December 1962. The words of former Mongolian Prime Minister Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal during a meeting with former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, “Sorry that China and India had quarreled.” And added further, “Quarreling with India over an uninhabited strip of land in the Himalayas would only force the Indians to turn to the West, and that would not help China’s cause.” (Source: Chinafile.com)
Fast forward to 2020. It seems Zhou Enlai, who is also dubbed as father of Chinese diplomacy, has scripted China’s downfall. For that downfall to happen, they are doing a natural climb up a vertical cliff. After the attack that killed 20 Indian Army personnel, events have now pushed the CCP clearly off balance. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing troops from Union Territory of Ladakh, the declaration of beginning of the end of China has happened. In other words, they have also been pushed from the top of the cliff.
For China, the downfall was visible. Music was slowing down due to trade war with the US. But to pick up a fight with India in the middle of a pandemic is a new low even according to Zhou Enlai’ism. As of today, China currently stares at an irreversible combined defeat on three fronts. The end is near for: 1) Political entity called People‘s Republic of China—diplomatic defeat. 2) Armed wing of CPC—People‘s Liberation Army—military defeat. 3) Communist Party of China—political defeat.
In this background, a sneak peek into some of those issues.
Zhou Enlai’s wolf-warrior diplomacy has closed all the facesaving exit doors for CCP. Implications are going to be rough and hard landing. Ranging from breakup of what we now know as China into multiple independent states and redrawing of maps of north Asia. This has huge implications on Belt and Road Initiative-trapped countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. This is going to have a global impact on the world economy with trillions of forex reserves going bust and turning valueless in a matter of a few weeks. Rumblings have already started over $400 billion in Hong Kong. Add to the mix, a probable implosion of Chinese regime in full. And a rogue PLA takeover, with weapons of mass destruction is the last thing the world would want right now. Powers that be should disarm PLA immediately after defeat and neutralise the nuclear threat in the best possible way. We should also leave no stone unturned to stop it from reaching a terrorist organisation or a state like Pakistan. This is going to be a diplomatic nightmare.
A good start would be to recognise Taiwan and send back Communist Party-appointed Envoys across countries. Give land allotted to People’s Republic of China missions to Republic of China. Let the flag of PRC be replaced by ROC. Let the message go to the larger free and democratic world, that the “game is over” for PRC. First one, to happily follow would be Australia and many African countries.
UNSC role and reform
The UN and the UNSC should step in immediately. The UN should be reformed by replacing China as a permanent member with India. Failing which, the UN may go League of Nations’ way in due course. No, this is not due to non-support of India. But UN’s credibility would be at stake in pages of history. By the time the PRC implodes, China would neither have the moral high ground nor represent the billion people nor have a great economy. Means, little justice to UNSC permanent seat anyways. CCP leadership should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity in International Courts for unleashing pandemic across the world & killing thousands of people while destroying the world economy as we knew it. This might sound punitive in nature, but does the world think China has the moral right to continue in UNSC as a permanent member? Just pure logic.
It is a poignant fact that India with an almost equal population and a democratic country is not being represented in UNSC as a permanent member. It is one of the many glaring failures of the UN, as a world body. This should be cascaded on to other world bodies too & PRC should see itself out of those as well.
The Tibet question
From India’s point of view, until 1950 we never had a border with China. Tibet was a buffer. Tibet that should be talked about in future should include all three provinces of the erstwhile Tibetan State. U-Tsang, Kham & Amdo. Yes, demography is changed, but over time people would turn inwards and find reason for justice. But we’re culturally linked till Mongolia.
We should have all future conversations regarding Tibet, only with Tibetan Government-inExile, that is in India currently. It should be formalized and recognized when they reach Potala Palace (seat of Government of Tibet, when Dalai Lama reaches Lhasa) in due course. In fact, this should be deliberated with Tibetan Government in Exile as the successor to the current political setup of China.
Strange fact, China calls the Shimla Accord (1914) illegal. Reason probably is, communists were not the signatory, but the agreement was with Republic of China (Taiwan). So, whenever CCP claims something, pause & think. Some facts are surely missing. Ask for documents. Chances are that they might not even have it.
