As any Indian would know, for the past 57 days (since 5 May 2020), there has been a border standoff between China and India. Troops of both countries have engaged in aggressive skirmishes, face-offs and hand-to-hand combats, at several locations along the Indo-China (Sino-Indian) border, including near the disputed Pangong Lake in Ladakh and Tibet, and near the border between Sikkim and Tibet. Additional clashes are ongoing at locations in Eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de-facto border since the 1962 Sino-Indian War.
As per Indian sources, 19 Indian jawans and a Colonel were killed and 76 injured (18 of them seriously) on the night of 15 June, while the Chinese side suffered 43 casualties. However, the American magazine US News & World Report said in an article on 16 June that 35 Chinese troops including one senior officer died, quoting American intelligence sources. These sources could be the NSA or the CIA, or both. I say this because I have quite deep knowledge of American intelligence, which is evident from my two books, USAma and I-SPY.
Anyways, whichever version you believe, it is clear that India had the upper hand.
There have been simultaneous efforts by China to occupy land at multiple locations along the Sino-Indian border. Locations where the standoffs and skirmishes have taken place are Pangong Tso, Hot Springs, Galwan Valley and Depsang in Ladakh; and in Sikkim as well.
Many ‘experts’ have said that the skirmishes were a response from China to the development of Indian infrastructure in Ladakh, particularly the Darbuk–Shyok–DBO Road, which connects Leh with India’s DBO (Daulat Beg Oldi) military base. India’s former ambassador to China, Ashok Kantha said that these skirmishes were part of a growing Chinese assertiveness in both the Indo-China border and the South China sea. Some others said that it was a show of strength for China amidst the COVID-19 pandemic which had damaged the Chinese economy and its international reputation.
What else could be the real reason/s?
China’s fast and massive economic growth over recent decades added a lot of muscle to its political and military strength. It also led to a huge swelling of ambitions and egos of individual leaders and of the nation as a whole. Suddenly, China started viewing itself as the world leader with grandiose plans of world domination.
After several decades of strong growth, Xi Jinping emerged as the top leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and quickly consolidated his hold on power and safely established himself as ‘President for life‘.
The world was blinded until just a few months back at the economic miracle that China seemed to have achieved. And, yes, there was indeed quite a miracle, at least at the macro level.
Chinese economists and others that tomtommed their successes (courtesy some financial inducements, perhaps) spoke of an annual per capita disposable income of 30,000 Yuan (US$4243).
But, what no one spoke about was the fact that 600 million people are surviving on less than 1000 Yuan (US$141) a month, or that China faces an unemployment time bomb. Following the recent National People’s Congress, none other than Premier Li Keqiang spoke about this at a media briefing.
China started doing what the western powers did for long…give loans to poorer countries and buy influence over their politics and economies. It invested hundreds of billions on Xi’s pet project, the Belt and Road Initiative. This is all very well, but in the process China was spreading itself thin.
Then China (allegedly) unleashed the Coronavirus on an unsuspecting world. While it quickly appeared to stabilize itself, the rest of the world has still not managed that. China believed it would be its moment of glory while the world struggled with a disease it had no clue how to handle, it would leave the field open for China to start moving its pieces on the grand chessboard of global politics and economics.
Unfortunately for China, it did not reckon for a defiant and headstrong US president (Donald Trump) followed by a chorus of international voices that would throw a challenge at it. After all, China was the ‘factory of the world’ and most countries on earth depended on it to meet their economic needs.
The chorus of voices became a crescendo as China threatened one country after another but no one seemed to be affected by its threats. That’s when Xi started feeling threatened and began to panic. He began to start taking offensive action against one country after another. In the process, all he managed to do was to collect all enemies in one basket.
As the global chorus to take punitive action against China and its dictatorial regime grows following its alleged unleashing of biowarfare on the world, there’s a steadily growing clamor to ‘BOYCOTT CHINA’ and its goods and services. Just yesterday (June 29), Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s Indian government banned 59 Chinese apps.
With China’s economy shrinking faster than it will ever concede, the real hit will come as export orders begin to dwindle. Many companies have already started closing factories in China and relocating them to other countries. In addition, with exports slowing down, more and more factories will start closing. Workers who had left their traditional rural jobs and occupations will suddenly have neither jobs, nor income, but they will still have access to money that they have managed to save. Without jobs and facing a dark future, they will begin to spill out into the streets. With time on hand, food in the stomach and money in hand, these angry rural folk will be impossible to contain.
With over 400 million people affected by the ongoing floods, if the number continues to rise and floods worsen, anger in the streets and the countryside will rise. Traditionally, the PLA has always responded to emergencies but this time most of the army is tied up in the countryside to quell any signs of rebellion. As floods wreak havoc, people are left unaided by what they see an increasingly uncaring government.
Following the bloodied noses and broken spines that the Indian Army gave the PLA wimps in Galwan Valley, there has been a chorus among the well-heeled urban netizens in China for truth and answers, answers that Beijing dare not give. It responded characteristically, instead, by tightening censorship online.
Now, there’s all-around anger, disaffection and a huge loss of confidence amongst common citizens. China has a history or rebellions. And today, there’s a massive rebellion brewing against Xi Jinping. Unable to politically take on those asking for his resignation recently, Xi reportedly unleashed his uniformed bullies, the ‘Ying Pai’. That may have silenced his detractors in the CPC for a while, but for how long? [Ying pai means hawks or eagles in Chinese. Many ying pai are military leaders who have far more power in China than do military leaders in India or USA.]
But as the Chinese economy shrivels, unemployment skyrockets, exports disappear, trust evaporates and confidence disappears, what can a troubled bully do but stumble from one mistake to another, compounding his sins?
That’s precisely what Xi Jinping is doing and his India misadventure happened in the midst of these unhappy happenings for the tyrant. India has hurt Xi deeply and it’s a wound that’s festering already.
He had hoped that his dear trusted general Zhao Zongqi would deliver him from the mouth of hell that he’s created for himself. Instead, the general and Xi are both a step closer. The hellfire is burning into them and neither the general nor his commander-in-chief (Xi is also Chairman of the Central Military Commission of China) can stand the heat…