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East Asia

Could Pakistan be a China?

Amjed Jaaved

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It is naïve for Pakistan government to play China model overnight. China resents its history of humiliation at eh hands of foreign powers (forcible take-over of its sea-ports and resources). Its `religion’, now dollar-orientation, obedient labour force, enlightened leadership with a world vision, and hardwork ethos are different from Pakistan’s.

A water Kingdom

Take water aspect alone. Our lethargy marks a contrast with China’s history. There are more than 22,104 dams in China over the height of 15 m (49 ft). Of the world’s total large dams, China accounts for 20 per cent of them, 45 percent for irrigation. The oldest dam in China Dujiangyan Irrigation System dates back to 256 BC. In 2005, there were over 80,000 reservoirs in the country and over 4,800 dams completed or under construction that stands at or exceed 30 metre (98 ft) in height. As of 2007, China is also the world’s leader in the construction of large dams. The tallest dam in China is the Jinping-I Dam at 305 metre (1,001 ft), an arch dam, which is also the tallest dam in the world. The largest reservoir is created by the Three Gorges Dam, which stores 39.3 billion m3 (31,900,000 acre feet) of water and has a surface area of 1,045 km2 (403 sq mi). Three Gorges is also the world’s largest power station.

Yet, water is scarce in China. The country provides only one-quarter of the global average water per person. Despite international furore about ecological and human disasters due to dam building, China went ahead unruffled.  Small dams are built even in rain-water catchment areas, Philip Ball, in The Water Kingdom; A Secret History of China, p. 293) observes `China lacks a strong tradition of environmental protection, but is in that respect no different to the West’. While building dams, particularly the Three Gorges, China shrugged off international uproar at human displacement. We could not even develop consensus on Kala Bagh among our provinces?

China’s Marxist-social metamorphosis

China was able to bridge the stark differences that existed between rural and urban lifestyles. The hukou system was designed to prevent rural to urban migration.

Our banking sector has consumer orientation. The Chinese system with about 37 tiers has investment orientation.

China `entertained’ foreign investors in every possible way. `In 2001, a count of the out-of wedlock children produced by Shenzhen’s working women and mistresses over two decades numbered 5,20,000…the sex industry is one of the few robust conduits of money backs to China’s impoverished areas (Ted C. Fishman, China Inc. 2003, p. 98). There are karaoke clubs to entertain burly foreign investors.

Aside from Tiananmen Square political protest, China has no tradition of industrial protests. `A fundamental problem with the Chinese working class is that it was disorganized and its protests were often leaderless (Alvin Y.So and Yin Wah Chu, The Global Rise of China, p.144).  The so-called unions just collected funds to organise birthday parties and recreational events. In November 1999, the government announced new rules for public gatherings regarding assemblies larger than 200 to obtain approval from local public-security authorities.

Marxism, too, had different trajectory in China. It first arrived in China in late nineteenth century.  Around 1899, Communist Manifesto was first translated into Chinese.  Many strands of Marxism were involved in overthrowing Qing dynasty. China’s metamorphosis to present-day status was not a straight-path transition. It witnessed several cataclysmic changes, even conspiracies, national and international. It was a turbulent period in lives of political elites and also global status of the country. Following Chinese nuclear explosions, USA and USSR even mulled option to strike at Chinese nuclear installations. Yet, Chinese deft diplomacy helped it avert the threat. China, later, even got recognized as a permanent member of the United Nation’s Security Council.

Social evils

Divested of morality, an ordinary Chinese consider it just normal to give or take `body pleasure’ for money. In Khanewal some Chinese engineers scuffled with police when it tried to prevent them from going to a `red-light area’. Recently some Chinese gangs have been busted at Faislalabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi for fake marriages with Pakistani girls including some underage and later exploiting them as sex slaves (Dawn, Tribune, etc dated May 9, 2019). The police recovered illicit aphrodisiac `drugs’, `gold ornaments’, `dowry’, Chinese passports and weapons. It is generally believed that the arrests are just a tip of the iceberg. In some Karachi areas, Chinese have rented congested adjacent housing units  in various Karachi areas and turned them into `out of bound’ to Pakistanis. What they do there is anybody’s guess. Traditionally, Chinese prefer to develop and live in China towns wherever they go on the globe. In Pakistan, they have avoided doing so as what they eat (cats, dogs, monkey brains, insects) may sound revulsive and non-kosher to Pakistani onlookers. 

The FIA’s human trafficking cell headed by Deputy Director Nadeem Zafar, in an intelligence based operation recovered three Pakistani women and detained 27 Chinese nationals who were allegedly involved in the trafficking of Pakistani women on the false pretext of marriages. The Chinese gang in cahoots with Pakistani go-betweens is making use of internet to attract girls for marriage. Similar gangs are active in Nepal who buy women and take them to China. An underage Pakistani girl revealed that she had married a Chinese man who pretended to be Muslim on the internet but later she found out that the he is an atheist.