Not just India, many other South East Asian countries have an interest in Tibet, also called the water table of Asia, as major rivers of the region have its source there. Brahmaputra, Mekong & Indus. China already has a project to have diverted water from South to North. Plus the mindless construction of dams across the Mekong River has made water levels low in lower riparian states of South-East Asia leaving many areas drought and also affecting inland water transport. Last year, water levels reached as low as 1.5m. Record low. Hope that conveys the intensity.
Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam can’t let China have a knife on their head over this matter. This is like what Chinese have been doing in our own Brahmaputra – where they are building dams to stop flow of water into India from Tibet. Luckily, for us more water comes from within Indian borders than from Tibet. Problem is when Chinese release water from the check dams without intimation or stop sharing hydrological data. Hence, Tibet can’t be with a country which gives zero value to rules-based world order and common sense, basis which humanity operates.
Tibet is sparsely populated and the challenging terrain. If need arises and at the request of Tibetan people and government, India should rise to the occasion and provide security cover to our spiritual brothers across the Himalayas. No, India doesn’t have to get the land or government there. Indian government policy is very clear in this regard. India is not in for greed of land, which PM Modi himself made very clear. We have our cultural interests in Tibet. Like, Kailash Manasarovar and cultural influence through Buddhism extends till Mongolia.
Now two questions might arise in the minds of Western countries: Can India be trusted with this responsibility of protecting Tibet and waters? Yes. Tibetans are spiritually and culturally our brothers. We shouldn’t repeat our monumental mistake of the 1950s. India is surrounded by small nations like Bhutan and Maldives. Never invaded them. In fact, India patrols Maldives’ EEZ in Indian Ocean. India has a free and open border with Nepal.
Can India protect Tibet’s resources on humanitarian reasons? Again, an impartial answer: YES. Purely based on our track record in adhering to Indus Water Treaty (brokered by a World Bank in 1960) has lived through decades of conflict and three major wars with the very country we had signed the treaty with. India has till date, not weaponised water. In fact, giving Pakistan more than what is mentioned in the agreement. Such a track record of commitments can be depended upon.
Taiwan should be recognised as a successor state in case Chinese Communist Party rule ends. An understanding with Taiwan should be reached in this regard, which should end all China’s claims with regards to Tibet and Inner-Mongolia. There should be no space for any political vacuum. Ultimate objective should be democratic, peaceful & demilitarised China—within its rightful land. This should solve the Hong Kong issue as well. Let us be very clear, the war is with Chinese Communist Party. Not the people of China, who have suffered from CCP more than anyone in the world. In return, Taiwan should give up untenable historical claims with various countries bordering it. Including Ladakh, Tibet (as per the original map of 1914. Parts of which are with other provinces) and handing over of inner-Mongolia to Mongolia. Any other dispute be only solved through peaceful negotiations.
Quick facts about PLA: 1) PLA is an armed wing of CCP. 2) PLA reports not to the people but to the CMC (Central Military Commission) which is also headed by Xi. 3) PLA has its own businesses. Former PLA members are part of such companies.
China’s military power is not so powerful to damage us significantly, yet not to be taken lightly. But the caution ends there. A cursory research and even reading some factual replies to military related tweets from Global Times would give you a fair idea. PLA is done and dusted. And is on the verge of being disbanded. As of today, the PLA is behaving like Saddam’s army. CCP is turning out to be a redux of Ba’ath Party. The Iraq government was in denial of coalition forces entering Iraq and even after crossing Euphrates river. PLA’s might is a myth and stands busted. Strategy of the PLA is very simple. Put overwhelming numbers against PLA’s adversaries in the first wave. If the adversary survives the first wave and does calculated maneuvers, it won’t be tough for a battle-hardened force like that of India’s to punish PLA. With not much troops with PLA for back-up, they suffer significant loss as well.
The political commissar system has destroyed physical courage in the PLA soldiers. Else, by now, they won’t set out to start building a narrative of “we were attacked” on CCTV for their population. They would have already attacked India elsewhere, militarily. A military response not coming from such a big force, is a surprise for commoners. Not for those who give their deeds even a second glance.
Forget US, Australia, Japan, India and Russia. The socio-economic reasons behind every soldier of PLA would make one rate other smaller armies better. For example, the PLA has 2million troops. And many more in reserve. Even Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam have a combined troop strength of 1.5 million. That too, fully ready for combat in jungles and is as much battle-hardened as PLA. With some support from QUAD, PLA would be forced to fight another front in jungles of these countries, from high altitude regions of Tibet. This is just land. Situation at sea is even a bigger disadvantage for China. Imagine the theater commander’s nightmares.
