinese. The impact of losses due to Chinese firms going back may be considerable, but does the elephant cares about few thorns shredding its skin while it is charging at the dragon? And, it is not in the interest of China to continue with the escalation, for they are achieving exactly what they don’t want to happen. China is in fact accelerating the QUAD formation by bringing India, US, Japan, and Australia. China may think the support of Islamic kingdoms is handy against Europe when it is accused of violating human rights. But when it comes to India, except Pakistan, no Islamic country may support China, for they do more business with India. India is not only one of their prime market for oil, but supplier for food products also – which China is essentially not. Every country is not Nepal to woo so easily by making some intangible promises.
Meanwhile, the ordinary Chinese may be asking their government on the number of Chinese soldiers martyred at LAC. Don’t they deserve the dignity Indian soldiers received from their government, people, and society? What sort of nation will China be if they don’t acknowledge martyrdom of their own soldiers? Something similar to Pakistan? Maybe it is time for Xi Jinping to reflect on how he wanted to be remembered by the future. Only if he realizes the dragon only vents gas and can’t spitfire. Taiwan has seen the writing on the wall and described it as Lord Rama shooting an arrow at the dragon. For how long, the mainland can remain to be blind to the truth?
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.