Taming the Dragon

Shankar Deb

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Make no mistake, the Chinese have already won, no matter what the outcome in Ladakh.

By mid February, the Chinese had already determined that there could be a global political backlash due to the Corona virus, and this together with the aggressive steps by Trump to decouple the US economy from China, would pose a very serious challenge to the Chinese hegemony in the Indo-Pacific. They knew that they were in a fight for their lives, particularly if Trump got re-elected. The only player who could take advantage of this situation, both economically and politically, would be India. So it became essential to knock India out of the game from the very beginning, so that we could not compete, even with a seriously wounded China.

The situation for the Chinese was so serious that they were willing to lose the goodwill of a generation of Indians, and also suffer Indian trade penalties. A serious and prolonged military threat to India in the Himalayas, was the answer they come up with.

  1. The Chinese had no illusions that the there would be stiff resistance to ingress, having faced the Indian response at Nathu La in 1967, and more recently in Doklam in 2017. Even though the Chinese troop buildup was clearly known to us from early March 2020, that they would be able to fool us about their true tactics, was a bonus . Their strategy has still not been discovered by us, and this is a huge and continuing failure of our deep state.
  2. In the initial forays, they gained territory in the Depsung Plains, Hot Springs, Galwan Valley, and Pangong Lake. We never had troops permanently stationed in the buffer zones in these areas, as these were never contested, so the Chinese just walked in. They could have perhaps, come even deeper into Indian territory in the initial days, but that inevitably would have caused alarm and triggered urgent, hot and determined military counter measures from us. That was never their objective, as they certainly did not want to fight or have bloodshed. They just wanted to create uncertainty in our minds about the true objective of the Chinese move.
  3. So the objective of creating deep distrust, and also gain some territory in the bargain, was achieved. Creating distrust and uncertainty was very important, as we would now have to station troops all along the entire Indo-China border , on top of all significant heights, to ward off any Chinese misadventure anywhere along the border, any time in the future. In other words we would have numerous Siachens in our hands. The enormity of this cost on our exchequer can be appreciated by multiplying the cost of Siachen multiple times.
  4. This massive, and now apparently permanent, additional defense expenditure, along with expenditure to tackle the Corona Virus, and the generally slowing Indian economy, would ensure that India was put back economically by at least a decade, if not permanently. Therefore we would not politically or economically be strong enough to take advantage of a declining China. We would just have no money left for progress or anything else.
Therefore the Chinese have already, by and large, been able to achieve their objective without bloodshed, except for the unplanned skirmish in Galwan.

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THE CURRENT SITUATION IS INTOLERABLE, AND HAS TO BE REVERSED

FIRSTLY, WE NEED TO REALIZE THAT WE HAVE BEEN STRATEGICALLY ATTACKED, AND ARE IN A FIGHT FOR OUR LIVES ALSO.

Has our government understood this? maybe, by now it should have dawned on all of us. In such a situation, we have to gather all our strengths, both internal and external, to fight off this crisis and perhaps, even emerge stronger with a more just and equitable society.

INTERNAL ACTION

Internally, WE HAVE TO COME TOGETHER. ALL DIVISIVE POLITICS FOR ELECTORAL GAINS HAS TO STOP. Bihar and Bengal is not as important as India. India is in danger, not the BJP alone. This cannot be overemphasized.

Not many leaders are given the opportunity to transform into a Statesman. PM Modi has this opportunity.

Today we need a Krishna not so much an Arjun. PM Modi has the electoral mandate, the continued confidence of the people, and a massive crisis at hand, where the 56" can truly come in handy. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and If Modi can't pull this off, when all the stars are aligned in his favour, we are doomed. But I have every confidence that he will.

It has been clear for decades, what needs to be done to strengthen ourselves internally. All we lacked is the political will. The politicians do not want their power for arbitrariness curtailed. PM Modi already has enormous political capital to carry out all the reforms that needs to be done. But if more is required, the leadership has to take the people into confidence, even to the extent of educating them of this existential dilemma. With the people solidly behind him, the leadership will have the additional political capital to initiate deep reforms cutting through vested interests.