The accused conned Pakistani families by `marrying’ girls with the help of local agents and the victims were subjected to sexual exploitation after being trafficked to China soon after their ‘fake’ marriage. Chinese embassy had also tweet-reacted on the reports of the cross-national marriages saying: “Chinese laws and regulations strictly prohibited cross-national matchmaking centres and we hope that the public does not believe in misleading information and work together to safeguard China-Pakistan friendship”.

Chinese campaign against social evils

During the early years1950-54, the Chinese government embarked upon campaign to uproot social vices, a `legacy of the old society’. Brothels in Beijing were closed and prostitutes and procurers were arrested. Opium-smoking and gambling apparatus were confiscated. Mao’s actress wife, Jiang Qing (1938) shared Mao’s vision of empowerment of young people and their promotion to party positions.

Cultural movement

Since nineteenth century May fourth and the New Culture Movement influenced literature, poetry and intellectual contributions. `The True Story of AhQ’ was the first-ever true story to be published in vernacular Chinese, as spoken by ordinary Chinese.

Mao Zedong (born 1893, Hunan) went to Beijing in 1918. He worked for some time in Peking University’s library.  There he became associated with Li Dachau and Chen Duxio, co-founders of Chinese Communist Party, and became a Marxist. On September 21, 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed to the world, `Our nation will never again be an insulted nation. He envisioned an ideal party of workers, peasants and soldiers. This vision was in stark contrast with alternative vision of a party of intellectuals, technocrats, religious leaders, overseas Chinese and former capitalists. For one thing, the Chinese leaderships have all along been bottoms-up not tops-down. On September 21, 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed to the world, `Our nation will never again be an insulted nation. He envisioned an ideal party of workers, peasants and soldiers. This vision was in stark contrast with Liu Deng’s vision of a party of intellectuals, technocrats, religious leaders, overseas Chinese and former capitalists.

Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1964-76) was no bed of roses. During 1964-66, intra-elite transformation was in a state of flux.  Radical years 1966-66 witnessed mass mobilization.  During 1967-69, an imaginary May 16 Conspiracy led to arrest of two strands of leading radical figures, 25 of 29 Party first secretaries was sacked. Lin Biao became Mao’s closest `comrade in arms’ and heir apparent. He masterminded a plot to assassinate Mao, fled towards Mongolia in airplane and was killed in air crash. Period 1968-76 was marked by demobilization, palace intrigues, popular anxiety and subsequent reforms. (Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom (ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China).

The Chinese experience of symbiotic relation between political stat ability and economic progress is different from other countries. China’s history does not corroborate democracy-and -development zeitgeist. China underwent different phases of political orientation 1985-1988 liberal neo-authoritarianism, 1989-1992 neo-totalitarianism, 1993-1996 hard authoritarianism, 1997-2008 soft authoritarianism, 2009-2015 hard authoritarianism, 2016-2018 fluid merit-based authoritarianism. Its political future is constrained by economic transformation of its society. Economic well-being has created a tsunami of expectations. China’s income per capita per annum is US$ 7,593. It has 1.09 millionaires and world’s second largest number of billionaires. Chinese urbanites now possess ‘four rounds’ (a bicycle, a wrist watch, a sewing machine, and a washing machine) and `three electrics’ (a television, a refrigerator, and a private telephone connection).

China’s political future?

What lies ahead for China? Its political orientation in future will be determined, inter alia, by stability in its political periphery including Xinjiang (Uighur unrest), Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan. There have been riots at Lhasa (March 2008), Urumqi (July 2009 and May 2014), and at Hotan and Kashgar (July 2011)

USA’s bully position in South China Sea and its hard line on trade with China also will affect China’s political orientation. The real American aim was to bring home to China that it does not care a fig about Chinese occupation of Manila-claimed isles of Mischief Reef (1995) and Scarborough Shoal (2012). During recent US exercise in South China Sea, a Phillipino general said, “Since Americans are our friends in one way or another; they can help us deter any threat.” US entente against North Korea, India’s reign of terror in Kashmir and terrorist infiltration into Pakistan from Afghan border are windows into US intentions against China and Pakistan.

In any case, trajectory of China’s political future is fluid. It may vacillate between various levels of authoritarianism and semi-democracy. None of them looks like even a quasi-semi-democracy. Yet, Chinese authoritarianism (recall Tiannenmon Square) will continue to heat up Chinese economy to boiling point.

How leaders transform societies?

Pakistan’s prime minister’s office is at stone’s throw from his sprawling 300-kanal-and-10-marla residential estate. But he prefers to fly to and fro office with his dog. His predecessor also were fond of flying in helicopters rather than in motor cavalcades. When heli-borne leaders like them look down upon people, they look like pygmies, insects and then vanish. Perhaps that’s the reason `mahatma’ Gandhi walked around 18 km a day for nearly 40 years. From 1913 to 1948, he walked 79,000 km — equivalent to walking twice around earth. He travelled a lot in third-class railway apartment also to deliver speeches en route about swaraj (freedom). Similarly, Mao Zedong travelled over 6000 kilometers in Long March to create awareness in people. kilometers to create political awareness. Mao’s struggle reflects China’s fascinating Marxist transformation.

