WHICH WAY CHINA? : A VIEW­POINT

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - LT GEN­ERAL (RETD) P.C. KA­TOCH

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.

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