Narendra Modi on horns of dilemma? | Pakistan Today

Narendra Modi on horns of dilemma?

  • Chinese `Go’ versus Indian Chess

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called chest-thumping Narendra Modi `surrender Modi’. While addressing the all-party conference,  Prime Minister Modi said, “Neither have they[Chinese] intruded into our border, nor has any post been taken over by them (China)”. He added, “no one can take even an ‘inch of the land’ The media alleged that China had taken over 640 sq km of Ladakh territory. This fact had been recorded by former foreign secretary Shyam Saran in his 2013 report. But, this allegation was rebutted not only by Saran himself but also by former Defence Minister AK Antony. Even “The Indian army denied that Ladakh had shrunk. Change in the river course was cited as a reason for the loss of 500-1,500 metres of land annually.

Shortly after, India warned China not to alter the status quo ante. Modi’s reaction epitmises the ‘fight or flight response’. Despite whirlwind tours of forward airfields, he did not threaten China with surgical strikes.

India had been nibbling at China all along the Line Of Actual Control. Both countries had been strengthening their infrastructure since Doklam faceoff.

China was particularly irked at India’s unilateral reorganising of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, and India’s opposition to the $60-billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China wanted to pre-empt India from dominating the Durbuk-DBO road, to strengthen its position in the Fingers area, and halt the construction of link roads in Galwan-Pangong Tso [salt lake].

The Galwan hills protrude into the lake like fingers. They are numbered 1 to 8 from west to east. According to India, the LAC lies at Finger 8, but China points to Finger 4. John Bolton’s memoirs The Room Where It Happened should be an eye opener for India.  The USA, under America-First. props up India as a proxy gladiator against China. But, in reality, `India was of “marginal concern of the US national security advisor during his term in office. Bolton did not take the India-Pakistan border clash of 2019 very seriously’. Sanjaya Baru points out `Former NSA Bolton’s book raises questions about US commitment to India’s national security.’

There are shrill calls in India to boycott Chinese products. But an economic blockade is a lot easier said than done. So far India and China have only delayed entry of goods into each other’s country. The Indian Railways cancelled a Rs.4.71-billion contract for signaling equipment with the Chinese Beijing National Railway Research and Design Institute of Signal and Communication, citing inadequate pace of work. The contract, signed in 2016, was for Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited. In the telecom sector, BSNL has indicated that it will not use Chinese equipment for 4G upgradation.

India was able to create difficulties for Pakistan through US support. The freedom struggle in Kashmir was portrayed as `terrorism’. However, Bolton’s book reveals that India does not figure prominently in USA’s national security calculus.  US administrations view India-USA relations through the lens of nuclear non-proliferation, Afghanistan exit and China-Russia relations.

Yet India remains a major importer of crucial Chinese antibiotics and pharmaceutical ingredients, telecom equipment and semi-conductor devices. China’s investment in India has jumped by leaps and bounds. They rose from $1.6 billion in 2014 to $8 billion in 2017. These are in sectors as broad-based as automobiles, electronics and pharmaceuticals and are across the country. One of the top destinations is Gujarat, which the BJP has ruled for 19 years. Other States such as Haryana, Karnataka and Maharashtra also received Chinese investments in infrastructure projects over the past decade.  The 2018 report titled “Impact of Chinese Goods on Indian Industry” pointed out that bilateral trade between India and China increased from $38 billion in 2007-08 to $89.6 billion in 2017-18, and of this, the rise in imports from China was of $50 billion, while Indian exports increased only by $2.5 billion. The report further pointed out that trade with China constituted more than 40 percent of India’s total trade deficit. It identified several key areas where Chinese trade was galloping, including pharmaceuticals, solar power and textiles. Iye noted that China was even dominating the firecracker industry. According to the report, India’s dependence on China for life-saving drugs was 90 percent, and in solar energy China’s penetration was up to 84 percent.

To India’s chagrin, Nepal legislatively amended its maps to show Kala Pani and some other areas as part of Nepalese territory. It allowed China to occupy Gorkha Rui village and strategic lands at 11 places across Nepal, around 36 hectares in four districts.

Differing strategies: Chinese strategist Sun Tzu’s aphorism says “If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”.

Wily India is playing chess with China to checkmate it. But, China is playing the strategy game  “igo”, commonly known as “Go”. It is played on a much larger board 19×19 sides resulting in 361 points, compared to 64 squares in ghess.

In Go, the stones are positioned on the “intersections” of the squares to deny “liberty” to the opponent’s stones. Go also has white and black pieces called stones, but that is where the similarity with chess ends.

The objective of Go is not to capture any single piece; instead, it is to surround a larger total area of the board with one’s stones before the opponent. As the game progresses, the players position stones on the board to map out formations and potential territories.

Contests between opposing formations result in the expansion, reduction, or capture and loss of stones. The winner is decided by counting each player’s surrounded territory along with captured stones.

China has been playing Go, on a multi-dimensional canvas much larger than the Indian landmass and across several spectra, ranging from the military to the economic “intersections”, blocking India’s “liberty” or maneuverability over a long period.

It was India, not China, which set the ball rolling at roulette. India allowed its troops to use arms against China if necessary. This discretion is contrary to four India-China bilateral agreements on maintaining peace and tranquility at the India-China border. These were concluded in 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2013, over a period of 20 years. The use of arms by Indian forces when engaging with Chinese counterparts will inevitably lead to similar action by the latter. Realizing the pitfalls of using arms, India has pulled back angry troops to the hinterland.

Doklam incident opened China’s eyes. There India intervened and stopped China road work at ostensibly Bhutan’s request (India has no border with China at Doklam). It appears that China knows what India has up its sleeve.

  1. Stobden in a newspaper article last year `China’s past border tactics, especially in Central Asia, offer India a clue’points out, `If India falls for some kind of Chinese position over Aksai Chin, Beijing will then shift the focus to Arunachal to emphatically claim 90,000 sq km from India. Ceding Aksai Chin would fundamentally alter the status of J&K and Ladakh’. No more integral part. Just `might is right’ or `jis ki lathi us ki bhains‘ (he who has the staff, has the cow).

India was able to create difficulties for Pakistan through US support. The freedom struggle in Kashmir was portrayed as `terrorism’. However, Bolton’s book reveals that India does not figure prominently in USA’s national security calculus.  US administrations view India-USA relations through the lens of nuclear non-proliferation, Afghanistan exit and China-Russia relations.

India is envious of China’s growing economic clout. Fear of rising China may lead to more confrontations like the recent one on the Sikkim border.

The writer is a freelance journalist, has served in the Pakistan government for 39 years and holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law. He can be reached at [email protected]

One Comment;

  1. sheep head said:

    The intelligent sheep of the herd to analyse first for how many years pakis want to lease for 99 years or 199 years, CEPC (chinese extended paki corriror) a game changer is getting daily power cuts improving from 6 to 12 hours/day but interest to chinese is to be made in dollars. Already they earned their capital by plummeting rupee to 170. Economically pakis are superior to pay capital loans+interests every month+leasing for 99 years?