CHINA’S FIVE MAJOR FAULT LINES - The Daily Guardian
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CHINA’S FIVE MAJOR FAULT LINES

One has to politically and diplomatically target the five instabilities of China—Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjian, Mongolia and Hong Kong—if it has to be contained for the greater good of the world as a whole.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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The emerging view in the US is that PRC poses the greatest threat to democracy and freedom. It intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically. The view emerging from the EU through NATO is that the scale of Chinese power and global reach poses acute challenges to open and democratic societies, particularly because of that country’s trajectory to greater authoritarianism and an expansion of its territorial ambitions. In recent times, China shifted blame from itself to all others for the spread of the virus, sought public expressions of gratitude for aid rendered, suppressed democracy in Hong Kong by flouting international commitments, undertook aggression against India, and threatened to invade Taiwan. All this assertion resulted in negative sentiments about China which spiked to 86% in some countries.

For India, the current situation in eastern Ladakh is only the tip of the iceberg. Chinese support to the ‘nuclearised beggar’ Pakistan is unabashedly expanding. The Brahmaputra diversion plan is disastrous for India’s Northeast. Militants and extremist groups of the Northeast are sheltered in China. It has reignited the Doklam issue. It is hyper actively driving a wedge between India and Nepal. It wants an entry into the Bay of Bengal by actively destabilising and coercing Myanmar. As it strives to surpass the US as the undisputed numero uno, it suppresses India, its main competitor. It is now widely propagated and discussed that Mao considered Tibet to be China’s right-hand palm, with five fingers—Nepal, Bhutan and the three Indian territories of Ladakh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh- that China was also meant to ‘liberate’.

The common thread: China poses a great threat to almost everyone through economic, military and technological domination and territorial expansionism. This needs to be tackled. 

INWARD-LOOKING CHINA

In the early 20th century, China was busy fighting civil wars and taking disastrous ‘Great Leaps’ all round. It was totally internalised. In the latter half of the 20th century, China consolidated through internalisation. However it quarrelled with all its neighbours including India. In the last quarter of the 20th century, China reformed its economy and sharpened its politics to gain clout. However it still remained in the shadows, biding its time as per Deng Xiaoping’s ideas. China under Xi Jinping is now an ambitious, outward looking expansionist state. If this greedy expansionism is to be capped, China must be made to look inward as before. An inward looking China will get automatically contained. China cannot be made to look inwards economically or militarily. It must be done politically and diplomatically. Pakistan is a parallel for better understanding. Despite sporadic spikes in violence in Kashmir, the threat from Pakistan is far lesser than it was last year. Why? The political axe of Abrogation of Article 370 left Pakistan crying hoarse on the side lines. Further the ongoing PDM has taken Pakistan into uncharted territory. The internal political muddle reinforced by a weak economy, ensures Pakistan is less of a worldwide nuisance than before. Kinetic  action would not have achieved this effect. Similarly, Xi Jinping and the CCP represent an ideology which must be handled politically. If China has to look inwards its politics, propaganda and PLA must be enmeshed in problems within. One has to politically and diplomatically target the five instabilities of China—Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjian, Mongolia and Hong Kong. 

FIVE INSTABILITIES

Taiwan: China wants to gobble up Taiwan to realise its ‘One China’ dream. Look back into history.  Long after Chiang Kai Shek, the original Chinese nationalist, retreated to Taiwan (Republic of China) with Kuo Min Tang (KMT), it was known as  the real China. If ever CCP becomes shaky, the democratic alternative has to come from Taiwan. Hence, Taiwan threatens PRC and CCP as nothing else.  Taiwan is a fully democratic system with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in power and the KMT now in opposition. Keeping this island of democracy alive and strong at the  Chinese doorstep largely contains China. Despite fundamental political differences, cross strait investment, businesses and economic ties are strong. Economics, commonality of culture and  language provides  Taiwan a conduit into China. Overall, expanding political connections  and diplomatic relations with Taiwan force PRC and CCP to act irrationally. Presently only 14 countries have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan and 57 have informal arrangements. This needs to be enlarged.  More  democracies must establish full relations with Taiwan. On its part, India definitely needs to enlarge the relationship. In a very implicitly explicit manner China needs to be conveyed that the ‘One China’ principle is under de-recognition. The moment ‘One China’ is not acceptable unconditionally, China will recalculate. 

