New Delhi: After its theatrics and antics in Ladakh, and then strategically ‘pulling back troops’, Beijing’s next move may well be to force Islamabad to help complete the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and enable the easy flow of cheap Gulfs oil via Gwader port, which alone can prevent the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from following the Soviet Union.
If media reports are correct, China may, like the then Soviet Union, disintegrate and Balkanized into as many as seven independent countries. Power-struggle in an already intensely faction-ridden Communist Party may peak soon; Beijing may find it impossible to handle so many foreign and domestic policy challenges cropping up simultaneously, from within and without.
In the 1990s, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had allowed only glasnost (openness) without perestroika (reconstruction); Chinese President Xi Jinping reversed this order and allowed only reconstruction, not openness. Both these leaders failed to notice that the two were symbiotic and one could not exist without the other.
Gorbachev was, therefore, forced to watch the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991; Jinping may well become China’s Gorbachev! Apparently, the Chinese President is aware of the huge challenges he may face sooner rather than later, what with his enemies in the CPC regrouping to challenge his failing leadership in which Hong Kong, Taiwan, COVID-19, and collapsing economy have all emerged as a chain of sudden crises. With the export-based economy collapsing, he will have to increase domestic consumption, for which China will have to increase pay-packets in the midst of reduced demand, a herculean task.
A buffeted Jinping has only one way out: he must showcase a successful CPEC as his crowning glory to silence his potential detractors.
For this, Jinping must buy peace, even if temporary, on the Sino-Indian borders in Ladakh to push in the CPEC through Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which India now aspires to retake. Business through the CPEC could strengthen his credentials as a ‘global leader’. But he cannot complete the CPEC without controlling Pakistan’s restive Baluchistan Province which has been protesting against the hand-over of Gwader Port to Beijing. Some Chinese officials were also killed in 2019, putting brakes on the ambitious project, part of Border and Road Initiative (BRI), a much larger project.
It was with this aim that China decided to put up a show in Ladakh, not actually targeting a powerful India but as an indirect threat to Pakistan to follow ‘orders’ from Beijing. Broke, terror-infested and pulverized due to multi-organ failure, a highly vulnerable Islamabad may soon surrender to China. If that happens, Pakistan, already a satellite, could even become a part of China! This is the same way Afghanistan had surrendered to the USSR in the 1980s.
The anti-Jinping faction of the CPC is suspected of helping the pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong agitators. This faction was earlier led by Zhao Ziang, former General Secretary of CPC. He was in charge of the CPC’s political reforms in China since 1986 but lost power in 1989 after he supported the Tiananmen Square protests of students. Xi Jinping is now being challenged by his adversary’s ghost!
That Ladakh would merely be Doklam-II rhetoric was anticipated. Suspected of masterminding the global pandemic of COVID-19 and trying to restructure the world order its own way on the corpses of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, more than 190 countries have turned against China so far. Beijing is now the New Evil Empire, whose only ‘all-weather-friends” are the two rogue states, Pakistan and North Korea.
This explains the first signs of de-escalation of tension along China’s Line of Actual Control (LAC), from where Indian and Chinese soldiers moved back after a standoff. China may compensate for the Galwan losses at Gwader port.
Having learnt her lesson in 1962, India is now far more vigilant, strong and has refused to play the Chinese’ Checkers. The Government of India did not issue any official statement on Tuesday, but said: “We note the developments along the LAC, and will be monitoring them closely in the next few days.” The deployment of troops took place over the last one month and it will take them time to step back in a phased manner.
“The Indian Army is fully prepared for a long and permanent deployment if the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China does not retreat”, said top sources.
Even China knows that, despite its psychological warfare via Global Times and CCTV, and direct and indirect threats, the fact remains that the Chinese Army is not really fit for the long haul in case of a real conflict. They might be more in numbers and deployment but they are far from acclimatized to battle it out in an alien territory full of snow and rugged roads. In 1967, they lost to India along the Sikkim borders; in July 2015, the Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF), deployed by the UN in Sudan, shielded Chinese troops from domestic rebels.
Clearly, China would be foolish if it got a bloody nose on Indian territory. What was, then, its purpose of a build-up in Ladakh.
Wasn’t was actually targeting Pakistan, not India!