The three theories that explain China’s border aggression with India.

You an also listen to this post below.

Has the below question crossed your mind too?

Of course, it is not just India that China has been messing up with. The list is long and growing – the Philippines, Australia, Europe, the US, and Canada.

The puzzle is why China is choosing aggression over magnanimity, or even over mere inaction. After all, China’s current leaders probably view America as a declining power that will soon organically vacate the hegemonic position that China seeks to occupy. If so, just as Deng Xiaoping, the father of China’s reforms 40 years ago, advised geopolitical patience until China became stronger, a Dengian strategy today would be to wait for the US to become weaker.

Arvind Subramanian, Business Standard 21 Jul 2020

Theory 1 – This shall unite the Chinese citizens.

One of the first few persons who I found had a theory to explain this behaviour by China, was Sonam Wangchuk.

Sonam theorizes that China is probably doing what it is doing to project the country in some kind of a big global fight with rest of the world. This perception of a common enemy (many common enemies rather) will unite all the Chinese and keep their support for CCP intact.

Why does CCP need to unite the Chinese? Are they not united already?

Sonam claims that there is a growing unrest within the Chinese populace. That may eventually lead to civil protests bigger than what China has seen in its recent history (unless of course CCP succeeds in its strategy). In the later part of his video, Sonam gets into the ‘what do we do about’ mode, which I’d like to avoid addressing.

By the way an astrologer (who did his B.Tech from IIT Madras long time ago) proclaims that China will soon get split into smaller countries (like what happened to USSR). Don’t ask me why I watch such astrology videos – let’s just call me super curious. 🙂 This same astrologer also predicts that Modi will come back to power for a third term, but will leave midway and take sanyas!

Coming back to China, one day I randomly stumbled upon a Youtuber (Winston aka serpentza) who’d published a video titled “Why I left China for Good”.

The above embedded video should play from 06:45 – where he basically says that from his personal experience of having lived in China (he is originally from South Africa), CCP does not let any criticism of the government come out in public. That to him was a very stifling environment to live in – so he decided to move out.

Most of you would instinctively agree with this claim. Me too. Of course one may say that the way a person from SA (or US, UK, even India) sees this situation – stifling – may be very different from how it is probably viewed by an average Chinese citizen. The Chinese citizens are – may be – used to such behavior from Govt. and don’t mind it as much.

Of course this view is debatable. In any case, it is something I will skip getting into, for now. All that even the internet offers on this, are just anecdotes – some Chinese tell you they don’t like their Govt., others say they are okay with it. How does one even find out what the “average” Chinese opinion is?

On a side-note, what definitely felt weird to me while watching the above video was this realization – that the very words this Youtuber chose to express his feelings for CCP, can as well be used to describe the present Indian Govt! Again, some of you may not agree with me, but let’s discuss that some other time!

Theory 2 – Message to India.

Shekhar Gupta (the below video should play from 09:41) talks about China’s need to give India a ‘message’ that it is the big boss (they apparently got triggered by major infra development by India along the border).

It sure is a theory, but a little too simple, isn’t it? A better, more plausible theory comes from Arvind Subramanian, who I quoted earlier.

Theory 3 – The time to rule the world has come.

Arvind sums it up nicely:

Perhaps China’s leaders once again see the world through a victim’s lens. As they perceive it, the powerful West had kept a weak China in check since the early 1800s. Now that the roles are reversed, the regime believes it is time to correct historical injustices. With Xi’s aggressive insecurity having replaced Deng’s calm confidence, China now places a premium on settling its borders and returning to the glory days of the Middle Kingdom.

Arvind Subramanian, Business Standard 21 Jul 2020

So yeah, these are the three theories that I have come to find so far. Do you have any other theory? Have you heard of anything else that explains why China is doing what it is doing with India? Do let me know.

If you want a quick refresher on the Indo-China border conflict, I created a 10-slider illustration some time back (mostly relying on a NY times summary article).

I had made the above deck when the Galwan valley thing had just started. As of now (24 Jul 2020), what we know is that in spite of all the talks about de-escalation and disengagement, things haven’t really cooled down.

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Anyway, other than getting inspired to draw informative illustrations and satirical cartoons, I also had the urge to read up more about China. So I got hold of few books.

I am reading the first one – by Job Fenby – on Kindle and listening to the second one on Audible (When China Rules the World by Martin Jacques). Both are insightful.

I’ll see if I ever get to the third book – ‘Has China Won’ – that I came to know about when I randomly stumbled upon the below video (where the author is interviewed). This is the second time I used the phrase “randomly stumbled upon”, didn’t I? But is anything ‘random’ on Youtube anymore? 🙂

This is not a contest between a democracy & a communist party system. It’s a contest between a plutocracy (US) and a meritocracy (CCP).

Kishore Mahbubani (in the video above)

Are you reading anything on China too? Do let me know. That will be all for this post.

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