Xinjiang: Xinjiang or East Turkestan was never integral to China.  Its autonomy  waxed and waned as the Chinese power varied. The people are different and their culture is more Turkic. The region has been  restive and unstable for long  with sporadic eruptions of violence. Xinjiang is strategically important since it borders the CARs, Afghanistan and Pakistan with the CPEC running through it. Presently it is under the vice like grip of Chinese repression. The US government estimated the PRC has detained more than one million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Hui, and members of other Muslim groups, as well as some Uighur Christians, in specially built internment camps or converted detention facilities in Xinjiang and subjected them to forced disappearance, political indoctrination, torture, psychological and physical and psychological abuse, including forced sterilization and sexual abuse, forced labor, and prolonged detention without trial because of their religion and ethnicity. Strictly speaking, this area is ripe for a serious rebellion if it gets some outside support through its porous borders. The US has already imposed economic and visa-based sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Supply chains involving Xinjiang forced labour are being curtailed. There is scope to formally investigate Human rights and genocide related abuses in Xinjiang. It is time to stop talking and start acting.

Tibet: For long Tibet was considered as the weakest link of the Chinese firmament. However, Dalai Lama’s Middle Path approach, Indian recognition of Tibet as part of China in 2003 and other religious, socio cultural and economic issues have given China a relatively upper hand in the past few decades. China is now embarking on a massive program to solidify Tibet in the communist mould, tinker with Buddhism and replicate the Xinjiang model here. The Tibetan Government in exile in India and a change of strategic calculations could catapult Tibet into centre stage to bring  China to heel. However, the US and India must take a conscious decision to do so. The US has already initiated action by appointing a special representative for Tibet. How that will be followed up will depend upon the incoming Biden administration. On India’s part the hesitation is twofold. Firstly there is apprehension that any meddling by India in Tibet will lead to China returning the favour in the North East, J&K, Bhutan and Nepal. However, China is already meddling in our affairs in these areas and beyond in our innards.  The degree of nuisance can go up only by a notch. On the other hand the relative instability increase in China – spatially and temporally will be extensive. The second aspect is legal. There is an Indian opinion that raking up Tibet will tantamount to nullifying  the 2003 agreement and it will lead to Sikkim not being recognised as a part of India by China. Well. For China, the 2003 agreement has no value like all  other agreements. That explains  the  aggression in Eastern Ladakh.   When we recognised Tibet as part of China there was no South Tibet claim. Their claim on Arunachal Pradesh started after that. In doing so, the 2003 agreement stands violated as it is. Also Mao’s palm and finger theory, which is actively propagated and discussed now (surely by the Chinese propaganda machinery) suggests that China wants Sikkim, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh one way or the other: The 2003 understanding be damned. Hence it is perfectly legal to rake up Tibet as not part of China. Once that step is taken, the rest will follow and options open up. The political decision is first. In my opinion it is inevitable. How to incrementally play it up and the methodologies to be adopted are a matter of detail. 

Inner Mongolia: Restiveness in Inner Mongolia is a recent phenomenon. China is actively  suppressing native languages and culture in ethnic Mongolian regions of China and trying to destroy Mongolian culture. Its new education policy envisages replacement of the Mongolian language with Mandarin as the medium of instruction in schools. Mongolian will be relegated to just a language subject. Huge  protests erupted in Inner Mongolia against this with thousands of students and their parents undertaking a region-wide civil disobedience campaign. Heavy deployment of PLA was resorted to. This sentiment found resonance in Ulan Bator too. Secondly, Mongolians resist conscription and do not want to join the PLA. This view has not surfaced officially. It very clearly indicates that Mongolians and other minorities do not identify themselves as Chinese nationals at the core. So, is there a movement for a larger Mongolian region on the cards in future? Worth exploring.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong and democratic protests are publicised enough and well known. China has politically subverted democracy and usurped Hong Kong when the world was busy fighting the Wuhan Virus. Prising Hong Kong out of China’s grip is well-nigh impossible now. However, it can be made the symbol of Chinese oppression and a testimony of Chinese scant regard to an international rules based order. It will be very useful in Lawfare against China.