The reforms immediately required, in the order of priority, as per my opinion, are-
  1. Police reforms. The Supreme Court has already devised a plan, which needs to be implemented to ensure fair treatment for all citizens. This is so important that it must be included in the basic structure of our constitution, so that subsequent governments cannot dilute, or alter the provisions. All politicians agree that these reforms are essential for the country, but do not want to give up the power for arbitrariness, when they are in power.
  2. Judicial infrastructure and reforms to speed up delivery of justice, that will enforce contracts and also negate the urge of citizens taking justice into their own hands. The decades people have to wait for justice is unacceptable.
  3. Land reforms. There have been so many innovative solutions, including land pooling. Let all these ideas flourish, which will satisfy the interests of all the stake holders. Also do away with political rent-seeking avenues like changing land use.
  4. Banking reforms. There is no need to hold on to banks, just for political expeditiousness masquerading as social causes . Set them free and make them accountable. Social causes can still be financed by the budget, as is the norm in every well governed country.
  5. Labour reforms. Notwithstanding the labour codification, no government has actually tried to reach out to the masses, and explain the benefits. The insecurity of "hire and fire" is a fallacy. How often do we change our domestic helps, even though they have absolutely no job security? Of course it has also to be explained that labour indiscipline will have consequences. No government has tried to explain that business people are job generators, and not labour exploiters. The government has to do away with povertarianism, and like Deng Xiaoping motivate the people to do better in life, and that getting rich is "glorious".
  6. Financial reforms and the development of a mature bond market for providing long term credit. This will get rid of the credit period mismatch plaguing the finance companies. Also, enact laws that do not oblige entrepreneurs to migrate their Head Offices to Singapore or the UAE to do business in India.
  7. Get talented people. Nehru had strong and talented people in his cabinet, which gave a superb constitution, universal suffrage, and helped grow the roots of democracy in our society. The current cabinet, while very hardworking and sincere, can certainly do with some genuine talent.
These are, by no means, the complete list, but a significant start on these lines will go a long way to repair our economy, and prepare us for the prolonged fight.

EXTERNAL ACTION

This fight has to be taken to the Chinese backyard.


I think that it was Dr. Jaishankar, who said, that for decades, the US has been fighting without winning, while the Chinese has been winning without fighting. The Chinese standard policy is to display strength through media, showing immaculate military march-pasts and live fire exercises, which give the impression that they have the manpower and hardware to be invincible. Their media then carries out a shrill campaign against the targeted country, threatening doomsday. Most of the time the intended target is intimidated into submission, thus perpetuating the myth of Chinese invincibility.

However, whenever they face serious resistance, they start backing out. One of the classic examples was the Doklam standoff in 2017. It would seem that, the Chinese hierarchy does not have too much confidence in their human resources. I also feel that the Chinese military, comprising of a generation of conscripted little emperors, are too soft to stomach a fight. This may be the reason why China has deftly avoided a fire fight for decades.

This is their Achilles'' heel, and needs to be exploited.

To confront and defeat, yes, defeat China, the role of the US is essential, but politically the US alone is not enough. The EU as a whole, is too fragmented and weak, and none of the ASEAN countries have the wherewithal or the courage to stand up to China. They may join with their infrastructure and political support once they observe a strong coalition being formed to take on this challenge. So it then falls on the Quad to take up the cudgels, as it is the Quad countries that are the most militarily and politically affected.

