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5th October – Strategic response to China

Strategic steps for India – Chanakya vs Sun Tzu

Close to five months of Sino-Indian border standoff, hand-to-hand combat, and death of a few dozen soldiers in the Galwan Valley clash has led to many reactions from the intellectuals and ordinary citizens of both the countries. There are innumerable theories on plausible causes for China’s attempt to change the status quo on Sino-Indian line of actual control, especially in the Ladakh sector.

Causes of conflict –

After brainstorming of several geo-politicians, defence-experts, ambassadors & analysts, the cause(s) for China having undertaken this adventure of doubtful strategic advantage analytically can be classified into five categories – 

  1. Tactical
  • The Chinese leadership, its strategists & policy-makers are clever and far-sighted. Any contrary assumption should be made at one’s own peril. Therefore, all attempts to ascribe their moves to some kind of folly have to be discounted.
  • It is also very important to chaff off causes from effects. China creates causes but effects are not under anyone’s control. This is apparent from China getting a bloody nose in Galwan valley on the night of 15th June 2020.
  1. Strategic
  • Another equally important detail, which should not escape attention is that single point agendas are undertaken out of personal animosities whereas nations (like China) undertake high-risk ventures only if such ventures may result in multi-faceted, multi-pronged and sometimes counter-intuitive but beneficial anticipated effects for the impacting party (China) so that it gains more than the victim (India) actually loses.
  • It takes an immensely clever opponent to outflank an aggressive party (in this case China) because a good strategist would have gamed (according to the logic of Game Theory) everything innumerably and this is Beijing’s advantage vis-a-vis India. It means that any possible reaction (good, great or bad), has been gamed and anticipated by China. There is probably no way India can surprise China on this account.
  1. Psycho-economical –
  • The Chinese game and win battles in the mind. But here’s the caveat: because they fight in mind historically, they have also often lost mentally, without much of an armed struggle or a battle. 
  • So what probably scares the Chinese? That which they have not gamed – surprises! How can we surprise the Chinese? By undertaking such actions that are not in response to prior Chinese actions while ensuring that the benefit from such actions for India is greater than the loss endured by China
  1. Reactionary – It is worthwhile to understand that India’s risk profile in this unwanted venture is exceptionally low vis-a-vis China. Risk arises from uncertainty. ‘Uncertainty’ about a possible border row with China held India back by posing as a ‘risk’. There is no more uncertainty about border conflict; it has happened and hence less of a need to hold back since China moved into territory which was treated as No Man’s Land before April 2020.
  2. Habitual – There is no more uncertainty about border conflict; it has happened and hence less of a need to hold back since China moved into territory which was treated as No Man’s Land before April 2020.

So, how to surprise Chinese, after sensible gaming of their possible responses, such that India’s win is more than China’s loss? Mirror troop deployment, banning apps, cancelling infrastructure contracts, befriending other states that have issues with Chinese, activating the QUAD were all moves foreseen, gamed and resolved by Chinese such that their gain will always be more than our loss.

How to surprise the Chinese?

  1. China is authoritarian. India should offer a stable refuge for persecuted or dissenting Chinese Capitalists in the mainland and Hong Kong, scrutinising the legality of their investment just as much as required under FATF guidelines. It is well known that entrepreneurs who do not toe CCP-Xi line are threatened and discriminated against in China.
  • India should carefully use its own intelligence resources and the more established US and Australian services to distinguish the PLA & CCP sponsored businesses from the independent ones seeking to move abroad. India should launch an investment-linked citizenship programme for Chinese and Hong Kong citizens.
  • Large Corporates would often desire to shift their top executives with families. Many Chinese will consider coming and bringing their experience and business along because India is somewhat like China and attractive enough as a developing market.
  1. China intends to harden the fluid line of actual control. India should initiate the hardening of the LAC on its side. There have been commercial proposals to the Indian Army to use advanced technology for freezing the LAC electronically, in its favour, which should be seriously considered.
  2. India should represent to fellow nations the hazards of accepting the Yuan or Digi-Yuan as a global reserve currency. It should also consider coming closer to Taiwan – techno-economically, politically, in terms of defence cooperation and in matters of investment & business, even though the Taipei government upholds in principle China’s territorial claims in the Himalayan region.

SourceIndia Foundation

QUESTION – Discuss the possible causes of recent conflict at the border on India and China. What could be a strategic response to the Chinese threat in the Himalayas?

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