China’s metamorphosis to present-day status was not a straight-path transition. It witnessed several cataclysmic changes, even conspiracies, national and international. It was a turbulent period in lives of political elites and also global status of the country.

Around 1899, Communist Manifesto was first translated into Chinese.  Many strands of Marxism were involved in overthrowing Qing dynasty. Following Chinese nuclear explosions, USA and USSR even mulled option to strike at Chinese nuclear installations. Yet, Chinese deft diplomacy helped it avert the threat. During the early years1950-54, the government embarked upon campaign to uproot social vices, a `legacy of the old society’. Brothels in Beijing were closed and prostitutes and procurers were arrested. Opium-smoking and gambling apparatus were confiscated. Mao’s actress wife, Jiang Qing (1938) shared Mao’s vision of empowerment of young people and their promotion to party positions.

Since nineteenth century May fourth and the New Culture Movement influenced literature, poetry and intellectual contributions. `The True Story of AhQ’ was the first-ever true story to be published in vernacular Chinese, as spoken by ordinary Chinese.

Mao Zedong (born 1893, Hunan) went to Beijing in 1918. He worked for some time in Peking University’s library.  There he became associated with Li Dachau and Chen Duxio, co-founders of Chinese Communist Party, and became a Marxist. On September 21, 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed to the world, `Our nation will never again be an insulted nation. He envisioned an ideal party of workers, peasants and soldiers. This vision was in stark contrast with Liu Deng’s vision of a party of intellectuals, technocrats, religious leaders, overseas Chinese and former capitalists.

Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1964-76) was no bed of roses. During 1964-66, intra-elite transformation was in a state of flux.  Radical years 1966-66 witnessed mass mobilization.  During 1967-69, an imaginary May 16 Conspiracy led to arrest of two sands of leading radical figures, 25 of 29 Party first secretaries was sacked. Lin Biao became Mao’s closest `comrade in arms’ and heir apparent. He masterminded a plot to assassinate Mao, fled towards Mongolia in airplane and was killed in air crash. Period 1968-76 was marked by demobilization, palace intrigues, popular anxiety and subsequent reforms. Both Gandhi and Mao had a vision which they shared with people. Could our `change’-chanting leaders do so?

Pakistani sand-dune `leaders’ sans Weltanschanschauung?

Bolman and Deal say `Great leadership begins when a leader’s world view [Weltanschanschauung] and personal story, honed over years of experience, meet a situation that both presents challenges and opportunities’.  They add, `Great leaders test and evolve their story over time, experimenting, polishing abandoning plot lines that don’t work, and re-inventing those that do.  Bad stories often lead to disaster, but good ones conjure magic’(Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E Deal, How Great Leaders Think: The Art of Reframing, 2014, Jossey-Bass, page 193). Weltanschauung is a German word which literally means `world view’. The word  combines “Welt” (“world”) with “Anschauung” (“view”), which ultimately derives from the Middle High German verb schouwen (“to look at” or “to see”). It is a particular philosophy or view of life; the world views of an individual or group. It is a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs forming a global description through which an individual, group or culture watches and interprets the world and interacts with it.

Study of leadership styles across swathes of literature indicates that the two traits, a `world view’ and a `story line’ are common in all business leaders (Steve Job, Penny, Eisner, Ford, and Rockefeller). Or, in political leaders like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Lincoln, whether you abhor or adore them.  Some management texts sum up leadership styles (Robert Blake and Jane Mouton) through grids of `concern for people’ (country club, human orientation) and `concern for results’ (task orientation).  The leaders share their `world view’ with people who fall in line to leave behind a legacy, a story.

Hitler, otherwise viewed as a psychopath, explains his `world view in Chapter 1 of his autobiography (Weltenschauung and party, page 298) Mein Kampf (My Struggle). He says `Thus we brought to knowledge of public those first principles and lines of action along which the new struggle was to be conducted for the abolition of a confused mass of obsolete ideas which had obscure and often pernicious tendencies’. In his autobiography (written in prison), Hitler reviews all aspects of German life, the World War I defeat, collapse of the Second Reich, `the mask of Federalism’, `propaganda and organisation’, `German post-War policy of alliances’, and Germany’s policy in Eastern Europe’. His efforts to forge alliances with adversaries reflect that he was a rational flexible man. Napoleon’s `world view’ (like Julius Caesar’s)  is less pronounced than his lust for `power’ and contempt for `constitution’ (a la ZA Bhutto, Zia, et al). Pakistan’s prime ministers and  prime-ministers-to-be forgot French jurist Jean Bodin’s dictum `majesta est summa in civas ac subditoes legibusque salute potestas, that is ‘highest power over citizens and subjects is unrestrained by law’ (Roedad Khan, Pakistan: A Dream Gone Sour,  p. 179.). Napoleon told Moreau de Lyonne, “The constitution, what is it but a heap of ruins. Has it not been successively the sport of every party?” “Has not every kind of tyranny been committed in its name since the day of its establishment?”

