Abhijit Bhattacharyya | Amid global conflicts, don’t let China’s CPC target India

The Asian Age.  | Abhijit Bhattacharyya

Opinion, Columnists

Global Military Dynamics: Examining Five Active Combat Commands and Economic Warfare Strategies

In this photo provided Tuesday, March 12, 2024, by the Iranian Army, an Iranian military boat patrols as a warship enters the Iranian waters prior to start of a joint naval drill of Iran, Russia and China in the Indian Ocean. Iran has stepped up its military cooperation with Beijing and Moscow in response to regional tensions with the United States, including by supplying military drones to Russia before the European nation invaded Ukraine in 2022. AP/PTI

Five full-fledged active combat “theatre commands” (let’s call it command for brevity) are on self-propelled missions. The first is in Eastern Europe. Born out of the acute Russian fear of an eastern expansion of Nato by the United States and the West, following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, threatening Moscow’s underbelly, the two-year-long ongoing conflict has created yet another European proxy war against Europe. Despite their latent fears of Russian expansionism, the largely affluent nations of Western Europe are hesitant to take any steps that might jeopardise their living standards. Ukraine, unfortunately, got into a Western geopolitical cobweb and allowed itself to become a pawn, inviting the wrath of Russia, still smarting over loss of the erstwhile Soviet Union’s vast landmass.

The second is in the Middle East. The newly-created Israel “counter-assault command” of Gaza has as its sole aim the wholesale eradication of Hamas terrorist group (also posing a threat to Gaza’s entire populace) in revenge over the unprovoked attack by terrorist group Hamas on the Jewish state on October 7 last year. This has also led to the entanglement of Iran and its offshoot militia, Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The third is the non-state Houthi militia, whose land-based “Shadow Sea Command” operates around the Red Sea and Arabian Sea to take on the mighty navies of the West for their alleged failure to restrain Israeli aggression in Gaza. The fourth is the “East Asia and Southeast Asia Sea Command”, targeting the western Pacific’s marine resources spots and the forward deployment of the Chinese PLA Navy to the Indian Ocean.

And the fifth is China’s “Geo-strategic and Geo-economic Command”, potentially the most destructive of all, with which it hopes to decimate India, the only nation which has the potential of challenging its dominance of Asia and the entire region.

The last one is arguably one of the most recklessly defiant, devious, deceptive and cunning arms of the Communist Party of China (CPC)-led “Combat Command”, to corner money and material and then build a monopoly market to sell its over-capacity manufactured products – electric vehicles (EVs), solar power apparatus and electronic communication systems -- besides the forced “land grabs”, which are a part of its DNA. In the eyes of the CPC’s overlord, President Xi Jinping, New Delhi is easily the weakest link in the entire global chain, but also one of the widest in its potential reach. For China, the added advantage is that India also shares a long land border with the People’s Republic.

It is clear, therefore, that while the first two live “commands” have been created by the West; and non-state actors operate the third; the last two work under the reckless Red Guards of Beijing, whose aspirations know no bounds.

Regarding the first three combat “commands”, one can infer with some degree of conviction that the conflicts will have to end as they cannot be endless. But can that be said about the Chinese “commands”? Not yet, as the real danger is that the CPC is trying to take down its rivals without the use of weapons -- through psychological wars of attrition, economic destruction, commercial disruption, raw material degradation, monetary, banking and currency manipulation and irreversible damage to the industrial system. The objective? The capitulation of CPC’s “class enemy”.

That is the scenario India faces today. The nation is in the throes of the economic, rather than physical, annihilation programme initiated by the CPC, where the symptoms of capitulation appear more than ever before. New Delhi has miles to go to achieve the basics of the “greatest happiness for greatest numbers”, but it must draw lessons from affluent nations’ club, now trembling at the prospect of playing second fiddle in the economic arena to an upstart and aggressive CPC. From the US to Europe, Australia to Brazil, cheap Chinese goods are inundating world markets. Businessmen from all over are rushing to pick up low-cost, heavily-subsidised Chinese products to sell in their home markets, thus hurting their own nations’ economy. China’s propensity to monopolize raw material to finished goods to market-capture is leading to the World Trade Organisation’s inevitable redundancy. “One world, one market, one system” will be a farce before the Chinese destruction.

It is high time for New Delhi to watch how the West has gone into a spin like a headless chicken and to avoid falling into the same trap. In March 2024, 75 per cent of respondents in a London Telegraph poll felt that “we either stand up to China or be ruled by them”; and it’s time “to boycott Chinese goods”. Virtually all of their business had been ruined by the unrestricted entry of cheap Chinese goods, as is happening in India too due to the unbridled greed of a section of unscrupulous traders to work through third countries to get around Indian laws. In mid-April, the UK Telegraph again warned: “China an insidious threat as not even British stamps are safe”. It explained: “Chinese factories are printing counterfeit stamps in Shanghai, Shenzhen Quanzhou… robbing British businesses of revenue and undermining consumer confidence… (and) the reliability of Royal Mail”.

After a recent four-day visit to China, US treasury secretary Janet Yellen declared: “US will not accept new industries being decimated by cheap Chinese imports” and “US will push China to change policy threatening US jobs”. These are desperate calls, but it’s unlikely that China will oblige the US or any other country, including the EU and India. It has just too much at stake.

China’s commerce minister had pooh-poohed Western allegations about Beijing industrial overcapacity in EVs as “innovation, not subsidy”. Amidst this global turbulence, Tesla boss Elon Musk proposed India for production of EVs, and was due to visit India on April 21-22, when he had planned to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This was called-off at the last minute, citing his “very heavy Tesla obligations”. India needs to exercise circumspection, especially after the Chinese experience of underpriced, sub-standard consumer goods destroying Indian industry, making New Delhi helplessly China-dependent for raw material and finished goods, inflicting a colossal trade deficit and outflow of foreign exchange.

Tesla has been comprehensively beaten by Chinese EVs. Elon Musk just sacked 10 per cent of his 1,40,000 EV staff as its high price and high maintenance costs led to poor sales. This is why Mr Musk is now eyeing the Indian market. But we must remember India already has huge non-electric vehicle production capacity employing millions. Tesla must not be allowed to damage Indian industry and increase unemployment just as American industry was decimated by the CPC, which was once a US protégé.