Understanding Our Neighbours
Aravind Yelery, Shanghai
Chinese civilisation has evolved through the cycles of chaos and political restorations. The political conflicts were certain as a number of clans, feudal lords and ethnic groups shifted their political apriorities for controlling the land. The arid land in the West, attached to the Central Asia brought some of the ferocious attacks from central Asian nomadic tribes, whereas the plains and green plateau of Mongolia and beyond were the place for Xiongnu and Huns, who challenged the authority of Chinese states. This was the fundamental reason behind constructing the Great Wall, the name originated when the parts of these different protective walls were joined by Qin emperor. The walled fortification and their sheer size made them Great Wall of China. The secured boundaries against the intruders were seen essential to establish authority as well as ensure the integrity and peace within the walled terrain. The so called military science was yet to take the central place in Chinese imperial courts.
The construction of the Great Wall started well before the birth of a Chinese Chanakya-alike historical entity, Sun Tzi. Wu Sun was the real name of Sun Tzi. He was an ancient Chinese strategist and philosopher who lived around 544–496 BC. ‘Tziwas’ a title meaning master was graciously given to several Chinese thinkers and philosophers, including Confucius and Mencious. Sun belonged to a learned family which did not have feudal background. The warring state of affairs worked well to condition Sun’s thoughts on warfare and mainly its strategic aspects. The amount of experience he collected as a military general helped him when he was on the height of his prominence during warring states period (476-221 BC). These thoughts were practical and gave Chinese fighting states a rational to build strong armies and planning of warfare. There is no doubt that Sun Tzi was responsible for grooming Chinese strategic brain. Although he fought wars for the Wu kingdom, his techniques were largely adopted by almost all the dynasties followed in the later millennia. As Confucius is credited for analyzing the social order more from the state centric approach, Sun Tzi imbibed Chinese minds with his breathtaking accounts of war tactics. Chinese society carried this wisdom of altruism and nationalism together.
Sun Tzi’s The Art of Warfare consists of 13 chapters. Although, like some ancient texts, this military piece also gets repetitive on many occasions but the fundamental thoughts on military science are clearly established. It elaborates on various warfare techniques in general and asymmetric warfare and C3I (command,control, communications,and intelligence) in specific, these are the terms which strategists fondly use in present contexts. These are some quotes;
1) All warfare is based on deception.
2) Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.
3) If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
4) To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.
(To be concluded)
(The writer is a Corporate Consultant Sanghai ji Ou, Sanghai/Delhi)