Xi Jinping’s visit to India:
During September 2014 visit of communist China’s despotic dictator Xi Jinping to India, Indian prime minister Shri Narendra Modi had gifted a Chinese translation of Bhagvad Gita to him. PM Modi often gifts Bhagvad Gita to his foreign counterparts, clearly demonstrating which direction he intends to take India along. Bhagvad Gita represents the best India has had to offer, with it’s divine message of selfless devotion to responsibility. PM Modi, hence, is very direct and unequivocal about his governments priorities. This author does not recall what gift Xi brought for PM Modi, but it is clear that Xi did not gift Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’. Xi clearly wants to downplay the direction communist China intends to take, in relation to their relationship with the rest of the world. There lies a lesson for India, and several other nations such as Japan, Tibet and Vietnam.
Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’:
Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’ has a key message, which is that warfare is not restricted to military forces battling it out. Warfare, according to Sun Tzu, encompasses every conceivable aspect of a nations life. Hence, according to this ancient treatise, warfare can be waged in all of the fronts such as economic, environmental, psychological, diplomatic and several other aspects. Among these, the psychological aspect is given the highest importance, because, according to Sun Tzu, the most successful warrior is the one who wins war without having to wage military battle, by sapping enemy’s vitality and moral. Although India has not fully forgotten Chanakya’s ‘Arthashastra’, she has really not institutionalized the lessons from this ancient treatise in the nations thinking. On the other hand, Chinese imperialists have kept Sun Tzu’s concepts alive, by interpreting these in the context of modern world, and constantly plotting to spread their ‘middle kingdom’ empire. China of today is roughly 2.5 times more in area, compared to China of 1949, what with vast Tibetan and East Turkestan (Xinjiang according to China) captured militarily since then.
India’s mainstream media was taken for a ride:
Indian mainstream media, covering Chinese despot Xi’s visit to India in September 2014, has largely ignored this very fundamental aspect of relations between China and India. Except for a few commentators such as Shri Brahma Chellany, Shri Prakash Katoch, Shri Ashok Malik, Shri Claude Arpi, Shri Arun Shourie, Shri R Jagannathan, Shri Jayadeva Ranade and a few others, much of India’s intellectual elite had focused largely on the purported Chinese investment of US $ 100 billion in India over the next 5 years. The hype of Chinese investment was so shrill, that to the knowledge of this author, not a single large and notable Indian organization had even given a call to boycott Chinese goods, even when over 1000 PLA troops had launched an incursion in the Chumar area of Ladakh, which had been launched simultaneously with Xi’s visit. Note that the call to boycott Chinese goods, issued by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Shri Mohan Bhagwat came only on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami (on 3rd of October). In this environment of hype, it is imperative for Indian people to judge clearly what Chinese threat represents for India.
China’s effort to humiliate India, and India’s response:
Over past several decades, during every diplomatic engagement, whether multilateral or bilateral, China has relentlessly humiliated India. Simultaneously, China has continued to increase her ‘Core interests’, over time claiming almost entire Arunachal Pradesh, and declaring entire state of Jammu and Kashmir as disputed, thus attempting to strengthen Pakistan’s position vis-a-vis this state. Brazenly, Chinese officials have made these claims in Indian cities, in full view of Indian government and Indian media. Every time India has acted cravenly, wishing only to placate China, hoping, in the process, that the ‘dragon will turn vegetarian’, to quote Shri Arun Shourie, from his book ‘Self-deception: India’s China policies – origins, premises, lessons’. To please China, every time during visits of Chinese leaders, India has mercilessly beaten up Tibetan protesters who abide by peaceful democratic means of protests, citing archaic colonial era laws. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is never to be seen anywhere near any government functions. The list of such craven actions are too long and depressing. It was, hence, some satisfaction to see the new government of Shri Narendra Modi trying to inject some spine in India’s dealing with a hungry dragon.
What did the Narendra Modi government do right before, during and after Xi’s visit?
(1) Focus on neighbors:
PM Modi focused on India’s northern neighbors such as Bhutan and Nepal, clearly demonstrating priority of the new government to reclaim India’s lost strategic ground.
(2) Focus on Japan:
PM Modi’s successful visit to Japan in August-September-2014 sent some clear messages to red China. Japan’s decision to invest US $ 35 billions in India over the next 5 years apart, PM Modi’s criticism towards expansionist powers (read China), Japan’s decision to relax trade and technology dealings with India’s high technology research-and-development organizations, progress towards India-Japan security cooperation have riled and worried China. Op-ed columns in ‘Global Times’ gave away this anxiety clearly.