To develop an effective strategy to tackle any situation, it must contain three clearly thought through parts, the concept, the funding plan, and the implementation strategies. Finally, concluding with what is the expected outcome of this strategy

THE CONCEPT AND FUNDING


Let's face it, the Quad without India, is not viable, therefore India has to take an active part to form this grouping. Furthermore, the Quad without an enforcement capability, is a talking shop, and will be of no use to anyone. So a resolution of this problem, would probably be on the following lines-

  1. The core Quad group, comprising of Australia, Japan, India and US must form a Quad force (QF), with the member countries contributing military assets on a wet lease basis, renewable each year, to this formation. Any democratic country with a likeminded outlook, can become a member of this grouping and contribute assets on similar terms.
  2. Initially, about 2 carrier groups comprising of about 50 ships may be needed, including submarines and support vessels and boats capable of effectively ramming other bigger ships to disable them. This could be the base formation of the force, and in case of need, additional assets could be leased for a short while.
  3. A Carrier group is normally commanded by a rear Admiral, and 2 Carrier groups would have a Vice Admiral overall in charge. Therefore, if the Carriers, along with some other ships are contributed by the US, and the rest of the support ships by the other Quad members, then the leadership of this force would have to be with the US. Further they also have the maximum experience in international military power projection, and so they should be the most qualified to lead.
  4. A clear and unambiguous charter would be drafted, which would make it clear to all the countries, the objectives of this force, so that this does not threaten the internal affairs of any other country. The UN Security council would be informed of this charter, to give it a veneer of legitimacy. Basically it would have 2 clear objectives-
    1. To act as a policeman to ensure United Nations Convention on the law of the sea (UNCLOS) is upheld in the Indo-Pacific.
    2. To have a "All for One and One for All" policy, where an attack on one country would be deemed as a attack on all the members, and adequate counter measures including military, would be jointly taken against the offending country. These countermeasures could also include deploying leased land based forces.
  5. 25% of all global trade passes through the Malacca Straits. In 2018, the total global trade was about USD 20 Trillion, which means USD 5 trillion passed through these straits. The Suez and the Panama canals levy a service charge for the use of those passages. Similarly, as the QF would provide a service by being the net security provider for this region, that ensures compliance of international laws in the Indo Pacific, it could charge, say, 1% of the value of all goods traffic that passes through it. That would mean USD 50 Billion annually, which should be sufficient for looking after all military expenditure, including lease payments to the asset contributing countries, including the insurance cost for the assets, in the event of any asset being lost. In this way no one country will be burdened with the cost of operations. The QF will not own any asset, including buildings, offices, facilities etc., so that when the objective is achieved, it can be disbanded within a short time.
  6. The shipping companies would be responsible to pay this levy. It is expected that some countries, particularly China and their allies will object, but any shipping company that refuses to pay, will have their ship impounded and the cargo auctioned. The bill of lading and the cargo invoice would be the basis of the charge, and this charge must be paid before the start of the journey, so that the ship may be allowed to pass with only a short audit inspection in the high seas. The rest would be directed to a leased port where the cargo would be examined and payment obtained. A docking charge and fine for nonpayment will be additionally levied on the owners of the impounded ship.
  7. Counter measures would have to be taken to avoid sabotage. A ship laden with explosives could be impounded because of no advance payment, which could then be detonated anytime, causing damage to the leased port and QF staff.
  8. This QF would report to the grouping of the Quad country heads, headed by an elected chairman, and would be headquartered, at any convenient location/country, with the premises taken on long lease by the force. The leaser would also need to provide all administrative infrastructure for the QF to operate.
  9. All Quad strategy, including political, military and economic would be formalized by the 4 original Quad members, and all countries that join later would be in an advisory capacity. All decisions, would be on majority basis and need not be taken unanimously. This will ensure a quick and cogent policy without too much diversity of opinion, which could paralyze action.
  10. The current artificially created islands in the South China Sea, after liberation and demilitarization would revert to the country within whose territorial waters it falls, and for those falling in the high seas, if any, could be turned into tourist destinations and leased out by the Quad to private developers for commercial exploitation.
  11. . At the end of the year an audited balance sheet would be published for all to see. The beauty of this strategy is that the Chinese would be forced to pay for their own demise, as 50% of the shipping passing through the Straits are for, or from China
  12. There could be legal issues that crop up during the QF's operations, a special Quad court comprising of the Chief Justices of the member countries, could be the adjudicator.
IMPLEMENTATION

