WHICH WAY CHINA? : A VIEWPOINT
China on one hand has been arming and advising the Taliban in fighting the NATO-led ISAF in Afghanistan, concurrently it has been conspiring with Pakistan how to accelerate and integrate insurgencies in India
As the new leadership under Xi Jinping takes formal guard in Beijing this month, many question marks are emerging as to which direction China will take under the new dispensation. Forging links with the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) nuclear forces at the earliest opportunity, going after corruption and the smiling countenance of Xi Jinping with talks of political reforms, give rise to much speculation.
Political reforms are linked to China’s out-of-control political economy, examples being, state monopoly of industries and similar real estate bubble. Though commercial and social media now affect Chinese society and politics, the unrest in youth is palpable. However, given the fact that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is continuing in power doesn’t really leave much scope of manouvre for Jinping. The CCP is responsible for China adapting aggressive posture in recent times and will be looking for consolidating power by applying China’s galloping comprehensive national power more and more externally albeit with Sun Tzu’s characteristics “to win a war without even fighting a war,” small scale conflicts notwithstanding. It is the emerging new US doctrine of “letting things play out in a region” that encourages China more than the present downturn in US economy. Interestingly, PLA Chief reports directly to the CCP and not to the Chinese Government, PLA Generals form part of the Politburo and hardliner PLA Generals are advisors to the China Reform Forum.
Tibet and Taiwan will continue to be the areas of core national interests, as declatrd by China. Recent appointment of hardliner Losang Gyaltsen (Vice Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) in 2011 and Alternate Member of 18th CPC in 2012) as Governor of indicates China doesn’t want to ease oppression in Tibet. Desire to add more buffer to Tibet has led to Chinese strategic footprints in Northern Nepal and Gilgit-Baltistan, latter also facilitating Chinese strategic designs in Afghanistan, CAR and Indian Ocean region. In the same vein are Chinese claims to Arunachal Pradesh and illegal occupation of Aksai Chin and Shaksgam Valley. While issues like PLA’s increasing capabilities, both conventional and nuclear including missile capabilities under PLA’s Project 249, some 4,800 kilometres maize of underground tunnels pan China housing nuclear assets and the January 2, 2013 CCTV military news showing India as the target for China’s new air combat simulation system need monitoring, of immediate concern should be Chinese deliberate efforts to boost insurgencies within India, particularly Maoists.
Historically, China has waged unconventional warfare through spread of communist ideology. Maoists in Nepal were created by China and they are firmly linked with Maoists in India. Chinese links with Al Qaeda and Taliban go back to over a decade plus but what has been significant to India is China’s advice to Pakistan to create irregular forces to fight in India’s backyard and tacit support to Pakistan’s anti-India jihad. Pakistan’s proxies with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) in the forefront, therefore, indirectly become proxy-proxies of China. China on one hand has been arming and advising the Taliban in fighting the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, concurrently it has been conspiring with Pakistan how to accelerate and integrate insurgencies in India. United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) after being routed from Bhutan, were given asylum and support by China. Chinese nationals with fake Indian documents have been caught in a bid to contact Naga insurgents. China is not only supplying arms and communication equipment to Maoists, it has in recent months augmented arms manufacture capabilities to Maoists and Kachen rebels in north Myanmar and latter are supplying assault rifles to the PLA in Manipur as well as to Maoists under cover of deniability.
While China-Pakistan “higher than the mountains, deeper than the ocean” relationship is a full spectrum bond, China’s irregular allies and plan to establish an unconventional springboard for enlarging operations behind enemy lines is in line with Sun Tzu’s preaching, “To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill”. India would do well to take note and take countermeasures. The views expressed herein are the personal views of the author.