During his self-crowning in 1804, Napoleon said, “What is the throne, a bit of wood gilded and covered with velvet. I am the state. I alone am here, the representative of the people”. Take gen Zia. While addressing a press conference in Teheran, he said, “What is the Constitution?” “It is a booklet with ten or twelve pages.  I can tear them up and say that from tomorrow we shall live under a different system.  Is there anybody to stop me? Today the people will follow wherever I lead them.  All the politicians including the once mighty Mr. Bhutto will follow me with their tail wagging (ibid. pp. 87-88). Dicey said, “No Constitution can be absolutely safe from a Revolution or a coup detat”.

Today, Pakistan has no leader, like Quaid-e-Azam, with a `world view’, no `story line’ of sustained committed struggle. MJ Akber rightly observes `The [Pakistani] political leaders act like sand dunes. They move in the direction the wind blows’ (Akber, In Pakistan Today, Mittal Publications, New Delhi, p. 216). John R. Schmidt agrees, ` The mainstream political parties in Pakistan can best be viewed as patronage networks, whose primary goal is seeking political offices to gain access to state resources, which can then be used to distribute patronage among their members’ (The Unravelling, Pakistan in the Age of jihad, pages 36-37). Why it is so? Stanley A. Kochanek unpuzzles the conundrum by pointing out `Parties in Pakistan are built from the top-down and are identified with their founders.  The office holders are appointed by the leader.  Membership rolls are largely bogus and organizational structure exists only on paper’ (Interest groups and Development, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1983, p.64). `Most political parties are non-democratic in their structure, character and outlook. The process for leadership selection is not by election, but by nomination.  Political parties have no links with policy process as personalities rather than issues matter’ (Saeed Shafqat, Contemporary Issues in Pakistan Studies, pp. 247-256).

Do the people in a land of sand-dunes have the right to revolt?   Liberalist philosophers suggests there is a limit beyond which obedience to rule of law is no longer sacrosanct.  Locke suggests when government no longer fulfils its duty to provide for the common good, individuals have the right to rebel against it; the [social] contract has been broken’.

Human beings created a social contract wherein they bartered some of their naturally derived freedom to get security from a sovereign ruler. They did so as in a state of nature they were `solitary, poor, nasty, brutish …’ (Hobbes).Locke suggests when government no longer fulfils its duty to provide for the common good, individuals have the right to rebel against it; the [social] contract has been broken’.   The US Declaration of Independence a la Locke provides that it is citizens’ duty to throw off a despotic government and provide new Guards for their Security.

An average Pakistani believes that revolutions are not made, they come about from Heavens. He is unmindful that a revolution, revolt or rebellion is `as natural a growth as an oak’ (Wendell Phillips). Yet, the bitter truth is that `a government which is united’ [by mafias in every sphere of life] `cannot be toppled’ (Plato). Apathy had been a feature of pre-partition society also. Till 1857, Moghal `emperors’ lived on British dole, less than one lac (Jaswant Singh’s Jinnah: Partition, India Pakistan). History of intruders is no history (Marx).Only a handful of rajputs committed johar (suicide en mass like Jews at Masada) when besieged or defeated.

The masses remained silent spectators to War of Independence (Sepoy Mutiny 1857) and isolated uprisings in Bengal _ Faraizi movement 1830-57, Santal Pargana 1855, Indigo districts 1859-61, Tushkhali 1855, Indigo districts 1872-75, Pabna 1873, Chhagalnaiya 1874, Mymensingh 1874-1882 and Munshigang 1980-81. David Hume, not any Indian, created Congress followed by four English presidents.

Aware of selfishness of the Indian people, the British created a class of chiefs (chieftains) to suit their need for loyalists, war fund raisers and recruiters in post -`mutiny’ period and during the Second World War. Peek into the pre-partition gazetteers and you would know the patri-lineage of today’s’ tiwanas, nawabs, pirs, syed faqirs, qizilbash, kharrals, gakhars, and their ilk. A gubernatorial gazetteer states, `I have for many years felt convinced that the time had arrived for the Government to try to introduce some distinction for those who can show hereditary services before the Hon’ble Company’s rule in India ceased. I have often said that I should be proud to wear a Copper Order, bearing merely the words `Teesri pusht Sirkar Company ka Naukar’.

Some pirs and mashaikh even quoted verses from Holy Quran to justify allegiance to Englishman (amir), after loyalty to Allah and the Messenger (PBUH). They pointed out that Quran ordained that ihsan (favour) be returned with favour. The ihsan were British favours like titles (khan bahadur etc), honorary medals, khilat with attached money rewards, life pensions, office of honorary magistrate, assistant commissioner, courtier, etc. A tiwana military officer even testified in favour of O’Dwyer when the latter was under trial.

