China – Lessons to be Learnt from History

China is at it again. This time it is at the tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China, named Dok La, Dok Lan and Dong Long by the three countries respectively. China is trying to construct a road meant for its military in an area here, which is a disputed land between Bhutan and China and where there is an agreement between Bhutan and China that no party to the agreement shall do anything unilaterally.

Bhutan has lodged its protest to China over this construction through its diplomatic channel in Delhi.

This construction of China will allow this country to have a decisive military strategic advantage over India in the event of a confrontation. India and Bhutan have special relations and under an agreement between Bhutan and India, India has the responsibility to defend the Bhutan’s territorial integrity. By this unilateral construction against its bilateral agreement with Bhutan, China is trying not only to occupy a large part of the Bhutan’s land but also to pose a challenge to the Indian security.

China knows full well that by its act it is posing a serious threat to India’s security and has been made aware of this by the Indian protest. But China is insistent to do what it intends to do.

There is likely to be a meeting between the Chinese President and the Indian Prime Minister in a meeting of G-20 countries to be held in a few days from now. All eyes will be centered on an eventual meeting between these two leaders and the outcome of such a meeting. This is the normal way of trying to resolve international disputes between countries.

But India must also pay attention to something else. It is learning from history.

Resources to learn from history:

India always must remember one thing: China has a long-term goal of transforming this country into an uncontested sole power in Asia to pave its way to the end destination of being the world’s super power; and all its strategies are made to serve this goal. To forget this basic principle of China would be the greatest mistake of India.

Therefore, India would do well to study the history and learn a few lessons in dealing with China. What are these lessons? Let us recapitulate them:

  1. China launches an offensive when you least expect it. It is the strategy, which China has perfected since its rise as a communist state. Surprise always has an advantage – sometimes the decisive advantage – in military affairs. The foundation of this tactic is deceit. A simple methodology is adopted: They will talk to you; invite you to talk; make some hopefully seeming compromising gestures; relying on them – hope of peace – you are in their trap. It is a calculated move to make you lull. It is the first lesson India must learn. Vietnam had learnt this lesson the hard way in their confrontation with China. India had learnt – learnt or not? – this lesson in 1962 Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai, when India’s Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru openly took the position that China is our friend, it is a socialist friend, we have served this China’s great interest by sending Dr. Kotnees there to nurse wounded communist soldiers, we do not need an army in so far as China is concerned … etc. What are the lessons to be learnt, then? If they seem to be compromising in talks – not on the real ground where armies are face to face – be alert to the coming offensive; it is better to err on the correct side. Prepare yourself and be ready. If you are not visibly prepared and taken in for their sweet talks, you are gone in their trap. Therefore, to meet this strategy of China and to frustrate their calculated outcome of this strategy, India would do well to be ready – fully ready with its entire arsenal – to launch a counter offensive in accordance with its own planned strategy.
  2. China is expert in launching a quick offensive – and after winning a stunning but short victory in this offensive – and suddenly and promptly declaring cease-fire, end of hostilities, truce, peace and, singing the virtues of peace, leaving the disputed issue as it is and offering to resolve this issue by negotiations and talks. It is a tested strategy. It has been tested with Vietnam, India, USSR (on Mongolia), USA (in Korean war) etc. The advantages of this strategy are: you demoralize the enemy; you make your enemy to mentally prepare to accede to some of your (China’s) demands; to enhance your military stature among the possible next victims and make them psychologically ready to give you (China) concessions, albeit unwillingly; it is not for nothing that Philippines – even after winning a legal case against China in an international judicial forum – is ready to forgo its legal victory and willing to negotiate with China; one can very well understand, what is left there for Philippines to negotiate with China. What lessons India is to learn from history? Do not allow China to cut short a possible long war; take the war inside the territory of the enemy; Chinese soldiers are nowhere in bravery of the Indian soldiers; they cannot withstand the Indians for long. In today’s capitalist China, there is no indoctrinated zeal left in the army and they are a mere professional army, like that of any other country. India is not for war; it has never been for war; but if the war is imposed, India should not – and will not – slick to answer the threat. Therefore, never allow China to reap this calculated advantage of this strategy of hit, win and go home; there must be imposed a heavy tax on such strategies.
  3. The ‘Absolute’ truth of military science today is: It is not the soldiers who fight; it is the technology that fights and soldiers merely make this possible for the technology to let do its work. What is to be done and when, is all decided by the technological capabilities. Therefore, while there is peace – and it is hoped that there will be peace – India would do well to put all its technological capabilities and advantages in place to meet the emerging possibility of war with China. The lesson to be learnt is: Err on the correct side. After all, there is no harm in getting fully ready, except that it would cost some extra money.
  4. India should take full advantage of its imagery satellites to locate the enemy’s potential targets of military importance and deploy its arsenal aiming at them in advance to work when the need arises.
  5. India also needs to change its policy towards China on a long term basis. India should devise an original plan centered on Tibet and have a dedicated team comprising topographical and military experts to study the feasibility of cutting Tibet from the rest of China and holding this mountain land militarily as an independent country, like Bhutan. Commensurate with its needs, India should search for and source the needed military hardware. This strategy should be the strategic pivotal point in dealing with China.
  6. Let India advocate peace; hope for peace; inform the international community about the facts of this case and Chinese designs. Get all the friends together on Chinese international behavior – South China Sea, Tibet and Dok La.
  7. Post script: In the comment section of an article relating to China’s threat to India published in a Japanese newspaper, there is a very significant comment by somebody worth attention by the Indian government. It says that India very well knows that it (India) does not route rouge state of Pakistan, which it can do anytime it decides, only because Pakistan holds the threat of atomic war – and the end result is there is no war between India and Pakistan. It is a tested strategy to an ensured result. India must make it clear to China that it (India) will use its atomic weapons against China if it becomes necessary to do so. A good idea.