Right from the start, while forming the Quad, the objectives must be loudly proclaimed, so the Chinese would be under no illusion about who the target is. There will be desperate efforts by the Chinese to sow dissension, so that the quad is not a cohesive force. And also threats and bribes. From our side, we have to generate much sound and fury, by having TV debates, newspaper editorials, and social media conversations, directed at how the Chinese would be tamed by these actions. This would be the first time that the Chinese would have to face the same intimidating environment that confronts their own targets.

It is important to keep in mind that the QF will not fire at the assets of any other country, unless fired upon. This way the hostilities would be restricted to jostling in the sea, much like what happens between Indian and Chinese forces, and would include attempts to ram and disable Chinese ships. It must be clear that QF's purpose is not to encourage a hot war, while not shying away from it, but to establish the rule of law. So the strategy could be-

  1. As the talk of formation of a QF is going on within the Quad, the Chinese could realize that the game is up, and ask for an accommodation. In which case modalities can be worked out with minimum loss of face. Whether this is, in the long term interest of the Quad, is another matter.
    1. Alternatively, the Chinese reaction can only be political, as they would be foolish to throw their naval assets at the QF at this early stage. Even then, if they station some of their ships at either end of the Straits, to try to physically disrupt the QF operations by running interference, then these ships have to be captured or rammed and made dysfunctional. This has been the standard Chinese method of capturing most of the South China sea. Remember bullets will not be fired, to avoid escalation.
    2. For the Chinese this would be like the Opium wars of the 1800s, and repeat of the Catch 22 situation. There is no way to win, and there is no way to walk away. So for the time being, there may be no reaction, barring a lot of shrill Chinese media coverage.
  2. Capture, or ram the boats of the Chinese maritime militia, masquerading as fishing vessels, when they stray into the territorial waters of a littoral country.
  3. Ram Chinese coast guard vessels that come to the rescue. Even capture these ships if they stray into the littoral waters of other countries. Their navy would, most probably, hug their own coast and not risk confrontation in the high seas.
  4. It is likely that the Chinese would attempt to form their own group, probably comprising of Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and maybe Russia. My own thinking is, that this will not amount to much, and China would be alone because-
    1. As the Malacca Straits issue is outsourced to the QF, the Indian navy will have more time and assets at hand. Pakistan navy, at least their surface assets, would be easily bottled up in Karachi, secretly much to the relief of Pakistan itself. Their submarines can be hunted down, if they prove troublesome.
    2. Iran has neither the naval assets, nor the money to take on this task. Also they will not want to burn all their bridges with the West. So they would sit this out.
    3. North Korea is an unknown quantity in this equation. Also at present, there may be internal leadership issues that they may be facing. Their only contribution is with their nuclear assets, but that stage will nowhere be reached. The QF ramming a few Chinese ships cannot be the criteria for threats of a nuclear exchange. Therefore, at China's prodding, they may make threatening noises, but are unlikely to get actively involved.
    4. Turkey knows that if it joins the fight, then it would be the end of their great power dreams, at least for a decade. Their supply lines can be easy to disrupted. Finally what do they gain by taking on the world in the Indo-Pacific? At best they are a sub regional middle eastern power at present.
    5. Finally Russia will, in my opinion, stay neutral, because they do not trust the Chinese, and never have, and also because they know, that in the end, China would be de-fanged, which is much in the interest of Russia.
  5. Once the levy collection system has been firmly established, beach assault boats to be launched for landing troops and armored personal carriers, on the artificial islands to liberate these. These troops would be leased by the country whose maritime boundary was breached in the first place, so that they have skin in the game. If they are fired upon, then all Chinese pretenses of winning without fighting would be nullified, and they would end up facing the QF and all it's might, in a hot local skirmish. The chances of it escalating into an all out war would still be limited.
  6. Once, even if one island is liberated, the entire Chinese strategy of capturing the South and East China seas would lie in tatters along with their credibility, and the rest of the islands can be taken easily.
  7. By this time the entire ASEAN, barring a couple of countries, would enthusiastically join the QF. The political clout of this entire grouping, including the rest of the western countries, would be overwhelming.
  8. The Chinese could unleash a cyber war by disrupting the Quad country's electrical grid, telecommunications, banking, and other such digital services. But such an action would be bereft of deniability, and would invite counter measures that could also be equally devastating for China. So it is unlikely that this will happen.
  9. China could think in terms of initiating a space war. But they are still way behind US in this sphere, and they know it. The last thing they would want is to lose all their satellites. So this is unlikely to happen.
  10. What about China's strategic forces? These could be armed, either with conventional or nuclear warheads.
    1. Conventional warheads could be used as carrier killers, and we have to develop effective counter measures. In any case, a missile launch would initiate a hot war, that would cause the destruction of the entire naval might of China, and maybe large parts of the army and air force also. So this is unlikely to happen.
    2. As far as the Nuclear option is concerned, who do they threaten to bomb, knowing that China would be converted into a wasteland for half a century, from any such misadventure? In any case, nuclear weapons are not used because some ships have been rammed. Their nuclear bluff has to be called to avoid decision making paralysis. For decades we were afraid of the Pakistani bomb, and they could literally get away with murder. Once their bluff was called, we came to know that there was nothing to fear, as no general wants his own oblivion.
CONCLUSION