Gandhi astutely perceived psyche of the Indians (Pakistanis included) (a la Tolstoy’s A Letter to a Hindu) that Indians themselves allowed themselves to be colonized for their own material interests.  Otherwise there was no way 30,000 `rather weak and ill-looking Britons could enslave 200 million `vigorous, clever, strong, and freedom loving people (Stegler, 2000).  He lamented that Indians had become `sly sycophants and willing servants of the Empire thereby proving to the world that they were morally unfit to serve the country. Gandhi’s ethos sound reverberated in revolutionary ideologies of several revolutionary movements. If government and people are nationalistic, there would be no need to overthrow them (Lincoln’s dictum `Government of the people for …’).  SunYat-sen (China) translated Lincoln’s principles into nationalism, democracy and socialism. Marx theory of society postulated that economics determines the socio-political realities.  Marx visualized god as creation of human hands, rather than His hand guiding the humans. Lenin envisioned a professional core to lead the revolution.

Mao like Gandhi was rueful at passivity and docility of people.  He wanted people to struggle (douzheng) to smash prevailing social inhibitions in such a dramatic and traumatic way that participants could never again re-establish their pre-struggle relationship.  Mao says `If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself.  If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution you must take part in revolution.  All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience’. `A person learns to swim in the water not in a library’ [of how-to-swim books] (Paulo Freire). Sanerro Luminoso (the Shining Path) also advocated Mao’s ideas of prolonged guerilla warfare as the only way to overthrow the government. Paulo Freire points out “To affirm that men and women are persons and parsons should be free and yet do nothing tangible to make this affirmation a reality is a farce’.

Ayub Khan added the chapter of 22 families to the English-raj aristocracy. About 460 scions of the pre-partition chiefs along with industrial barons created in Ayub era are returned again and again to assemblies. Pakistan’s successive ruling coteries are a miracle that defies common sense and principles of political science. Pakistan’s  sand-dune rulers could not come up with, at least a uniform education, healthcare and housing policy. 

Inference

China’s leaders and morality is different from Pakistan’s. Pakistanis are `committed’ to Islamic orientation. It is however questionable why Islamic clauses in Pakistan’s constitution became a hostage to miniscule obscurantist minority.  Those claiming to transform Pakistan could learn a lot from Mao Zedong. He first understood principles of socialism, and then travelled over 6000 kilometers to create awareness in people. Do our leaders have any vision, ideology?

Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing free-lance for over five decades. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of seven e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes and other Issues in Focus (ISBN: 9781301505944). He holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law.

East Asia

India and China in the clash for Ladakh

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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On June 15, 2020 the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)shot some Indian soldiers dead – approximately 20 – in Galwan, a valley and a river of the Ladakh region.

 The territorial issue in that region is still very difficult to settle: the 1993 Line of Actual Control (LAC) has included 60 square kilometres of ancient Indian territory into the China-controlled area. The control of the DSDBO – Darbuk, Shyak, Daulat Beg and Oldi, the 225 kilometre road that connects the Ladakh region and the Galwan Valley with the outside world – is still to be defined.

For India, in the north of Ladakh, there is also the possibility of a simultaneous war on two fronts, with Pakistan in the Siachen glacier and with China in the rest of the North.

 China has also shown it is not interested in five different peace agreements – in 1993, 1996, 2005, 2012 and 2013 – defined as early as the 1962 war between India and China.

 The “forgotten conflict” that John Fitzgerald Kennedy did not use in the global confrontation with Communism, later choosing – and ill became of it – the confrontation with the Vietminh in South Vietnam.

In 1993 China asked India to stop the extension of the DSDBO and also the return of the Indian troops into the northern area of Ladakh. India, however, is blocked by considerable internal terrorism and by the strong tensions in Jammu-e-Kashmir, as well as by the traditional policy of opposition to Pakistan and finally, by the new maritime trends in the South and the ever more difficult coexistence between Hindus and Islamists.

 Certainly, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) can fight three modern wars simultaneously: the cyber-warfare, the space and finally the electromagnetic wars.

 In conventional terms, China can currently fight a limited regional war and a larger global war, again simultaneously.

Hence what does China really want from India? Firstly, hands free on a border, like Ladakh’s, which is vital to the already started New Silk Road.

 Many Indian leaders have long been asking China to make the BRI corridor cross Kunming in Southwest China up to the port of Kolkata, where it could reconnect to the maritime “Silk Road” through the Bay of Bengal.

 Or China and its Silk Road could enter Uttakharand, via Kailash Manasarovar in Tibet to later reach the port of Mumbai. This is one of the real issues of contention.

Hence China, with its BRI, should not cross the valleys of Kashmir, but the Indian areas.

 India has also quickly pulled out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the large free trade area established in 2012. An implicit favour to China.

Hence what does China really want? Firstly, to use the Ladakh region and Kashmir as bases and criteria to control Tibet.

 The area below, where the Indian army is stationed, south of the Brahmaputra river, is still an easy target for the Chinese missile launches.

