A Historic Perspective of Chinese Strategy

Kashmir is reeling under terrorism. Terrorism had raised its ugly head in Punjab demanding Kalisthan. Insurgency is still rampant in the northeast. China is consolidating her iron grip on Tibet. Communist parties routed for China during the war of 1962. China is emerging as the leading economy in the world. Vietnam, Myanmar and North Korea are all but satellite nations to China. Nepal has gone Maoist. Sri Lanka is leaning towards China under Rajapakse. Chinese is censoring internet content. Pakistan has tested nuclear weapons strongly suspected to have been built with Chinese help. Chinese are strengthening naval presence in India Ocean. Are these all just unrelated events or is there a pattern?

While we are pondering, let us go back 1000 years in time to ancient China. It was a large country like that of the present age. It was ruled by a supreme emperor, who was supposed to be the representative of God on Earth. The kingdom was known as the middle empire, with the heaven above and rest of the world below it. Many of the kingdoms in South East Asia were vassal states paying tribute to the Chinese emperor. In fact that was the only kind of diplomatic relation the Chinese monarchy recognized. When European emissaries had first landed in the Chinese shores, the Chinese emperor had offered to accept the European countries as tributaries. The state was completely self sufficient and the only thing they required from any outside state was acceptance of Chinese sovereignty. But then this complacence had proved to be their undoing. Having had to not fight wars for many years, they failed to develop advanced military technology leading to their humiliation by the Europeans and later by Japan.

Let us now move on to another nation, another time. Consider communist Russia under Stalin 50 years back. They had formed the USSR absorbing all the small nations in the neighborhood and formed satellite nations of countries that could not be absorbed. Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, East Germany were all under the Russian hegemony. Communism as an ideal itself is hegemonic in nature. Marx had envisaged communism breaking all national barriers and uniting workers under a common banner. Of course Lenin and Mao had improvised it by adding ‘common banner under the ruling communist party’. Russia however failed in its attempt because it failed to build a strong economic base. Secondly it had not homogenized the country through ethnic cleansing and resettlement.

So now what do we have here. Current day China is not repeating the mistakes of imperial China. They have developed advanced military technology and are now one of the 5 elite nations having nuclear weapons. Nor have then repeated Russia’s mistake. They have kept the expansionist tendencies on the backburner and have been building a strong economic base. Now they are having one of the strongest economies in the world, what next?

Vietnam, North Korea, Myanmar are already more or less Chinese vassal states. Sri Lanka and Nepal are falling under its influence. China is having an increasing influence with the ASEAN countries. Now comes the roadblock– two troublesome nations to the west - India and Pakistan, both too big and ethnically and ideologically too different to absorb or convert into the Chinese’ commonwealth’. If you are getting where I am leading to, you might think I am crazy and paranoid. Frankly I myself thought so too till I read the below article.

It is a master stroke, isn’t it? Play Pakistan against India. Get Kashmir out. Then Punjab and Assam will follow. Then snatch Arunachal, Sikkim and rest of the north eastern states. Comrades will bring people’s republics of Bengal and Kerala to the fold. It would only be a matter of time before the rest of them come apart. Meanwhile Pakistan’s internal contradictions would pull it apart. So there we have around 30 odd small nations waiting to be harvested into the fold.

Now one may argue if this is the only way ahead for China. So let us consider the alternative. So far the people had willingly given over the decision taking authority to the communist party leaders to get the country back on its feet. Now country is an economic superpower. Isn’t it time people got their right to self determination and start enjoying life like their neighbors? Once democracy sweeps in, multiple parties will come. Tibetans, Manchurians and Uyghur will start demanding autonomy. Slowly the power of the communist party would begin to decline till they will be no better than their comrades in India. What a fall it would be, my friends? Would anyone ruling in their right mind want this to happen? Temporarily you can avert the disaster by screening the internet and not letting people see what people in other nations are upto. But in the long run, way to go is to motivate people and keep them going by raising the bar for national achievment. Having achieved economic supremacy, follow with political triumph and then world conquest to re-establish the middle kingdom. Isn’t freedom a small price to pay for such a lofty goal? Find below an article that reaches a similar conclusion http://news.rediff.com/report/2009/jul/12/nervous-china-may-attack-india-in-2012-defence-expert.htm

Am I missing something in my analysis or is India and the rest of the world just waiting for the much cherished goal of world peace to be established under the suzerainty of the Middle kingdom?

Related Post: The Aman Ki Asha Paradox


trappedintpv said...

Great perspective, Lka!

I think, the current role of China as an economic powerhouse (which is particularly accentuated during the current crisis) is making us over-estimate the Chinese.

Notwithstanding, China's role in the economic pullback, they failed to demonstrate what's an hallmark of an 'ideal' economy - and that is: resource allocation. China spent its money in only furthering existing economic trends, stockpiling commodities and in 'subsidies'. Hardly characteristic of a great 'economy'. China still has a long way to go.

Bhupesh Balakrishnan said...

Pragmatically speaking, "Chindia" will(have to) be the future to counterbalance the global geo-political relations. At the same time, as a Country, India should also keep a close vigil in its North-Eastern borders to stop infiltration and insurgency. Let's rather hope, Chindia will lead the World in the 21st Century for all goodness.

Diplomatic efforts should continue rather falling due to strained relations. 21st Century is where diplomacy will help win nation's trust and not wars.China has its cup full of issues-all India need to do is to keep a wait and respond strategy for China, barring few proactive moves to secure the borders adjoining both the nations.

Lets hope for good.

The Fool said...

@trappedintpv - But you have to admit they have done much better than the erstwhile USSR and they are in not position to collapse due to economic fallout

@Bhupesh - This talks of Chindia is what I fear. We keep assuming China to be a benevolent neighbor.I want to question that. Communism as a principle seeks to go beyond national boundaries and encompass the whole world. Right now China stands as the sole custodian of communism. And China in the past has been the most powerful kingdom. No reason why they will not want to recover that position. And see what all they have been doing - arming Pakistan for instance and their role in Myanmar, support to North Korea. All this definitely does not point to China opting to be a peaceful neighbor. So It is in India's interest to align with US and try to keep China is check.

Barun Mitra said...

China India comparison is the fashion of the day! But there is a great need to understand the social, political and economic context in both China and India. And so I am very glad that a lot of people in both India and China are discussing these issues.
Towards greater dialogue, I would like to invite you to China India Citizens' Initiative at (Http://ChinaIndiaCitizensInitiative.blogspot.com)
While some of my friends in China have difficulty in accessing blogs, at least a few of them are participating thro' emails.
Would like to hear from you.

trappedintpv said...


Snapwizard said...


You are overestimating Chinese prowess. Most of it is liquidity driven. They supply goods to US using artificially cheap currency and in return China buys depreciating US treasury bonds. When this game is up, China market will roll. India should be on sidelines in this game.

Anyway I see you are preparing for CAT. I challenge you to get more than 95% overall in Test-1 (the free one) at Snapwiz


Sreekar Saha said...

But who would be interested in such a lofty goal when many people cannot even pay for their food?And doesnt all this political wrangling have a heavy cost?

The Fool said...

I am not understanding what you are trying to say. People will will be willing to make sacrifices for emotive causes like establishing supremacy of their race. People are much more malleable when on war footing. So it is worth for leaders to keep people on war footing. Because in peace time people will question the leaders and they will start losing their grip.

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