Without such a decisive action, we Indians would gradually be pauperized, spending far too much money on defense and become a de-facto third rate country like Pakistan, and in the end, be forced to acknowledge China's supremacy in Asia, which we were trying to avoid in the first place.


This force would be instrumental in forcing China to give up all salami sliced territory, and nullify all Chinese aggression everywhere. The pressure on our borders would also disappear, for at least a decade. It should also result in the return of all conquered/salami sliced territory, including Akshai Chin, and the Shaksgam valley. The formal recognition of the McMahon line, would settle the India China border issue once and for all.

We could also possibly annex the dagger area between Sikkim and Bhutan, resolving the chicken neck issue to some extent. The pressure on our finances would immediately disappear, and our economy can then even gallop, if the suggested reforms were carried out. In the end we would have certainly dodged a bullet, while at the same time significantly increasing our political weight in world affairs.

MODI MEANWHILE, WOULD THEN HAVE MADE A DECISIVE MARK ON WORLD HISTORY AND GAINED THE GENUINE ADMIRATION OF THE PEOPLE OF THE INDO-PACIFIC AND THE WORLD.

The political outcome of the formation and the subsequent activities of this force, could have cataclysmic outcomes.

  1. The United Nations Security council would lose its main reason for being, as an alternate formation took care of situations which the UNSC should have taken care off. It could also be the beginning of the end of UN as we know it.
  2. For Pakistan, with a China in no position to help, a triumphant India, and no friends in the world, it could be in no position to hold on to Gilgit-Baltistan, and POK. There could also be a compelling logic to reconcile with India, otherwise there could be a strong possibility of Pakistan further fragmenting. This could also mark the beginning of the end of Terrorism, perhaps worldwide, and put Pakistan in the path of revival, both economically and as a society. This will also open up the Central Asian Countries and Afghanistan for direct trade with India through Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  3. For China, a huge loss of face for the Chinese Communist Party, which could, at the very least, unseat Xi Jinping, and even trigger the collapse of the CCP. It could even initiate the balkanization of China, on similar lines as the Soviet Union.
If that happens, hopefully what emerges from this, would be an open and democratic China, which would be a great asset for the world, and we should welcome it.
 

Shankar Deb

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I would like to add another point under "Implementation".

Point 1a

One of the ways of sowing dissension in the Quad is to single out one country and settle all issues with it. For example If China agreed to settle all boundary disputes and accept the McMahon line, would we still keep participating in the Quad? How do we deal with such an eventuality?