 If we consider the Chinese troops in Ladakh and those already present in the Tibetan autonomous region, currently the People’s Liberation Army is actually master of the scene.

However, if the Indian President, Narendra Modi, shows clear signs of India’s realignment on the U.S. strategy in the region, its strategic closure to the North will become inextricable. And very dangerous, not for a war, but for the strategic and geo-economic effects of the closure in the North.

 The Indian troops on the Ladakh border, however, are not a target for China.

 Apart from the Galwan Valley, China is ready to negotiate hard on everything else.

 This means that China wants full security of the lines around the Tibetan Autonomous Territory and the discontinuity-control of the Pakistani forces on the Indian-Chinese border, as well as the maximum mobility of its forces, and finally the guarantee that there will be no military dangers hosted on the Indian territory.

 Jihadist dangers or not. Therefore, China does not need to wage war on India insofar as it can force the Indian government to do what China wants.

 China also wants to reaffirm mutual neutrality between China and India, while it thinks that Narendra Modi has above all nationalistic aims in the Himalayan region and in the arc of the Three Borders.

 Moreover, China did not like the strengthening of relations between India and Australia, as well as the Indian repeal of Article 370 of the Jammu-e-Kashmir Statute, i.e. the “special administrative status” of the Indian State with a Muslim majority.

This has led to the creation of the Union Territory of Ladakh in the Indian legal system. Currently some Chinese maps already draw the territory of Aksai Chin – where China, India and Pakistan meet – with borders that, according to China, show that India is expanding illegally.

 In essence, Modi’s India has chosen on which side to stand in the next andin any case – already started “cold war”. The U.S. side and the side of strategic contrast with China.

 The Sino-Indian territorial tension currently stretches from Lake Pangong and the Galwan River valley, as well as from the Gogra region, to Naku La in Sikkim.

 Neither side, however, recognizes the extent of their respective claims in the LAC area and around Lake Pangong.

The Chinese soldiers in the region come from the 362nd Border Regiment and are quartered in Fort Khurnak, north of Lake Pangong and Lake Spanggur.

Moreover, there is a Chinese base in Gongra and a squadron of boats on Lake Pagong.

Approximately 600+1500 units. To the northwest, there are other Chinese troops from the 6th Mechanized Division.

 The base is in the Taklamakan Desert, but they are mainly reserves from Xinjiang.

An important Chinese strategic goal is to avoid porosity of a border that directly affects Xinjiang.

Therefore, for the Indian Leader, Narendra Modi, there are two choices to make, an economic and a strategic one: to launch India as a global competitor of China, by absorbing the many future “third” processing activities- hence an active control of borders and a regional war even with China becomes rational – or India could join China via the “New Silk Road” and the Sino-centred globalization.

 It is a choice still in fieri, despite the old talk about Chindia a few years ago.

 In terms of economic and trade wars, the issue becomes even more complex.

In the first quarter of 2020 the People’s Republic of China recorded a GDP of 20.65 trillion yuan, equivalent to 2.91 trillion U.S. dollars.

A 6.9% reduction compared to the GDP of the previous year. A significant reduction, but certainly lower than in many Western countries.

 China’s imports fell by 8.5%. A situation that does not enable anyone to start a war, not even a regional or local war.

 In the first half of 2019 alone, China’s tariff war with the United States cost as much as 35 billion to China.

 For China, fighting with India would mean losing 74.72 billion dollars from the rich and wide Indian market.

 Pakistan, a sure ally of China, is in the midst of an economic crisis and cannot afford a war. Therefore, only the tiny Nepal remains, on which you cannot certainly rely for a “long lasting war”.

 On a strictly military level, China is far more efficient than India.

 104 Chinese missiles could hit every part of the Indian territory.

 12 DF-21s missiles are targeting New Delhi directly. The DF-31s missiles are deployed in Beidao, Gansu Province. Some DF 21 and 31 missiles are deployed in Xining, while other DF-21 ones are deployed in Korla, Xinjiang and others in Yunnan.

 For India, ten “Agni” missiles can reach the entire Chinese territory.

Eight additional Agni II missiles can reach the centre of China. But there are 51 aircrafts – the real key to India’s nuclear defence – that can fly over targets in Chinese territory.

 But, above all, Tibetan and Xinjiang targets.

 Only the Indian missions in Tibet could exploit a strategic surprise effect. In other regions the Mirage 2000, Jaguar IS and F-35s missiles would not be particularly successful, considering the level of Chinese anti-aircraft fire.

Currently the Indian forces available for a clash with China in the North are approximately 225,000.

 This also includes the T-72 tank base in Ladakh and a series of Bramhos cruise missiles, stationed in Arunachal Pradesh.

 The three Indian Armed Forces commands that oppose the respective three Chinese commands have 270 aircrafts and other equipment at their disposal.

 China also have high altitude air bases in Tibet, Xinjiang and the Northern Ladakh region.

 This means that the Chinese aircrafts have to leave with only part of their cargo.