China would not get support from North Korea and Pakistan to help them with India & Russia, in case they form an alliance against PLA, they are wrong. North Korea & Pakistan would already switch sides or cease to exist or get busy with their own troubles, when China requires their help most. With the movements happening in SCS & IndoPacific, with almost all affected countries contributing resources, lakhs of troops from friendly countries are ready to take PLA head on. PLA would end up spreading thin across the country. Forget Tibet, would they even be able to defend Guangzhou & Hainan, when push comes to shove? Who would police Xinjiang Uyghur camps? With the current socio-economic situation & past sins of CCP, will their population support CCP’s efforts?
With the majority of troops being young troopers of the “single child policy” generation, it is in the interest of China’s future that the PLA be disbanded. These young troopers are innocent & joined PLA either forcefully or joined to get a college fee waiver. Hence be vetted & sent to their families (except notorious ones). PLA should be downsized to less than 10 personnel / million people. Only police and civil defence should be allowed. For internal troubles. All other arms—PLAF, PLAN, PLARF, PAPF etc— should cease to exist as well. Including external intelligence agencies operating within the Ministry of State Security. With Russia, Taiwan and QUAD turning guarantors of peace and sovereignty of borders, why would China require anything beyond border patrols?
China has started a victim narrative through CCTV by saying India crossed LAC and captured land. China here forgets that it is in occupied land post1962 war and has zero respect for India’s sovereignty in other parts of India’s Union Territory of Ladakh—by operating CPEC through Pakistan Occupied Ladakh. But treats even the slightest disagreement, as an insult.Recently discovered that China doesn’t have a President and that there is only the General Secretary of Communist Party of China & Chairman of the Central Military Commission. Even Xi wants him to be addressed as Chairman Xi and not as President Xi. Why is this information important? Just to point out that China has a head of Party and Military. No Head of State per se. Party has the country. Country doesn’t have a government. Subtle, yet significant.
Pattern to behaviour. CCP operates based on collective bullying & comparing with others. Like, “Everyone listens to me, why are you not listening?” is the standard syntax used for almost everything. This is quite clear in the mindset of ‘wolf-warrior’ diplomats too. Era of expansion through collective bullying is OVER. So, when the imminent overthrow/replacement of Xi Jinping happens, the fall of CCP should be completed too. Identify key people of CCP at village level. World should not be limited to encouraging regime change with another authoritarian in Beijing. Present with an alternative for the people of China (excluding Tibet, Inner-Mongolia & Xinjiang) & they’d prefer to be part of democratic society. Surrounded by democracies like India, South Korea, Japan, Australia & Mongolia, this would rather be quick.
The Chinese judicial system should be scrapped as well. It has a 99% conviction rate. Imagine, “Conviction is the norm, acquittal is an exception”. All symbols of Communism would vanish over time. A free democratic society would be tolerant to various practices like Feng Shui, Falun Gong, Tai Chi etc. A new democratic constitution, with strong affirmation of local bodies, reflecting the aspirations of a Chinese people is the way forward.
Last but not the least, economic costs might be imposed.
A blanket ban on Renminbi trade outside China. Through SWIFT/other mechanisms. Seize the assets of CCP, CCP members, CCP owned companies within & outside China. Including ships & other maritime assets.An investigation into all projects by CCP under BRI and CPEC. Any entity, company that is violating local laws and sovereignty in countries they operate be boldly acted upon and prosecuted without fear of repercussions / fear. Those who join the coalition now, to teach Chinese Communist Party a lesson, should be given an open offer: All overpriced loans would be renegotiated with the World Bank as mediator. All those unnecessary projects would be scrapped right away, freeing them of political compulsions. Then, those forcefully taken over by China in various countries should be returned immediately with financial loss adjusted against auction of seized assets of CCP / PLA. Remaining be given to Chinese people. This will open flood gates and lots of people would turn against CCP—within & outside China. Repatriations should also be paid to countries affected very badly by pandemic.
Overall, we are in a very interesting time which would be defined as a turning point in world history. Especially that of Asia, China and India. It is up to the people in power corridors to decide the exact course of action.
Shreedharan Raman watches strategic moves by countries around the globe, especially China, and writes his opinions occasionally. He can be contacted at write@shreedharan. com.