With a raging border conflict with India, a cold war with the US that has resulted in sanctions and trade conflict and deteriorating ties with the UK and Australia, China has earned a global condemnation for its hostile policies.
The disengagement process with India after the violent clash on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is underway. However, looking at the ongoing pace, experts believe that it is going to be a long road until both countries reach a point of total disengagement.
The violent stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers at Galwan valley, according to experts, was not a coincidence but a pre-planned move by China. Separate reports by US and Indian security agencies reveal that China made a lot of preparations before infiltrating Finger 4 to Galwan and Hot Spring areas.
According to experts talking to EurAsian Times who did not wish to be named, China could have planned the Ladakh border clash right after the Doklam conflict between Indian and Chinese soldiers. India, at that time, was at an advantage (in Doklam) but Beijing opted to retaliate in areas where it could hold better positions. China was certainly taken aback by the Indian position and felt a little embarrassed which dented tough image.
The military option is of least importance, in view of China’s size and might, but still vital to outstare the enemy. The appearance (not actual use) of India’s military might is vital to eventually restore status quo ante since the so-called buffer zones are on the Indian side of the LAC, wrote Abhishek Singhvi, Member of Parliament and former Additional Solicitor General of India.
He further suggested steps that can be taken by India to raise the ante. According to him, the defence budget should be enhanced up to 3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is currently below 1.5 percent.
The Mountain Strike Corps should be enhanced and accelerate the completion of Darbuk-Shyok-DBO road while building others on northern and Arunachal Pradesh. He also suggested increased military exercises with “big powers” like the US and upgradation of defence arsenal including drones and UAV’.
Unlike Xi Jinping’s approach, the Chinese leadership has previously followed Deng Xiaoping’s tao guang yang hui strategy that signifies a moderate external policy of “hiding claws”.
On the other hand, “Xi wants more obedient and subservient clients, not independent partners,” wrote Vinay Kaura, Assistant professor, Sardar Patel University of Police, Security and Criminal Justice, Rajasthan.
He further added that the nature of China’s strategic culture and Jinping’s leadership has already complicated all efforts at finding equilibrium in China-India relations. He suggested that India should rebalance its priorities to ensure its own interests are always taken care of first and foremost.
Chinese hostility is evident with not just global powers and neighbours but towards Tibet and Taiwan which has been threatened by the state.
“India and Taiwan must have full diplomatic relations and Taiwanese companies must be wooed qua import substitution. Parliamentary alliances such as Friends of Tibet or of Uighurs must be allowed free play,” said Singhvi with reference to empowering India’s position with China.
He further suggested that India should maintain cooperation with Russia and use its position. “I deprecate India’s unfortunate dilution of its close ties with its oldest all-weather ally, Russia.
The latter has to be immediately reassured that closer Indo-US relations do not affect our deep bond with Russia,” he explained. “Countering the latter’s newfound closeness to China and worse, even to Pakistan, should be the government’s top priority.”
He concluded by saying that India shouldn’t hesitate to turn to economic options by terminating Chinese investments as the Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) have clear derogation clauses allowing invocation of the Essential Security Interest (ESI) exception.
“China is a controlled economy, with land frequently being free with heavy subsidies built-in, India must use anti-dumping levies much more along with a judiciously-crafted and targeted mix of import substitution, discriminatory tariffs, steep duties, and bans in certain areas.”