Law, Outlaw and South China Sea

By: Shreepal Singh

The occasion was the 16th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue – a security forum – at Singapore on June 3, 2017 and the firework was between the U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis and China’s state representative on ‘South China Sea Dispute’.

The US side bluntly stated the facts and the Chinese side termed it the ‘irresponsible’ statement of the rival.

While the two powers stood their grounds, like contesting wrestlers, the other participants watched much like spectators.

There is the territorial dispute of sovereignty over this vast area of Waters. As with individuals, it is normal with nations also to have occasional disputes.

Such disputes have the potential to bring a disaster to the humanity at large and our world by paying a very heavy price in the past in terms of human lives has learnt a lesson.

The putting of United Nations Organisation and all its progeny institutions in place of the erstwhile League of Nations for resolving disputes among nations are born out of this wisdom of our world. International Court of Justice and International Arbitral Tribunals are our – world’s – accepted mechanism to resolve our disputes.

It is an acceptance based on our common ethical sense. And to give this ethical sense the power of some real teeth, the Permanent Members of Security Council of UN – the Five Greats – have taken on themselves the responsibility to ensure others’ compliance.

It has worked so far nicely and looks good.

But what would happen if any one of the ‘Greats’ doesn’t honour its word, doesn’t care for others interests and doesn’t want to follow the ethical behaviour?

This is what has happened with China at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

At this Dialogue Mr. Mattis bluntly pointed out that the acts of China in constructing artificial islands in the South China Sea and putting military facilities thereon was in violation of the international law, undermined regional stability and was in utter disregard of the interests of other nations.

We know that these Chinese acts of construction and militarization of artificial islands were declared in violation of international law by an institution that has been put in place by the world community for such dispute resolution. And what did China say to this accusation?

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China’s construction of facilities in the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea was aimed at improving working conditions for people stationed there, maintaining sovereignty and fulfilling China’s international responsibilities. China on its foreign ministry website unabashedly further remarked that these were China’s sovereign activities and had nothing to do with militarization.

What would the world community make out of such response of China?

The stark reality open to one and all is that here there is a dispute, many nations – Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan – claim their territorial rights in South China Sea as against China, the internationally recognised judicial institution has given its verdict against China and China is adamant in persisting its unethical behaviour by advancing spurious arguments, like countries around the South China Sea had tried to lower tensions, but others outside the region have been bent on going against the trend, making repeated erroneous remarks, ignoring the facts and confusing black from white with entirely ulterior motives.

Does China know – or pretends not to know – that there is tension in this region because there is this dispute; a powerful country doesn’t humbly accept the verdict against itself but tries to lower tension (or threatens?); who is outsider in our global village, particularly when the world’s trillion dollars’ trade is being carried through South China Sea?

What are the facts and who is ignoring the facts? The white is that an international judicial forum has given the verdict against China and the black is that China is behaving unethically by not accepting this verdict and the legitimate claims of other nations.

And, the ulterior motives of outsiders? Motive is that China should be pressed upon to behave ethically and to accede to the legitimate claims of other nations.

The motive is that no country howsoever powerful be allowed to behave as an outlaw. Is this motive ulterior?

In fact, this episode has brought into focus the urgent need of reforming the international institution of UN by way of making it the true representative of all current – established or establishing – world powers, including making the veto power in the Security Council a matter of the decision by majority.

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