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  Opinion   Columnists  26 Aug 2022  Abhijit Bhattacharyya | Time to join forces to take on Beijing’s ‘wolf warriors’

Abhijit Bhattacharyya | Time to join forces to take on Beijing’s ‘wolf warriors’

The writer is an alumnus of the National Defence College, and the author of China in India.
Published : Aug 27, 2022, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Aug 27, 2022, 12:00 am IST

Ambassador Sun Weidong only signalled the acute fear psychosis of his masters in Beijing, owing to transcontinental anti-China wave

China's Ambassador to India Sun Weidong. (Photo: Twitter)
 China's Ambassador to India Sun Weidong. (Photo: Twitter)

The overlords of Beijing — the ruling Communist Party of China and its military arm, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), along with its air force and naval wings — are well schooled in the art of using symbols and signage (as the Mandarin language provides) to further its deception both at home and in international diplomacy.

It was therefore no surprise that Beijing’s chief “wolf warrior” diplomat in charge of its New Delhi embassy, at the first media interaction after a two-year Covid-plagued gap, went into overdrive recently to reiterate that “Taiwan is Beijing’s internal question”, which he said was “very different” from the unresolved issues relating to the India-China border, better known as the Line of Actual Control.

In the process, ambassador Sun Weidong only signalled the acute fear psychosis of his masters in Beijing, particularly of his ultimate boss, President Xi Jinping, owing to the global turbulence and transcontinental anti-China wave. Beijing’s hitherto unstoppable diplomatic, commercial and industrial juggernaut has stumbled; unlike Lord Krishna’s victorious chariot deftly manoeuvring through webs of hostile citadels with ease.

Emperor Xi now knows he’s no longer in command of an invincible yellow chariot trampling upon the “barbarian” universe. US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent Taiwan visit poured cold water on a self-created illusion that has visibly rattled him. The Pied Piper regiments of Han panegyrists, spies, bullies and saboteurs, across continents, are seeking renewed ops. And India is right on top as a potential destination that can propel the demand-driven economics of the Chinese growth engine. But India is also the biggest hurdle for the Hans’ dream and desire of land-sea supremacy, cutting through South Asia. India’s noisy and chaotic, yet functional, democracy remains an eyesore for the CPC-PLA, despite its failed attempts to undercut India’s diversity from within.

Ever since the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine in February, six months ago, Xi is also facing unheard-of criticism from a nation that he thought was like Beijing’s vassal estate Pakistan. Thus, when Sheikh Hasina-led Bangladesh made an uncharacteristically critical comment in an interview with London’s Financial Times, the graceful lady truly kindled ideas for all those who feel subjugated by Beijing. Bangladesh’s finance minister Mustafa Kamal openly warned all developing countries to think twice before taking loans via China’s Belt and Road as global inflation and slow growth add to all-round strains. The Bangladeshi minister put it plainly: “Everybody is blaming China. China can’t disagree. It is their responsibility”. Gutsy Bangladesh, specifically handpicked by Beijing in the last 20 years for ambitious trans-continental projects, deserves to be appreciated and admired. It has clinically exposed the Dragon’s designs and threats with exceptional candour.

Bangladesh aside, even three small Baltic nations — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — are now irritants for the CPC-PLA as they openly resent the latter’s muscular policies. All seem to have learnt Sri Lanka’s economic disaster lesson caused by Chinese machinations. Taking exorbitant loans and ending up with bankruptcy, ultimately surrendering state assets to the foreign predator shows utter helplessness in protecting sovereignty and territorial integrity. Sri Lanka is a case study that shows how Xi has skilfully employed Sun Tzu’s precept: “The best way to subdue the enemy is to win without fighting”. That’s how the CPC-PLA managed to capture Hambantota port without war, fire or bloodshed.

Coming back to India, the CPC-PLA’s main target in South Asia, it is defiantly multiplying the sub-Himalayan front by specifically focusing on New Delhi’s sovereign assets, in a desperate bid to make it dependent on the Dragon. From raw material to capital and consumer goods; the seven-decade-old Chinese threat to India’s security and sovereignty is increasing so fast that the few who still feel that growing India-China trade, commerce and investment will nullify all negative forces are in for a terrible shock, that could be worse than the way Jawaharlal Nehru was betrayed in the 1960s and lamented his error after irreparable damage was done.

To take just one example of China’s diplomatic deception and deceit, see Beijing’s swift response after external affairs minister S. Jaishankar noted that an “Asian century will not be possible until India and China are on the same page”, with the Chinese spokesman reiterating its now-familiar hollow and false rhetoric: “We have far more common interests than differences”. All this in a bid to lure India away from its growing strategic alliance with the United States, which the CPC regards, perhaps correctly, as a long-term threat.

India must remember that “forward deployment” is the CPC-PLA’s forte. It has deployed hundreds of thousands of its citizens to target the West as well as India through theft and espionage — on land, sea, air and space, in cyberspace, commerce, economics and the military.

Topping it all, of course, is territorial acquisition for “forward deployment” posts. These range from Djibouti (Africa), Piraeus (Europe), Gwadar (Persian Gulf), Hambantota (South Asia gateway) to the Solomon Islands (Pacific Ocean).

In the context of India and China, therefore, here’s a question for Emperor Xi. Is an agreed boundary between the two Asian giants in the mutual interest or not? If not, the matter ends. But if yes, why has the CPC-PLA been on its land grab spree since the 1950s? Does the Middle Kingdom really think that attempts to gobble up Indian territory will leave bilateral relations unaffected, or allow them to become “normal”? Does it still think that it can carry on espionage, crime, theft and loot in this country after bankrupting India’s neighbourhood? If so, the Dragon’s “wolf warriors” are living in fool’s paradise. After over 70 years, how much longer will it take to arrive at a common “perception” of the boundary between the two nations?

Beijing needs to swiftly come up with a real plan of action to revert to the pre-May 2020 status quo in relation to captured Indian land. Showing off monetary muscle won’t work too long. Perhaps Delhi needs to take a few tips from its smaller neighbour to the east. Bangladesh has shown the way on how to take Beijing bully head on. While Colombo and Islamabad slumped before the CPC-PLA; from the spy vessel’s docking at Hambantota to the CPEC pressure on Pakistan’s hinterland, Dhaka stands tall, speak its mind loud and clear.

The CPC-PLA’s mischief in South Asia is unlikely to end anytime soon. India should not, therefore, expect anything other than hostility from the Middle Kingdom’s twenty-first century “wolf warriors”.

Tags: people’s liberation army, communist party of china, sun weidong, xi jinping