THE WAY FORWARD

International Action: While the instabilities are known, the question is how to keep China busy with these instabilities? First and foremost there has to be intent. The recognition that China is going to be an international nuisance has dawned. The intent to stop it from being so will have to crystallise and signalled. It has to be done collectively. USA, EU, India, UK, Japan and Australia will have to come together in some forum to execute the intent. Can Quad be the base for this? Worth considering. Secondly, all five instabilities are different and need a different approach but have to be tackled  simultaneously in a sustained manner outside the UN fold. A subverted UN is incapable of any action against China. Then there is the old adage that a strength is often a weakness. Hence China’s economy will have to be leveraged and used against it. For example, despite China embarking on a Dual Circulation plan, its exports will have to be increasingly curtailed incrementally. Alternately imports from China need reduction on a time bound basis. Linking  Chinese sourcing to these instability areas and blocking them will send a strong signal. The  BRI must be turned into a bleeding white elephant. Overall, China must enter an overstretch. Next. It is now established that China will hereafter be perpetually short of two essentials—food and energy. Leverage them. There are methods to do so. Weaponise religion if push comes to shove. There are many other options which have been already discussed and many more will emerge.    

Indian Response: Ideally, all actions to make China look inwards should be done on a collective basis since it is not within one country to handle all the issues. If collective international action is not contemplated India has two choices. Go alone or with the US. Why the US? India and the US have the maximum stake and ability in making China look inwards. If it is not possible with the US then be prepared to go alone. In all cases, India will have to seriously think on these issues and come out with a plan of its own sooner or later. In my opinion, sooner the better otherwise we will be only reactive. Also as we delay the issue and procrastinate, Pakistan and China will continue to ramp up the whole business collusively. It is in their common interest to sort out India. By itself India has terrific leverages in Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan. We need to have the political will to tread this path. Either way it will be forced on us. It is a matter of time.

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on www.gunnersshot.com.

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Defence

‘ARMY CAN MEET ANY CHALLENGE TO SAFEGUARD COUNTRY’

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The Army is fully prepared to meet any challenge like the use of drones and social media by adversaries to safeguard the country, said Commandant of Chennai-based Officers Training Academy (OTA) Lieutenant General M K Das. Lt Gen Das, who is also the colonel of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment, said the situation in J&K is getting better with the Army and other security agencies working together to stamp out terrorism. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the maiden attestation parade of 460 new recruits of the 126th batch after a successful 40-week training period at Dansal here, he said the Indian Army is aware of the challenges and prepared to give a befitting response to the enemies of the nation.

Talking about the need to introduce special training courses for soldiers in the aftermath of the developments in Afghanistan, he said, “Our training is very contemporary as it caters for all the contingencies and unforeseen situations. My young soldiers, who have taken the oath to defend the constitution and the country, will live up to all the challenges. One of the unique things of this regiment (JAKLI) is all our troops hail from J&K and Ladakh. They have ingrained quality to be security conscious much more than others.” Lt Gen Das said, “All the situations unfolding in the country or in our neighbourhood, the JAKLI regiment will continue to excel and be the lead agency in the fight against terrorism.” Asked about the challenges posed by the use of drones to hit targets and deliver weapons and narcotics from across the LoC and International Border, he said a capsule course on anti-drone measures has been introduced. “On Army Day on 15 January, our chief took the threat seriously and our soldiers are being prepared to deal with the challenge in a better way.” During recruitment training, Lt Gen Das said that besides the arms handing and exercises, thrust is also given on science and technology, cybersecurity and other new challenges. He said the misuse of social media by “anti-national” elements is a reality and the new recruits are being trained in cybersecurity during their basic and orientation courses.

On attempts by Pakistan to mislead the youth of J&K, Lt Gen Das said, “The youth of J&K is showing keenness to be a part of the regiment which is a message to those who think they can mislead our youth. Joining the regiment is the best way to serve the nation, the youth live like a family and there is complete communal harmony.” He said the regiment is increasing the number of local youth from Ladakh and would also go for recruitment in J&K to provide an opportunity to the local youth to become part of this regiment. Asked about his message to the misguided youth, he said, “J&K is the crown of India but if I focus as a soldier, I feel they (misguided youth) have not understood their country… the situation has not gone out of hand and the Army has kept its window open to allow them to surrender and join the national mainstream.”