(3) Engaging Vietnam:
India’s president Shri Pranab Mukherji had signed some key agreements in Vietnam just before Xi’s arrival in India, which included Vietnam offering India oil-and-gas blocs for exploration in South China sea and increased India-Vietnam defense cooperation. This riled China further.
(4) Tibet card
On balance, while not unfettered, Tibetans living in India and their Indian friends were able to protest against Chinese despots far more vociferously, than the earlier governments had allowed them. The protesters were clearly visible, media covered His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s statement asking Xi to learn from India, and protesters were actually able to protest just 50 meters away from Hyderabad House, where Modi-Xi summit meeting took place.
(5) Expressing concern over dams on Brahmaputra:
Instead of pussyfooting, PM Modi brought up India’s strong concerns over dams built on river Brahmaputra (Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet), China’s stapled visa policy, repeated PLA incursions in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh and lack of progress in clarifying ‘Line of Actual Control’.
(6) Expressing concern over repeated PLA incursion:
During summit meeting, PM Modi expressed India’s concerns over PLA incursion in Chumar strongly, and made that a main agenda of the summit meeting. This conveyed to Xi that India will talk border first and then business.
(7) Business-like press conference:
The joint press conference actually did not produce meaningless platitudes like joint statement, and PM Modi’s body language during the press conference, when referring to PLA incursion and India’s concerns, were decidedly tough. Notable was the usage of the phrase ‘strong concern’.
(8) USA card:
On the day Xi arrived in India, India and the USA started their joint military exercise.
(9) Linking of “One-China policy” with “One-India policy”:
PM Modi’s government clearly rejected ‘One China’ policy and made it clear that India will not agree to this as long China does not agree to ‘One India’ policy.
(10) Focus on Chinese games over visa:
PM Modi’ government categorically rejected liberalized visa regime for Chinese, while China continues to give stapled visa to residents of Arunachal Pradesh.
(11) Focus on security concerns with respect to Chinese goods imported into India:
PM Modi’s government clearly rejected Chinese demands of exempting Chinese equipments from security checks in Indian ports/airports.
(12) Highlighting trade imbalance:
Modi government clearly highlighted the trade imbalance.
(13) Initiate more aggressive border management:
Indian government announced making Indian army responsible for managing LAC, instead of ITBP. This is a clear message to red China and India will match PLA’s aggression pawn-by-pawn.
(14) Call “Spade a spade” with respect to Chumar:
During the incursion in Chumar, Indian government had not downplayed it, neither did it restrict media coverage.
(15) Firmly push PLA back from Chumar:
During the Chumar incursion, PLA tried building roads inside Indian territory in the central Ladakh area of LAC, as well as Sikkim. Indian jawans destroyed those roads promptly, giving a clear message to PLA.
What mistakes did the government of PM Modi do before, during and after this visit?
(1) Unnecessary defensive posture regarding Dalai Lama:
Asking His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to shift his public engagement to Mumbai. Such show of respect towards Chinese ‘sensitivities’ on part of India only conveys India’s weakness to China.
(2) Bad optics:
PM Modi sitting on swing with Xi in Ahmadabad while Indian jawans faced PLA in Chumar (Ladakh) did not make pretty viewing. India should have been ruthless, and cancelled Xi’s visit since PLA did not vacate Chumar.
(3) Inability to read Chinese cunning:
PM Modi did not read the Chinese cunning fully – note how, in the context of Nathu La route being opened for pilgrimage to Kailash and Manas Sarovar, ‘Tibetan Autonomous Region’ crept into the statement. Well, TAR is roughly one-third of Tibet, and allowing something like TAR in the statement, India missed calling China’s bluff. Tibet, and entire Tibet, not just moth-eaten ‘TAR’ – must be freed from red China’s clutch. Today, the entire Tibet, and not just ‘TAR’, is in illegal occupation of China.
(4) Clear and unambiguous information dissemination about Chumar:
While the Indian government held firm and the PLA had to leave Chumar, there were disturbing reports in the media that India has agreed to dismantle observation hut built by Indian army in Chumar. The report could not be verified. Indian government should be proactive in categorically scotching such rumors, if these indeed are rumors.
India, and friendly nations, must clearly understand threat from China:
In summary, India (and nations such as Japan, Tibet and Vietnam) should clearly understand that red China understands only one language, and that is of force. Neglecting infrastructure development in border areas, stopping civilian population from settling in the border areas, continuing the inadequate defense preparedness are nothing short of crimes, as far as governance is concerned. The political leadership must hold the nerve, and not blink first. As far as Indian citizens are concerned, boycotting Chinese goods is a crucial imperative. Look how Indian industries are shutting down due to flood of Chinese imports. If Indian citizens can not sacrifice even a little bit, and must hanker after Chinese goods, then Indians must ask themselves whether they are a nation worth defending?