It must be clear that the Quad is a strategic formation, and not a tactical one for short term gains. The QF will have it's own colors and command, and will be independent of any of the participating countries individually. The Quad control group will define the objectives and then free the QF to carry these out, monitoring progress from time to time.

If any member were to resign, then it would have to give a 3 months notice before the expiry of the lease period, so that a successor country may be appointed. It would, of course, be very foolish of any country to resign, as this formation has the potential to seriously challenge the UNSC.
 

Srinivas_K

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Chinese got a back eye and the tremors of Ladhak brought an earth quake in Beijing.

They got kickes from USA, EU after Ladhak incidents.

People see china as a giant rising, the reality is Chinese are being boycotted all around the world, floods and food shortage, their businesses are shutting down, Real estate bubble is going to burst and economic depression is coming soon.

Secondly chinese tasted the reality after Ladhak, the cracks in CCP are wide open as their party meeting is missing important party people except Xi, their military proved to the the world that they are more propaganda oriented and are weak.
 

no smoking

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Chinese got a back eye and the tremors of Ladhak brought an earth quake in Beijing.

They got kickes from USA, EU after Ladhak incidents.

People see china as a giant rising, the reality is Chinese are being boycotted all around the world, floods and food shortage, their businesses are shutting down, Real estate bubble is going to burst and economic depression is coming soon.

Are you sure?
1601946831486.png




Secondly chinese tasted the reality after Ladhak, the cracks in CCP are wide open as their party meeting is missing important party people except Xi, their military proved to the the world that they are more propaganda oriented and are weak.
Yes, India need Japan, Australia and US to deal with this propaganda oriented military machine. Are you laughing at your own country?
 

Srinivas_K

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Are you sure?
View attachment 61662





Yes, India need Japan, Australia and US to deal with this propaganda oriented military machine. Are you laughing at your own country?
Does it even infer That I am seeking help form other countries to confront Chinese salami slicing ?

Chinese export stats are more to do with assuring that China is still worlds factory and attract investments. Chinese infiltrated WB and other organisations to get favourable reports.
 

Shankar Deb

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Chinese got a back eye and the tremors of Ladhak brought an earth quake in Beijing.

They got kickes from USA, EU after Ladhak incidents.

People see china as a giant rising, the reality is Chinese are being boycotted all around the world, floods and food shortage, their businesses are shutting down, Real estate bubble is going to burst and economic depression is coming soon.

Secondly chinese tasted the reality after Ladhak, the cracks in CCP are wide open as their party meeting is missing important party people except Xi, their military proved to the the world that they are more propaganda oriented and are weak.
All that you said are correct, but this does not discount the fact that we are now spending enormous sums of money to try to keep our borders intact. This military and economic pressure on our borders has to be relieved, and I see no incentive for the Chinese to do so. Even if we reach an accommodation with the Chinese and de-escalate, this can only be temporary, and in any case can we ever go back to the way things were before March 2020? There is an enormous trust deficit and we would have to man the border like we do in Siachin.

You might recall that Pakistan launched a surprise attack on the Akhnoor sector called Operation Grand Slam in 1965. To relieve the pressure, India crossed the international border and proceeded towards Lahore. This took the Pakistanis by surprise, and they had to divert forces from Akhnoor to Lahore, as Punjab was far more important to them.

Unless we threaten the Chinese closer to home I see no way to resolve this dispute with them on a permanent basis.

Even today, it is frustrating to see that we are just pussyfooting around this issue. Hands on initiative has to be taken to operationalise the Quad and raise an overwhelming force, and this can be done only by us, as we have always been the reluctant bride in this formation.

Let us not depend on bursting real estate and other bubbles or the disintegration of the CCP. These have been anticipated for the past 10 years, and the bubble is still there. And so is the CCP.

Lastly I am reminded of what Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

That time is now when the entire world is united against China.
 

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