– Have we understood China well? We should not try to understand it from its overt actions. We must understand the covert intentions behind those actions.
– We are a romantic and idealist people. But China is different.
– This book talks about the bloodless decades on Indo-China border. But those decades were bloodless because China had deployed the strategy of “winning the war without waging any battles”. It continued with nibbling away of our territory without ever firing a single bullet.
– Speakers before me talked about how several leaders had made agreements with China, but it violated every such agreement. We must understand that deception is integral to China’s strategy.
– Sun Tzu’s Art of War, a treatise credited with war strategy that the Chinese leadership follows assiduously, makes the statement that the “art of war is an art in deception”.
– There was a reference to China’s claims over Arunachal Pradesh. That is also another tactic of China. It has a formulation; “What I occupy is mine; what I claim is to be negotiated”.
– We inadvertently walk into that trap. We already forgot about Aksai Chin and talk only about peace along the so-called LAC. China cleverly drags us into another claimed area like Arunachal.
– Speakers before me also talked about how China is operating over different fronts. It is building dams, strengthening cyber potential, developing border infrastructure etc. But that is also a part of its strategy.
– While we glorify the example of an Arjuna single-mindedly focusing on the eye of the bird sitting on the branch of a tree, the Chinese believe in the Sun Tzuvian dictum of attacking five different targets simultaneously to achieve a single objective.
– So they do different things to overawe you, including actively engaging with you.
– How to tackle such an adversary which believes in deception, aggression and expansion?
– Firstly, remember that you are dealing with a country that thinks differently. China believes itself to be the “Middle Kingdom” with the heavens above and the rest of the world below. A sense of superiority pervades its thinking. It can never accept any other country as its equal.
– Secondly, don’t limit to diplomatic engagement alone for solving problems. Proactive diplomacy is important. We have been doing it all these decades. Whenever China violated our borders, we registered our strong protests diplomatically. But that won’t really make any impact on Chinese behaviour.
– What is needed is a strong ground posturing also. Government of Modi has shown the way.
– The last time that we demonstrated strength on the ground before Modi came to power was in 1986-87 at Sumdorang Chu Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. Gen. Sundarji, the then Army Chief was credited with lifting battalions to the border with or without the consent of the the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. They stayed there eyeball-to-eyeball with the Chinese army for several years.
– The next time we did it was at Doklam in 2017 and Ladakh in the last couple of years. “Proactive diplomacy, together with strong ground posturing” has been our approach now and a credible one against China.
– Thirdly, and most importantly, don’t be in a hurry. We made several agreements in a hurry hoping to resolve the dispute. But ended up facing a bigger China challenge.
– Hence the thinking that ‘I should somehow find a solution in my lifetime’ may not work with China. Be prepared for a long haul, because, in China, we are facing not just another nation but a civilisation with a totally different thinking on Sun Tzu’s lines.
– Solution may come but who knows under whom! Dispute of decades between Soviet Russia and China couldn’t be resolved by any Soviet leader in his lifetime. But Boris Yeltsin, the President of Russia, known more for his drinking habits than governance, was the one who resolved it.
– So an opportune moment will come for resolving the China dispute finally. But, until then, we need to deal with that country by understanding its civilisational characteristic well.