Hence the Chinese decision-makers immediately think of a missile attack on Indian positions, without an initial air “passage”.

Obviously it must also be noted that India is strongly opposed to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which crosses Kashmir and the Gilgit-Baltistan area, a project that India has tried to stop with the U.S. help.

On the other side, India has built a lot of infrastructure in its part of Kashmir.

As already noted, there was the economic closure of India, a real gift for China.

Meanwhile, India has asked Russia to quickly send the S-400 and Sukhoi SU 30 MKI missiles quickly, but Russia has no interest in mediating between China and India.

In the background there is also a hardening of bilateral relations between Russia and China, which could leave room for manoeuvre to Russia, not for mediation between the two countries, but for rebuilding the old link between the USSR and India, which was also one of the reasons for tension between Maoist China and Soviet Russia.

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East Asia

China’s reputation in the West is crumbling

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During the past two decades China’s steep economic growth and investments in Europe and the United States have failed to produce an image of the country that would at least correlate with that growing influence. With projects ranging from airport and seaport investments to infrastructure construction, China claimed its rightful place as a global player in world economy. We should, however, point out the two major reasons behind China’s weakness to cultivate a positive appearance on western world.

First and most important factor is China herself. Despite admirable efforts such as the Confucius Institute, the increasingly generous scholarships given to foreign students to study in China’s top universities and collaborations on fields of arts and culture; despite the rich history and the influence it will forever exert upon the minds of intellectuals, ranging from military tradition to philosophy and religion; and despite the rapidly growing influence through modern works that become worldwide success in the fields of literature and cinema, the Asian giant hinders its own efforts to create a positive image by failing in the most important field. The field of politics and political influence.

Reading some of the most prominent news outlets in Europe or the United States, one would think that China has infiltrated the political scene so much that simply pulling some strings would turn the world around. I have most recently read opinions of almost conspiratorial magnitude hosted on some of the most respected news platforms, that present China’s ability to politically influence entire countries as an underground infiltration doctrine. A doctrine that has even recruited apps of the most insignificant and immature content such as “Tik Tok” to spy and control!  However, truth and diplomatic reality show something entirely different. The unparalleled ability of the United States to determine the foreign affairs of dozens of states (either by presenting themselves as their most trusted ally or by intervening in bilateral relations and by dictating their foreign policies, often enough even through direct threats and by imposing sanctions and penalties to countries that do not want to go along the American guidelines), has yet to meet a significant resistance from China.

Admittedly, the United States have shown great skill in political meddling even before the second world war and had the time to perfect its strategies and determine its goals. On the other hand, China is not only new to this kind of game but even when it does involve herself with it, she does so in defense and usually in a crude fashion. We have recently witnessed it again and again during the Hong Kong crisis, where regardless anyone’s stance and views on political matters, the United States have involved themselves with the internal affairs of a foreign state and managed to establish themselves as the morally superior nation against the weak responses from China that nonetheless appealed to reason. This type of defensive approach, response tactics and reasonable compromising may have a fair value in the interior of the country but falls easy prey to foreign diplomatic moves and in the end damages China’s image in the exterior.

Furthermore the positive image of China cannot be cultivated through political action not only due to lack of experience and clear goal of how to utilize it but also due to actual unwillingness to involve herself with local affairs of other countries. A more active involvement from China’s part would be an outright provocation and would disturb the status quo of international politics where the United States and its ruling elite, are the absolute master. Such direct confrontation is deemed risky and unnecessary from Beijing’s part. Meanwhile a positive thought is prevalent that feeds political inactivity. That alongside economic influence, China will gradually and by default, acquire its rightful share in political affairs.

On the other side, China’s image in the west is crumbling due to a carefully planned propaganda campaign. Half-truths and outright lies have been consistently presented as news. For the past couple or more years an interesting phenomenon is becoming more and more prevalent. News networks that on one page present the great economic deals with Chinese companies and on the next attack China’s immoral behavior towards minorities, Muslims, blacks and more recently Hong Kong. It vividly comes to my mind an article from probably the most circulated and credible newspaper of Greece that claimed that Han Chinese were stationed among Uighur families to make sure they eat their ration of pork as  a method to deradicalize their Muslim faith! This type of “news” of course has no traceable or credible source to which one can refer to. In the best case the source is an unverified testimony or a satellite photo of a removed Muslim site. Yet they are tools, acceptable and useful in the political race that has been ongoing after the official recognition of China as a new, independent, and powerful player in the international scene. The more outrageous these news are, the more circulation they enjoy. The more circulation they enjoy the more smear they achieve upon China. A constant attempt to tarnish China’s image is an undoubtful fact; regularly presented as immoral, untrustworthy, and malicious. The recent Covid-19 crisis has been the battlefield upon which China suffered yet another political defeat and a stain on her image among the Western countries.  In many cases this smear campaign was unleashed even through governments and officials such as President Trump and Mike Pompeo.

