By Maj Gen Dr Rajan Kochhar
The World Health Organisation Chief called COVID-19, as “Enemy against Humanity”, but it seems ironic that humanity is its biggest enemy. There are many instances in History such as the “Chernobyl disaster of April 1986” wherein the destruction of mankind was self-generated and so as they say “History Repeats Itself” as manifested by “The People’s Republic of China” recent misdemeanors with its adversaries. The Incursions into the LAC with India, the oppression in Hong Kong, evil designs on Taiwan, dominance over Bhutan are some of the recent examples.
The Chinese senior leadership under its President Xi Jinping has exhibited imperialistic designs. It was therefore not out of place when the Indian Prime Minister Modi described these actions as “Expansionistic Tendencies” which have no place in a modern era today. There could have been many triggers for the Chinese to take these actions. A large number of strategic analysts have already dwelled upon it and therefore will not go into these for the sake of repetition. However, the Chinese “Grand Design of Dominance through Coercion”, seems to have back-fired. It would be very difficult now for them to backtrack and return to its earlier stated positions.
On the other hand, India has been emboldened with an overwhelming response from powerful nations of the World. The United States of America has ordered the re-location of its forces from European countries to be poised near the South China Sea. Three US aircraft carriers have been placed as a pivot around Taiwan. Against this, the Chinese Navy has only one recently operationalized aircraft carrier and another aircraft carrier which has not yet been operationalized. Australia and Japan have activated their maritime resources to also contain China in the deep sea waters. In the Asian-Pacific region also, China has no support as Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, Singapore, and South Korea have all been victims of Chinese aggression and have expressed solidarity with India. Russia, which could have been a major countervailing force, has preferred to maintain a neutral stance as it has economic interests with both India and China.
The Chinese encirclement has therefore commenced and is likely to get tighter and suffocating for them over time. The G7 Plus, QUAD, etc are some of the developments which would add to the Chinese woes as a “Migraine”. The Chinese economy has also taken a dent. The growth is showing a negative spiral and its infamous “Belt Road Initiative” has been a recipe for disaster. Its efforts to globalize its currency “Yuan”, as an international tender have also become a non-starter.
The “Galwan “setback for the Chinese has taken them by surprise. They did not bargain for an aggressive response by the Indian Army and got a taste of their own medicine. The setback the PLA suffered at Nathu La in 1967 and the recent Doklam in 2017 still rankles them. The de-escalation of the Chinese incursions has been touted by all to be a long drawn affair. As reports indicate both the armies are preparing for a long haul. The Chinese have entrenched themselves in reasonable measure but it is unlikely that they would stretch it beyond “November”, when the winter sets in and the “Wind-Chill” factor in altitudes over 15000 feet would start taking its toll, despite good logistics and road connectivity.
As a riposte, the Indian Armed Forces have moved in three infantry divisions with their complete arsenal of T-72/90 tanks, Bofors guns, BMPs, M-477 ultra-light howitzers( which can be sling loaded on the helicopters and can hit targets up to 24-30 km with the swift deployment), Sukhoi-30, MIG-29, IL-76, Apache attack helicopters, and C-17 Globe master transport aircraft. The combat ratio between the two armies is even and therefore, there is no way PLA can gain a foothold into the Indian Territory without suffering heavy losses. The PLA has hit against the “Indian Wall” and can ill afford to bring in reinforcements from the mainland as it would make its sensitive East Coast vulnerable. In the meantime, the Indian Army is going in for fast track procurement of ammunition, drones, Sukhoi-30, MIG-29 fighter jets, and S-400 anti-missile systems along with a host of other military hardware.
It is therefore apparent now that the infamous “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy” of the Chinese is taking a beating. Their concept of aggressive and coercive diplomacy has not worked as in today’s geopolitical and strategic environment; all nations strive for economic development and mutual co-operation. China stands isolated today which will impact its economy in a big way. Due to its political, cultural, and ideological differences, the western countries’ suspicions about the Chinese leadership will not disappear soon. A more powerful China needs to be receptive to constructive criticism as enunciated by Prof Zhiqum Zhu, a Chinese foreign policy expert. It is high time, therefore, for the Chinese Government to reign in their expansionist tendencies and be a part of a “World Economic and Social Order”, which demands peace and tranquillity amongst nations as a path towards mutual economic growth. The Chinese need to be reminded of a simple saying “Do not Trouble the Trouble until the Trouble Troubles you.”
Maj Gen Dr Rajan Kochhar, VSM, retired as Major General Army Ordnance Corps, Central Command, after 37 years of meritorious service. The Views expressed here are his own
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