Deng Xiao Peng, the architect of modern China, speaking at the special session of the United Nations on 10th April 1974, said: “China is a socialist country, and a developing country as well. China belongs to the Third World. Consistently following Chairman Mao’s teachings, the Chinese Government and people firmly support all oppressed peoples and oppressed nations in their struggle to win or defend national independence, develop the national economy and oppose colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism. This is our bounden internationalist duty. China is not a superpower, nor will she ever seek to be one. What is a superpower? A superpower is an imperialist country which everywhere subjects other countries to its aggression, interference, control, subversion or plunder and strives for world hegemony. If capitalism is restored in a big socialist country, it will inevitably become a superpower. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which has been carried out in China in recent years, and the campaign of criticizing Lin Piao and Confucius now under way throughout China, are both aimed at preventing capitalist restoration and ensuring that socialist China will never change her colour and will always stand by the oppressed peoples and oppressed nations. If one day China should change her colour and turn into a superpower, if she too should play the tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as social-imperialism, expose it, oppose it and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it”.
These are important words by Deng Xiao Peng to think about, given the positioning China in the world today.
President Xi Jinping, who has positioned himself in the same exalted status as Chairman Mao and Deng Xiao Peng, should be a worried leader and under serious pressure.
His traditional play book strategies are not working. The world leaders are not bowing down to his pressure tactics. World’s citizens are willing to shun the Chinese products like never before. The carefully crafted image of the man and his machines is beginning to tarnish rapidly. China is left with their all-weather ally Pakistan and North Korea, both of whom will do as their master instructs.
Over the past year, there have been a series of challenges faced by the Chinese economy.
1. Wuhan Virus (Kung Flu as per President Trump), that has created devastation in the world. No one knows how many people have died in China.
2. The Chinese economy is in trouble partly because of the shut down and partly because of the anti-China sentiment among buyers around the world.
3. Challenges within the CCP, especially after Xi’s “President for Life” amendment of their “constitution.”
The other significant piece of the equation is Xi’s dream project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is the cornerstone of his policy of economic colonisation using debt as a major tool. Almost every country that signed up with China for the BRI has now found out that there is nothing in it for them. China’s cheque book diplomacy is facing serious resistance.
One major section of the BRI goes through Balochistan (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor–CPEC), which is in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The rebels in Balochistan will do whatever it takes to ensure that this CPEC project is not completed. This will hurt both China and Pakistan.
The most well accepted form of diverting attention, from time immemorial, is to start a war / create trouble with neighbours to draw attention away from internal problems, in the hope that nationalistic feelings will divert the attention of citizens. This is what we see to be happening with all 14 countries that have borders with China or with those that share international waters with China. From Bhutan (for an animal reserve) to Russia (for the entire Vladivostok region), from Mongolia to Japan, from Australia to Myanmar. China has reopened old issues everywhere.
All countries, affected by China, are now speaking up. South East Asian countries too, that have traditionally kept quiet, have now spoken up against China for the South China Seas.
India has had a long-standing dispute with China on our 3488 km long border. The British had defined a border between India and Tibet in 1914 called the “McMahon Line” which is called the Line of Actual Control (LAC). After annexing Tibet, China refused to recognise this agreement. Therefore, China keeps claiming various parts of India including the entire North East of India (7 states of India) as its own.
In the past, Indian politicians supported by their able bureaucrats, for various reasons, did not challenge China but preferred to “let things lie” in the hope that somehow, good sense would prevail. They knew that China was incorrigible, but it is always easier to sweep uncomfortable situations under the carpet. This led to large land areas of India being taken over by China and now claimed as their own. India has supported Hong Kong and Taiwan at the UN and is asking for an investigation into the cause of the virus. It should be a matter of time before India raises the matter of the autonomy of Tibet.
With the recent clash on June 15, 2020 in the Galwan Valley, the Chinese had thought that they would keep “creeping” towards India like they had done in the past. Under PM Narendra Modi, this was not only stopped but rebuffed as well. While 20 Indian soldiers were killed, I have heard senior officials that over 75 Chinese soldiers were killed by an enraged India Army who sought retribution after they saw their Commanding Officer killed. Stories of one Sikh soldier killing 12 people with his “kirpan” before being martyred are doing the rounds. This is how myths are born, and rightly so.
The Chinese are not used to being pushed back.
They have survived with their self-created myth of being the world’s largest and most powerful Army. Can an Army, which is probably being run by the power of the gun and Communist ideology battle against the world’s best trained Indian Army who treat their land as their mother and are willing to happily sacrifice their lives to defend it?
In the past, our politicians had tied the hands of the Indian Army behind their backs. Prime Minister Modi has given freedom to the Army to respond as they deem fit. Mr Modi’s comment in Ladakh, that India knows how to play Lord Krishna’s flute and knows how to use His Sudarshan Chakra clearly indicates the complete change in India’s foreign policy vis-à-vis China. Not only do we know how to make an aggressor dance to our tune, we also know how to use the deadliest weapons to protect ourselves.
It is interesting to see how most countries have come out in support of India. France has also offered to send their ground troops to support India! Russia is expediting the delivery of 21 MIG-29 and 12 Sukhoi aircraft as well as the world’s most advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. USA has positioned 3 aircraft carriers in the waters around India to Japan and is expediting the dispatch of helicopters on priority.
Opening up so many flanks at the same time is either a well-crafted strategy of President Xi Jinping or this could be regional satraps within China starting to flex their muscles independently. If the latter, then the world needs to worry. Whether this would lead to the balkanisation of China, similar to USSR is anybody’s guess?
Are the days of President Xi numbered? Will he be given a face saving exit? Is there another group of ambitious and aggressive young leaders within the party who are plotting to claim the “Dragon Throne”, to give a different direction to the country?
Is it time for the leadership of China to go back to the prophetic words of Deng Xiao Peng and learn to live with the World instead of trying to control it?
Only time will tell.