He added, “We have a unit of 162 Infantry Territorial Army who are former militants but have become upright soldiers.” Lt Gen Das said the Army and other security agencies are working in close coordination and the situation in J&K is getting better and the “day is not far when this region will make our country proud.”

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Defence

SOUTHERN NAVAL COMMAND OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP DAY IN KOCHI

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The Southern Naval Command observed International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday with a focus on mangrove plantation and clearance of plastic/non-biodegradable waste along with waterfront areas in and around Kochi, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

Pursuant to the global campaign of keeping coastlines clean, more than 600 Naval personnel and the families of Southern Naval Command undertook clearance of plastic and non-biodegradable waste at different locations spread across the city, coastal areas such as Fort Kochi beach, Thevara waterfront, Willingdon Island, Cherai beach, Bolgatty and around 2 km stretch of the Venduruthy channel while restoring around 1 lakh sqm of mangroves to the pristine condition. In addition, 80 mangrove saplings were also planted along the Venduruthy channel. Similar coastal cleanup drives and lectures/webinars/competitions emphasising protection of the coastal and marine environment were undertaken with the enthusiastic participation of the Naval community at other outstation Naval units located at Lonavala, Jamnagar, Chilka, Coimbatore, Goa, Ezhimala and Mumbai.

Being the Training Command of the Indian Navy, the Southern Naval Command has always been at the vanguard in promoting environmental conservation activities both at the Command Headquarters, Kochi as well as at Naval stations spread across the country.

Mandated to oversee naval training, the Southern Naval Command has conceptualised and implemented a variety of green initiatives. Keeping environmental preservation as one of the Key Result Areas, the Command has constantly endeavoured to motivate young officer and sailor trainees of the Indian Navy to imbibe the habit of protecting mother nature as part of their grooming efforts in preparing them to become responsible future Naval leaders and dependable citizens of India.

Particular attention has also been given to create more awareness among the families and more importantly the children.

During the last three years, the Command has adopted a multi-dimensional approach towards conservation of the environment and implementation of energy conservation methods.

To highlight a few, the personnel of the Command were actively involved in the rejuvenation of 4.5-km-long Venduruthy Channel near Kochi Naval base, creating awareness in and around Naval establishments.

Efforts were undertaken to enhance green cover by conducting mass plantation drives which included planting more than 75,000 trees, using the fast-growing Miyawaki forestation method. In addition, regular coastal clean-up drives, mangrove plantation drives, in-house handling and recycling of bio and non-biodegradable waste, adopting efficient energy and water-saving methods etc were also undertaken. The Command has also earnestly endeavoured to continue all the efforts for protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. Towards achieving the same, the Command has implemented a Green Initiative and Environment Conservation Roadmap with a prime focus on Carbon footprint reduction.

With the personal involvement of Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command is committed to creating a clean, green and healthy environment in line with the visionary environment conservation policies of the Govt of India. On the occasion, Adv M Anilkumar, Mayor, Kochi Municipal Corporation and staff also participated in Kochi.

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IAF TO HOLD AIR SHOW OVER DAL LAKE IN SRINAGAR ON 26 SEPT

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An air show will be held here on 26 September where IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga and Suryakiran Aerobatic and Display Team and paramotor flying will manoeuvre the skies over the famous Dal Lake, officials informed on Saturday.

The air show will be organised by the Air Force Station Srinagar and the Jammu and Kashmir administration as part of the ongoing celebrations commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, they said. The main aim of the exercise—under the theme ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’—is to motivate the youth of the valley to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to promote tourism in the region, the officials said.

The event will be flagged off Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking Dal Lake.

More than 3,000 college and school students are expected to participate in the programme to witness the impressive manoeuvres of the IAF, which will motivate them to dream about a career in the force and in the aviation sector, the officials said. “The show will also develop passion among the students to give wings to their dreams. Along with the students, 700 teachers will also be present at the venue,” they added.