This political game is leading to more and more countries slowly or more rapidly turning against China, and while Chinese money is welcome, China’s influence is diminishing until entirely ousted from any grasp on geopolitical affairs.

Morally right or wrong, it matters not. China achieved once again in her long history to be one of the dominant powers of this world and deserves a share of dominance in the international political affairs as well. But no one will simply hand that share for free. China must earn her place and to earn that place she needs to up her game. Show the West a better image, gain a better reputation and if needed, fight the same way the West fights her.

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East Asia

China’s maritime exercises, ADIZ and strong US response in South China Sea

Prof. Pankaj Jha

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Apprehensions have been cast with regard to Chinese possibility of declaring Air Defence Identification Zone(ADIZ) in the South China Sea(SCS), and for this purpose it has been conducting exercises as well as patrol missions to counter any possible challenge to its strategic space. The latest exercises which the PLA Navy conducted between July 1-5, was meant to showcase its versatility and approach towards controlling the whole of South China Sea. The location of the exercises was very close to the Paracel islands and also critical island features in the South China Sea.

The US also deployed its USS Nimitz Carrier battle group (comprising of 60 fighter aircrafts on USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan) and gave a befitting response to Chinese adventurism. The synchronised sail of the strike group and flypast of advanced fighter aircrafts clearly showed that even if China intends to announce ADIZ then it would be met with strong US resistance. A Twitter war ensued between China and US with regard to deployment of the US aircraft carriers in the SCS and China proclaiming that it can hunt down the two aircraft carriers through its carrier killer missiles namely DF-21Ds or DF-26s. However excessive show of force by the US has put China on a conciliatory mode, and it has tried to amend its visibly assertive posture in the region. From the US perspective, the response in terms of large scale deployment of US submarines, destroyers, and surveillance aircrafts along with advanced fighter aircrafts have foxed China. China never comprehended that this show of brute power and it dispelled the myth that US navy is reeling under COVID-19 effects.

These countermeasures which have been undertaken by the US Navy should have been taken on much earlier so that China could not consolidate its position in the South China Sea. Chinese aggressive posters have impacted the fisherman of the littoral countries because of unilateral fishing ban, affected oil and gas exploration activities of the other claimant countries, particularly Vietnam and Malaysia. It has also triggered rapid militarisation of the contested region.

The full spectrum deployment of aircraft carriers and other naval assets by the US preceded by the statement by Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State who said that the US needs to redeploy its troops from Europe to the Indo Pacific region. In the wake of developments in South China Sea, India China border tensions in eastern Ladakh, and intimidating tactics adopted by China against Taiwan and in East China Sea, thereby annoying all its neighbours. The US through its pronouncements during the last one decade has proclaimed to develop ‘pivot to Asia’ policy, followed with Indo-Pacific strategy and redeployment of troops to this region. This buttresses the fact that China cannot have a free whaling time in these contested waters. The US would force the concept of freedom of navigation and challenge the Chinese claim of EEZ around its occupied features in SCS.

In fact, China has also been contemplating of declaring Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) and has been conducting reconnaissance to know the viability and compliance. Though, any such move would drain Chinese PLA resources particularly in terms of scrambling fighter jets. Building a compliance mechanism so that military fighter jets and even civilian airliners can comply with the Chinese dictates would be another herculean task. 

Increasing Chinese paranoia can be attributed to the fact that during the ASEAN online meeting much stress has been given with regard to following the UNCLOS in resolving the South China Sea dispute and this stands as a reinforcement of the Permanent Court of Arbitration(PCA) ruling which rejected Chinese claims of EEZ in its occupied islands features. The PCA ruling has highlighted the significance of the freedom of navigation and no right of exclusive economic zone for those features in South China Sea which cannot sustain a human habitation. The PCA ruling would be making its fourth anniversary on July 12 this year and its is expected that China would try to show that it has military strength and naval power to claim its EEZ. International pressure and open condemnation would be effective counter measures.

Increasing US presence in the contentious waters have put pressure on China to accept the global norm of open seas and also the unity of the ASEAN members with regard to extended continental shelf and projecting their unified stance in the UN, highlighted the fact that fissiparous tendencies within ASEAN are a matter of past. Chinese activities and militarization of these islands also contravenes the agreement between Xi Jinping and Barack Obama where China agreed that it would not militarise the SCS islands. This complete disregard of the agreement between the top leadership of US and China also projects that China is in no mood to abide by the international obligations and the code of conduct which even if promulgated in future would be ignored by Chinese military brass.

In conclusion one can very well say that there are three important aspects which got highlighted during this year. ASEAN unity on the subject matter and a strong rebuttal of Chinese claims in South China Sea was a good projection of ASEAN utility and centrality. US naval reinforcements and strong statements in favour of littoral countries as well as military show of strength in these waters have dispelled myth about Chinese invincibility. Lastly, the ASEAN dialogue partners have also taken a strong stance on Chinese aggression and have given strong rebuttal of its intimidating tactics. This attention and international pressure needs sustained support.

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