During the demonstration, students will also be familiarised with the new technological advancements achieved and incorporated by the IAF while flying aircraft in the sky over the world-famous Dal Lake, the officials said. Stalls will be established at SKICC where students will be familiarised with the achievements of the Air Force, employment opportunities in the IAF, recruitment rules and eligibility criteria, they added.

Srinagar-based PRO Defence Col Emron Musavi said the display will include flypast by various aircraft of the IAF. The spectators would also get to witness paramotor flying and IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga in action. ‘Ambassadors of IAF’, Suryakiran Aerobatic Display Team, will be performing in the valley after a gap of 14 years, he said. Col Musavi said the symphony orchestra of the IAF would also be performing at the event. The event would also consist of a photo exhibition depicting the history of the

IAF, he said. 

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ARMY ORGANISES EXHIBITION IN JAIPUR TO COMMEMORATE INDIA’S VICTORY IN 1971 WAR

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JAIPUR : South Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday organised an exhibition showcasing defence equipment at Chitrakoot Stadium in Jaipur to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

Speaking to ANI, an Indian army official said, “We have displayed the defence equipment in this exhibition to make people aware of the Indian army achievements. We want to motivate the youth by showcasing these types of equipment.” “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these events had been started to make people aware of Indian Arm Forces. So, we are also continuing the move by organising these kinds of events,” he added.

Further, he said that India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war is memorable for all the Indians, so, every citizen should be aware of this war.  

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BRO makes history, appoints woman Army officer in-charge of road construction unit

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The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has appointed a woman Army officer for the first as the Officer Commanding of its 75 road construction company (RCC) in Uttarakhand, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

The three platoon commanders under Major Aaina, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K became the first women RCC. The appointments were made on August 30.

BRO on Sunday recalled the list of women officers who were assigned higher leadership roles in the organisation in the current year.

According to a statement issued by the Defence Ministry, BRO has inducted a large number of women into its workforce over the years, right from officers to the level of commercial pilot license holders. “In this regard, a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) officer EE (Civ) Vaishali S Hiwase took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company on April 28, employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam, in an area full of adversity and challenges. The lady officer has taken control and is leading the charge with meticulous execution of her tasks,” the statement said.

“The BRO created history again on 30 August when Major Aaina of Project Shivalik took charged as Officer Commanding, 75 Road Construction Companies (RCC) at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. She is the first Indian Army Engineer Officer to command a road construction company. Not only this, all three platoon commanders under her, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K are lady officers and they have together created a first-ever women RCC. The Border Roads plans to make four such all women-led RCCs, two each in North Eastern and Western Sectors.”

As India celebrates 75 Years of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it also celebrates the ongoing efforts of our Nation towards women empowerment. Women today have started assuming their rightful, equal place as the frontrunners in nation-building and representatives of our strong national character, the statement read.

Over the last six decades, in a graduated and steady manner, the BRO has increased the number of women employed in various roles and duties of road construction. A consolidated effort is being made to empower them by giving them authority and responsibilities to undertake work independently. These women have become symbols of Nari Shakti in their respective areas.

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Defence

IN FIRST FOREIGN VISIT AFTER TAKING OVER AS CDS, GEN BIPIN RAWAT TO VISIT RUSSIA, US

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In his first visit abroad after taking over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat will be visiting Russia and the US.

Rawat took over his new office as CDS on 31 December 2019, and since then has been declining foreign invitations for focusing on the new assignment of integrating the defence forces as a combined fighting force. “There is a conference of the CDS-rank officers of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement member countries. China and Pakistan are also part of this grouping,” senior defence officials said.

The CDS conference would be focusing on addressing the regional security issues and Afghanistan is also likely to come up for discussion, they said.

The CDS would also witness the activities of the respective armed forces taking part in the SCO peace mission drills being held in Russia. Indian Army and Air Force are also taking part in the exercise there.

The visit will take place in the coming week and soon after return from Russia, Rawat would be leaving for the US for meeting his counterpart and other American military leadership at the Pentagon.

The two countries have been coming closer militarily in the last few years and have been holding multiple military exercises and hardware cooperation.

The Indian military saw a major change in senior-level structures under the Narendra Modi government as the focus is now on the theatrisation of the fighting forces and bringing in more capabilities and jointness among the three services. 

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